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Does Your IVR Need a CX Overhaul? Here's One Way to Find Out

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Your IVR is a key customer touchpoint, but does it deliver the kind of service your customers need? There’s one quick way to find out: call it yourself.

When did you last call your own company’s customer service line?

If you’re not a customer of your own business, chances are you haven’t called it in a while. But if that’s the case, you’re lacking an up to date view of what your customers experience when they try to contact your business by phone.

That’s important, because your Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system is a key customer touchpoint. An annual survey published by Forrester in November revealed that 63% of US adults picked used IVR for customer service in 2015 – up from 48% the previous year.  

Many of those people call because they’ve failed to get the help they need via other channels, and turn to the phone in the hope of getting a speedy resolution.


“There is a lot of industry attention today for mobile applications and social customer service. But consumers still vote in favor of IVR, with 63% of US online adults reporting use in the past 12 months. While US online adults are using web self-service at high rates (81%), the staying power of IVR is clear.”

- Forrester, Vendor Landscape: Interactive Voice Response Solutions, November 2015


IVR should be a prime candidate for CX optimization

Those figures alone suggest that firms should pour as much customer experience (CX) optimization effort into their IVR as they do into their newer, digital channels. But that’s not what’s happening on the ground, as Forrester explains:


“Consumer satisfaction with IVR comes in at 51% of US online adults, well below web self-service and mobile applications, which both fall at 61%. Enterprises invest more in tuning the user experience for web and mobile self-service applications.”

- Forrester, Vendor Landscape: Interactive Voice Response Solutions, November 2015


With 63% of customers still using it in the hope – end expectation – of getting decent service, it makes sense to give the IVR the same kind of regular CX tune-up as the other channels. 

Applying “guerrilla CX” fixes for a radically improved IVR experience

The good news is that this may not be as expensive or as daunting as it might sound. There are plenty of ways to make tactical fixes to the IVR that pay huge dividends in terms of increased customer satisfaction and reduced customer effort.  

Forrester calls these kinds of tactical exercise “Guerrilla CX”, and it outlined many of them last year, in a report full of practical advice and examples.


“Guerrilla CX improves the quality of CX by getting the most out of limited resources, using available data, and emphasizing experimentation and pragmatism to create memorable moments that act as a catalyst for CX transformation.”

- Forrester, Guerrilla CX: Improving the Quality Of Your CX Despite Tight Budgets And Small Teams, June 2015

Seven guerrilla CX fixes for your IVR –  in one ebook

Taking inspiration from Forrester’s report, our latest ebook outlines 7 “Guerrilla Fixes” you can use to make your IVR a much more pleasant experience for your customers – and a much more efficient channel for your business.

We looked at the first of these Guerrilla CX exercises in a recent blog, and now it’s time to look at #2. This one’s all about putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, and experiencing the IVR in the same way they do. Here’s an excerpt from the ebook:

Fix #2: Call your IVR to find out what’s not working

Lots of IVRs are almost completely dysfunctional. They use different voices, have long and confusing menus, ask callers to repeat themselves endlessly, and keep people on hold for eons while bragging about how great the company is. Really bad ones regularly cut callers off mid-call with no warning.

The worst of it is, hardly anyone within the company knows this is going on. Most senior customer service people never call the IVR – and very few senior executives ever do. If they did, they might be appalled at the way the brand presents itself, and immediately allocate budget to fix it. That’s what this exercise is all about.

What does the exercise entail?

This is a very simple but effective exercise. It involves calling up the IVR with the aim of completing a set of specific tasks (pay a bill, request a refund, report a missing order…). The aim is to benchmark the reality against best practice in customer experience. For best results, all calls should be recorded.

We recommend having an executive conduct this exercise, or at least sit with an IVR analyst while they conduct it, to observe their experience first-hand.  For a score-sheet of 35 things to listen out for during the exercise, download our IVR Customer Experience Checklist.

What impact will it have?

Apart from suggesting some immediate tuning improvements, the results of this activity can be a real eye-opener for senior CX executives. Being confronted with the reality of a sub-par brand experience often results in immediate budget and resources being made available to fix it.

Those fixes can be transformative in terms of sales, cost efficiency, and customer happiness. Even small improvements to the self-service experience can significantly increase containment rates and reduce time spent in the IVR. And you may even find ways to turn the IVR into a revenue-generator, alerting customers to timely offers and discounts.


Get the full ebook

Look out for more posts in this series soon, or download the complete ebook: 7 Quick, Low-Cost Ways to Take Your IVR from Good to Great.