We’ve all encountered an awkward or downright dreadful Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) from time to time. Nothing can be more off-putting than trying to navigate through a virtual labyrinth of voice prompts and complicated menus. A poorly conceived IVR is often the number-one customer service complaint (Harvard Business Review), causing a severe impact on brand satisfaction.
Due to their response to COVID-19, more and more contact centers and customer service operations are coming to terms with fewer agents on premise, with many working remotely. As a result, they’re often re-examining their IVR and looking to add more automation. So we thought it made sense to have a review of the top IVR complaints. Hopefully, it will help.
Top Eight IVR Complaints
Recently, Wakefield Research looked into the top complaints callers have about IVR systems. Here are the eight significant gripes, combined with a ninth of my own.
The reason I’m calling is not in the first menu options.
Depending on the complexity of your customer service needs, it can often be challenging to cover all possibilities in the initial welcome message. It’s essential to monitor your IVR usage analytics and look for patterns that indicate callers are becoming lost. Is a particular group of callers cycling back to the main menu or opting for a live agent?
Of course, it’s essential to prevent this complaint before it happens. When you map your customer journeys, you’ll visualize the probabilities of what the customer might need on their first call. From there, you’ll have the understanding you need to design an optimal welcome menu.
I am often overwhelmed by too many menu options.
This complaint is often related to the first one. An incomplete welcome menu, followed by numerous options in secondary menus, is the result of a lack of focus on caller needs. Knowing your customers’ journeys and mapping those to your IVR is a vital step before designing your IVR flow. This understanding will help you recognize caller paths and create logical silos that efficiently get groups of callers to a resolution.
The menu options are too wordy and complicated.
“Please listen to this entire menu of options, as the list may have changed since the last time you called.” How many times have you heard that? How many times do you keep hearing it? Anticipate that your callers want to get to a quick resolution. Make each voice prompt concise, to the point, and efficient.
The system is designed to help the company, not me.
This issue is related to the first three complaints, and sometimes the last one of mine below. All too often, an IVR is treated as a directory, not a service solution. Think of your callers first. Design your prompts menu system as if you were using it. Think of the scenarios where you’ll need help. How can the IVR automat that help?
I have to repeat myself after being transferred.
This problem is relatively common; the IVR system and customer data lack a proper and persistent connection. Design your system in a way that allows customer data to pass from one point to another. CTI, or computer telephony integration, is a blanket term that covers several ways to accomplish information persistence. Caller ID (CID), Dynamic Number Identification Service (DNIS), or Automatic Number Identification (ANI) are all paths to knowing your caller. Combined with account identifiers, it’s easy to give agents screen-pops with caller information.
I can’t “zero-out” to a live agent when I want to.
There’s a simple fix to this common issue; make sure that pressing “0” on the keypad redirects callers to an agent.
It takes too long to get a resolution.
Today’s callers expect rapid service. We covered much of this in our blog post, “Customer Expectations For Consumer Finance Companies in 2020.” Designing a voice automation system, that is customer-first, doesn’t just help your customers, it helps your bottom line. Deflecting self-service tasks away from agents helps them spend more time on meaningful customer issues. That means reducing your reliance on agents, which also reduces agent turnover.
The system doesn’t have the information to solve my problem.
Related to the complaint above, today’s callers expect to solve their problems without speaking to a live agent. A self-serve IVR system connected to customer and business data can often provide a first-call resolution without needing an agent. For additional reading on this, check out our numerous articles below:
IVR Best Practices For 2023
How To Improve First Contact Resolution In a Contact Center
What Customers Expect From Self-Service
Don’t Let Technology Drive Your CX Strategy
Customer Story: How We Solved Long Hold Times
Customer Service Automation: The Little Things Matter
How Interactive Voice Response Helps Improve Customer Experience
In short, IVR complaints are directly related to the system’s design. A design conceived and deployed by the IT department. Now, we love our IT people; they’re typically the unsung heroes of many organizations. However, they’re tuned for programmatic solutions to a company’s problems, not customer or caller needs. Make sure customer service is involved in the development, testing, and deployment of your IVR system.
The IVR hung up on me.
So I saved the best for last. That’s right, the IVR hung up on me. I called our cable provider because our Internet was out. When selecting the, “I have no Internet” option in the IVR, I was walked through an automated process of checking connections and finally unplugging the cable modem, which I already tried. Then it said, “Press one when you’ve plugged your cable modem in.” Like a fool, I pressed one. The response, “Thank you, please call back if you continue to experience problems. You can read more about the adventure here.
We Hope This Helps You Plan Your IVR.
I hope these little tidbits helped your efforts, and you avoided these pitfalls. If you need more help or want to learn more about expert IVR systems design, contact us.