IS IVR really a hated technology? Not always. These social media users all had IVR experiences that left them deliriously happy. 

We often go on about how IVR is the world’s most hated technology (and how we’ve made it our mission to change that).

But it’s not true that IVR is universally hated. We regularly browse Twitter to see what people are saying about automated phone service, and while a typical tweet usually goes like this…

…every so often, you come across one that goes a bit like this:

Could IVR actually have some redeeming features?

Combing through Twitter, there’s every evidence that people actually do appreciate IVR - as long as it meets their needs.

So is there anything you can learn from their appreciative tweets, and apply those lessons back into your own IVR? Here are three pointers they can give you:

1. Know what your callers need, and give it to them.

This may seem an obvious statement. What’s the point of having an IVR if it’s not going to give callers the help they need? But time and again, we see IVRs that are designed with the business’s priorities in mind, rather than what callers need.

We’ve written before about containment strategies, like the deliberate decision not to offer callers the option to “zero out” and talk to an agent if they’re not getting the help they need in the IVR.

We’ve shown examples of IVRs that simply cut callers off if they don’t have the right data to hand, for example, rather than applying intelligent error recovery to try to find another way to help them.

These are examples of IVRs designed to minimise costs, rather than deliver outstanding customer service. But “bad containment” strategies like these tend to backfire. They enrage callers, often driving them to try other ways to talk to a company representative, and/or to vent their frustration online.

The fallout may be even worse than that: a 2015 survey by global content management company SDL found that customers who have a bad service experience will spend 65% less with you in the following year.

Customers who have a bad service experience will spend 65% less with you in the following year.
- SDL, The Global CX Wakeup Call, 2015

But that’s not to say that all IVR containment is by default bad. When it’s done well, customers actively love it, as this tweet illustrates:

2. Help callers to help themselves

Sometimes, callers who think they have a complex problem can actually solve it quickly and efficiently themselves - as long as they have the right guidance.

We can make a guess at what’s happened here. The cable company has designed a self-service IVR that helps callers fix minor technical faults themselves. The IVR asks the caller some initial questions to diagnose the nature of the fault, then guides the caller through a set of actions they can take to try to fix it.

Rather than having to wait hours to talk to a support technician, the caller can (potentially) fix the problem right away - in this case, in time to watch the game.

At VoxGen, we’ve designed and implemented self-service technical support lines like this for several customers in the telecoms sector. Done well, they can be very rewarding experiences for customers, especially if their initial expectation is that they will have to wait for a support engineer.

The key to getting them right is in understanding the most common types of problem that customers report, identifying simple actions a customer can take to resolve them, and designing a clear and simple dialog - with a thoughtful approach to error recovery - that will take the caller through the procedure.

3. Make it quick and easy to complete basic tasks

When people complain about not being able to get through to an agent, it’s not (always) because they really want to talk to a fellow human being. It’s because there’s something important they need to do, and the IVR isn’t letting them do it.

If you can give them the help they need in the IVR, quickly and efficiently, callers have no issue with dealing with an automated service. In fact, for some routine tasks, they’d rather not talk to a person at all. Prescription renewals are a great example.

We worked with a major pharmacy chain in the U.S. to make it quicker and easier for callers to order a prescription refill in the IVR, and check on its readiness to pick up. The results were pretty eye-opening: engagement with the self-service process increased by 200%.

Considering that 70% of all calls to this pharmacy chain are repeat calls, mainly from people ordering or checking on prescription renewals, that’s a pretty big win for the business - but also a major service improvement for customers.

The evidence is everywhere that if you can make an IVR self-service process quick, easy and in tune with the task the customer wants to complete, they won’t just thank you - they’ll also tell the world:



Three steps to an IVR customers love

So there you have it: callers are more likely to love your IVR if it knows what they need, helps them to help themselves, and makes it quick and easy for them to complete basic tasks. When it combines customer insight with empathy and user-centric design, IVR can deliver a genuinely helpful self-service experience for time-pressed callers.

Time to re-assess your own IVR?

Would you like your IVR to provide a great experience for your callers - while still delivering the efficiencies you need it to? Is so, VoxGen offers a free IVR healthcheck to analyze the service quality of your IVR, and provide some actionable recommendations for improving the experience. Book your free IVR healthcheck here.

Topics: IVR Design