I hate PIN numbers: let's get that out there right from the start. That said, not long ago I was working with a major UK telecom provider. They had a big problem with customers taking a long time to identify themselves when calling to self serve in the IVR. The difficulty was that the customers were supposed to remember a four-digit code in order to verify themselves after their CLI (phone number) was captured. Now it's only four digits right? AND the customers chose the four digits themselves: so why the huge number of drop-backs to the call centre?

Well, I always love a mystery. It gives me an excuse to wear my Columbo overcoat and play detective. So we did all the usual forensics: listening to calls, looking at data. Nothing jumped out as the culprit except possibly the unusually poor memory of the customers of this particular telco. I had one more trip planned to meet with some agents in a call centre and while I was there I happened to ask the call centre manager why he thought so many customers had such a hard time remembering their PIN. He looked sheepish and I knew I was on to something.

He'd been feeling guilty for some time he admitted. “I think” he said “I've been pushing the agents too hard”. You see the manager was compensated on AHT (Average Handle Time). So he insisted that the agents try to keep the calls as short as possible even while enrolling new customers. So when they got to the part of the script that said “Now please pick a four digit number to identify yourself when you call in future” they were not explaining that this was a vital PIN to remember because of course, that would take longer and their AHT would go up. Now as our manager and his call centre only dealt with enrolling new customers, he didn't feel (or particularly care about) the calls going to the other call centres when customers forgot the four digits they had chosen on enrollment. Oops! Another typical day in Siloland! Just another example of lack of communication and poor processes causing dysfunction and wastefulness not to mention an appalling and churn-worthy customer experience.


Topics: IVR Examples