In what world does an automated IVR chatbot that hangs up on callers after several minutes of interaction sound like a good idea? Anyone? Well, that’s what happened to me. Follow along to learn about IVR Chatbot Worst Practices.
It’s the end of the day, we gather our pups and relax on the sofa for a bit of entertainment before turning in. We were looking forward to finishing season one of “Slings And Arrows” on Acorn.tv (great show), and the dreaded “you’re not online” graces the screen. Okay, I proclaim, I’m an Internet professional, I’ve got this! It’s Friday night; the cable network is likely experiencing heavy demand from streamers, I probably need to reboot the cable modem, I think to myself.
So I reboot the cable modem as any self-proclaimed and self-respecting “Internet professional” would do, then defiantly stare at it. And stare. Keep staring. Nothing; the “online” light stays off. Someone who is a self-professed “Internet professional” did much more at this point, but you want to know about IVR Chatbot Worst Practices, so let’s get to it.
CX Failure 1: Playing Hard To Get
Do you keep the customer service number for your cable company handy? I didn’t think so. The mobile website for this large top-tier provider was adept at hiding their phone number. I mean seriously, what’s the number one reason someone goes to a cable provider website on their smartphone?
CX Failure 2: Company-Centric IVR
Okay, I found the number and call in. I know exactly what my problem is, so this should be easy, right? Wrong. Their automated IVR knew my account from my caller ID, okay, they got that part right. But then, it guided me through several possible things I could say. So I said, “No Internet.” It dumped me into a lengthy cable modem troubleshooting process, virtually everything I had already done on my own. During the process, I tried to interrupt it several times with, “Representative,” “Technical Support,” and similar statements, to no avail. Some ten minutes later, including the chatbot making me wait while the modem rebooted, it finished.
This process is what’s called a company-centric IVR. An automated call flow to benefit the company, not the customer. Since I self-installed our Internet service, it would have been easy to flag my account as a higher-knowledge customer. With that information, the IVR could have asked me if I rebooted the cabled modem first, then send me to an agent or different call flow after I said yes.
Epic CX Failure 3: “Good-Bye”
The next step after I confirmed that my cable modem restarted? I was treated to, “If your problems persist, please feel free to call us back.” And then I was disconnected!
Are you kidding me? Not even asking if rebooting the cable modem fixed the problem?
Epic CX Failure 4: Not Remembering Me
Well, I had to call back. I was greeted with the same message, asking me why I was calling. After the long and pointless company-centric IVR that asked me to call back if I didn’t have a resolution, their system didn’t remember that I called with a problem 20 minutes ago.
CX Failure 5: No Obvious Path To Expert Help
This time, after my initial experience, knowing that no clever utterance would expedite me through to a support person, I remained silent. Three minutes of the chatbot uttering, “I didn’t get a response; please say…” I finally reached the end of its patience and heard, “We’re connecting you to customer service.” YAY!
Epic CX Failure 6: Still Not Remembering Me
Twenty-three minutes after finding their number on a website, I’m finally speaking with someone who will understand my issue. But first, I asked if they had a record of my previous experience with their customer-centric IVR. No. Their system does not flag accounts that go through that process.
Within 20 seconds, I was able to communicate my issue and have them confirm that they couldn’t connect to our cable modem — time to schedule a visit from a technician.
Frustration On So Many Levels
As someone who can troubleshoot my technology, it was frustrating to be sent down a path of highest-friction. The cable provider’s process is a textbook example of an IVR designed to benefit the company, not service the customer.
This episode becomes even more frustrating for someone who works in CX. I know how easy it is for the entire process to be better.
Obviously, a lot of money was invested in their company-centric call flow. And I’m sure their vendor provides colorized analytics and synthetic data that shows how well it’s working to deflect callers away from getting a resolution. But the best automation offers a path to expert humans and remembers your customers. All they needed to do was flag me as knowledgeable because of the self-installation, then send me down a different call flow. Then I’d be writing about how one cable company is using stunning IVR best practices.
What Would You Call This?
What is that even called when an IVR hangs up on a customer before there is any resolution? First call discontentment? Resolution deflection? Let me know what you’d call it on my LinkedIn.