August 18, 2020
A major flaw of Interactive voice response (IVR) systems: Customers hate them.
An Interactive voice system (IVR) is a technology allowing incoming callers to navigate a telephony menu system before routing callers to speak to the respective human operator. They are intended as a self-help option for customers needing a quick solution. Although, since their first introduction in the 1980s, IVRs have evolved little to none to eradicate the endless negative perceptions surrounding them. Customers still view transactions conducted through IVR systems to be restrictive and excessively long. It’s therefore safe to say that customers have not strayed from their preference for human operators, while some might even go as far as to believe that IVRs are employed solely for the company’s benefit!
Why do customers hate IVR?
The reason is simple. Customers don’t enjoy getting put on hold for what seems like forever, neither do they enjoy being forced to navigate through a maze of robotic menu options. These experiences often leave customers feeling so frustrated that many are willing to go great lengths to entirely bypass them. They might repeatedly press zero without waiting for the options, or even turn to online cheat sheets in search of ways to directly connect to a human representative.
Let’s try to visualise the problem from a fresh perspective. Would ATMs be as accepted if they were set up like the IVR systems of today? Imagine a series of ATM machines at the entrance of a physical bank, where before being allowed to enter or interact with a bank teller, every single customer must first interact with a machine. Something that was once a means of enhancing customer service and simplifying transactions would now be perceived as a deterrence to personalised, expedited service that customers should be getting immediately.
The worldwide unpopularity of IVR
Vonage, a global business cloud communications leader, reveals that 61% of customers feel that IVRs make for a poor experience. Delving further, The State of IVR in 2018 indicated that an alarming 83% of customers have abandoned a company altogether after reaching an IVR’s menu of options. This results in a loss of $262 per customer every year when these same customers then go to a competitor and spend 89% of the money they would have spent on the original company.
Customer service leaders have since admitted to the drastic effect IVR has on customer satisfaction levels, failing to achieve its primary goals of reducing costs and delivering seamless customer experience.
Why and How IVR can go wrong
How can “Press 1 for X” and “Press 2 to speak to a representative“ go so wrong?
They’re unable to differentiate between the types of calls received or the reasons for which they’re made. Customers are thus forced to navigate the same time-consuming maze of menus each time they need to reach a representative. Older callers have a tough time following lengthy options and younger callers only get frustrated with the slowness of multiple menus.
Often built in isolation from other channels, IVRs are poorly integrated with the company’s web or app-based service offerings, failing to consider the broader context of a customer’s journey. Without access to specific customer history and preferences, they’re unable to provide personalised answers based on customer context.
Finally, IVR systems only track call-containment rates and at times, customer satisfaction. This inability to collect data on other key call metrics like the number of minutes recorded or topic of the call means that companies cannot make data-driven decisions or better understand their customer base.
So, why are companies still using IVR systems?
Despite the emergence of new customer interaction channels, IVR is still heavily used in companies everywhere fundamentally because they are still unaware of other superior options available in the market. Due to limitations in handling complex tasks and answering queries, IVRs instead only act as a traffic guide, ushering customers through the customer care maze. With updated technology, companies will be better equipped to engage, delight and craft an advanced customer experience.
Voice Bots: Your Solution
Automated customer experiences don’t necessarily have to be negative. Gartner predicted that by the end of 2020, an estimated 86% of customer relationships with companies will occur without the customer having to interact with humans at all. In fact, when implemented correctly, automated customer service is committed to creating a better customer experience than humans can.
As companies everywhere are now being faced with the increasingly pressing dilemma of either reducing operational costs or improving customer satisfaction, we present the solution to help you avoid having to trade one for the other - voice bots! As the modern-day cousins of IVR, they can similarly route customers to the appropriate department or person to handle their queries.
The greatest and most crucial difference? Customer centricity. Voice bots move customer experience to the forefront, prioritising the delivery of exceptional service before anything else.
Considering that customers wouldn't want to have to change the way they speak in order to interact with technology, AI-powered voice bots are embedded with Natural Language Processing (NLP), enabling them to understand different kinds of speech for natural conversing, and can even customise their accents <link to prev article>, making customers feel as if they’re just having a normal conversation with another person. All customers have to do after getting connected is to simply tell the bot what they need help with. The bot will then either answer their simple query on the spot or, in the case of complex questions, connect the customer to the relevant employee – all within the first few seconds of “hello”. In other words, long complex menus and precious customer time wasted will be problems of yesterday!
Voice bots not only solve long-standing IVR problems but also allow you to take advantage of the data your IVR already collects, including other key phone call metrics. Using natural language processing to identify call drivers and sentiment, companies are now able to gain detailed insights on customer interactions and make data-driven decisions to further hone a competitive edge.
Being interconnected to back-end systems, voice bots have unlimited access to customer context, allowing hyper-personalisation opportunities. Recognising customers straight away, they’re enabled to open up new revenue growth opportunities by up-selling and cross-selling based on specific customer history and preferences.
The result of the above features? Increased customer satisfaction and streamlined service delivery, all while still reducing your costs!
Time to consider a new technology that delivers
IVRs are essentially the “front doors” to your company or customer support representatives. If they’re no longer an inviting entrance creating welcoming first impressions, but a rusty old door that sometimes even sticks, they’ve unfortunately become the barrier that your business doesn’t need.
If you’re already using an IVR, rest assured that there’s absolutely no need to overhaul your entire system. A voice bot can simply be added on top with no hassle. You’ll be enjoying all its amazing features at your fingertips in no time at all! There is therefore no time like the present to properly evaluate if your company’s IVR is contributing to an all-around, improved customer experience or turning them away instead.
Enhance your customer experience with 2359Media’s very own Articulo Voice - a voice bot built with the desire to ensure complete customer satisfaction. Learn more now: https://articulovoice.2359media.com