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IVR Can be Better Than It is
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IVR Can be Better Than It is

November 21, 2014

  By Rory J. Thompson, Web Editor

Love it or hate it, Interactive Voice Response, or IVR, is here to stay. It’s cheaper for call centers than having customers speak with a live rep, and it allows for more calls to be answered in a shorter period of time, again adding to the bottom line.

But let’s face it: IVR has a bad rap. Many callers start say “Representative” as soon as their call is answered, if only to avoid a never-ending menu of choices. Yet there is a way to get users comfortable with IVR, and make it their destination of choice.

In a recent blog post, VoxGen, a company that creates highly engaging and natural customer interactions, offered up some ideas on delivering better automated customer experiences.

First up, VoxGen lists the benefits of IVR. “Simply put, it lowers overhead by reducing the number of customer service reps a business once needed. Think about it: how much money can a company save by only having to employ 40 associates in a call center, versus dozens and dozens?” VoxGen asks. “To put this in greater perspective, an IVR call tends to range in cost from five to 25 cents, whereas a human-to-human call can be 100 times that cost. It may sound cold. But business is business.”

Then they looked at why customers dislike IVR so much.

“The first problem is the fact that some systems are horribly programmed,” VoxGen says. “For instance, let's say you give the customer nine options from which to choose. They have to select an option, no matter how appropriate. Or, worse than that, your IVR solution can't understand your customers. They repeat themselves. They change their answers. They yell obscenities your system doesn't comprehend. The next thing you know, they've transversed the phone maze and only want to talk to a live agent.” Not the best scenario for a customer experience, is it? Still, it’s not all bad news.

According to Fair Isaacs Corporation, a recent study concluded that interactive voice calls generated significantly high levels of consumer satisfaction. This is attributed to their timely nature, along with their consistent and non-judgmental interactions. It turns out the consumers feel they control the interactions greater than in a dialog with a live agent. And, when properly implemented, IVR calls generated a lower number of complaints.

So IVR works, but only if properly implemented. Remember that when programming your system. Better yet, why not call in yourself once in a while to hear how it works? It’s better to uncover a problem that way, than to hear about it from an irate – and soon to be ex – customer.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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