Dear Bad IVR: It’s Not You, It’s Me

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IVRDear Bad IVR,

Sorry I stopped contacting you…honestly? It’s not you, it’s me. I need more, I deserve more and I expect smartness and intelligence built into you. I do not call you to give me senseless menu options followed by submenus with long hold music and promotional advertisements and finally, after all the wait and frustration, MAYBE the option to talk to a human being. Excuse me! But I do not have patience to stay on the phone and choose from options one after the other in the hope of reaching a live person, which may or may not happen, based on how you are set up. My life is too busy, I don’t have time to sit and aimlessly answer these questions without getting any value out of it.

I am tired of getting lost in the menu options and complicated path. Most of the time I can’t find the category for the reason I call you and I end up getting transferred multiple times. Sometimes your speech systems are so terrible that they can’t understand what I am saying, hence I yell to talk to a representative and hang up eventually. I expect you to automatically recognize me when I call you back, pull my records, my order history, support tickets, or anything you have so that we don’t end up communicating about that for five minutes before you can help me solve my issue. I know you could do that by smartly integrating with the CRM systems and back end databases, so won’t you please just do it?

I wish our relationship could help in getting callers and customer support representatives to save time by introducing smart self-serve options. This could potentially help in getting more calls answered with a greater efficiency and would also help free up call center agents to deal with more important and critical issues/callers, leading to improvements in response time and customer experience. But, I guess our relationship did not work the way I expected it to.

I do apologize for being rude, but I just can’t handle the fact that you are turning out to be an investment without return. The whole idea of getting us into this was to build a bond, which could help cut costs on the customer support fees by saving time. They say “Time is money” and the time we save by your smartness and intelligence can help the call center agents answer higher priority issues and make them more productive.

I always thought of us as a team, meant to put the customer experience first in everything we do. You’re supposed to offer the best experience that makes me want to call you again and again without hesitation. The key is to keep the caller involved and interested in the call flow, to encourage them to stay on the line by providing them with the information they need and support they expect.

I like you, I see the potential in you and I think you can do wonders if you are designed with a proper Virtual User Interface (VUI) assessment. I suggest you go through the call flow requirements with VUI experts. First step in doing so would involve answering the “why” question. Why would people call you? Next comes the “how” question. How would you handle the “why” in the best and most efficient way? Sticking to the purpose of “Why” will keep your call flow on track. VUI design experts will also suggest you to keep the number of menu levels low. You should only ask enough information to help the caller get proper service, do not interview him with irrelevant questions one after the other. Design the top-level menu option with extreme care, they say “the first impression is the last one” and your success, to a very large extent depends on callers perception of the brand.

Please understand that I care for you deeply. This is why I want you to know that you can also improve yourself by leveraging analytics. Perform regular health checks, to make sure all the caller options are useful and create shortcuts to the call flow to enhance the customer experience. You know what else you could try? You could make yourself more intelligent and powerful by adding speech analytics to your customer experience reporting. Spotting business critical keywords, phrases, pauses in response, etc. can be used very effectively to improve the call flow and drive business to next level.

IVR, please don’t ever think of this as being a “you vs. someone else” situation because it never has been. You were always my first choice, with all the qualities you can bring to the table, smart automation, time saving, successful and easy to use and set up. You have open access to multi-channel; I can send an SMS, e-mail, fax and update every possible record anywhere by just calling you. For years I didn’t think anyone could compete and I still believe in you but in this era of multi-channel, I expect you to be able to send proactive voice and text messages, outbound reminders, e-mail, fax and more.

I know that part of me will always love you and I’ll stand by you in all the improvements you are making to yourself to become what I expect of you: more intelligent and helpful in many ways. Let’s keep this friendship thing going and see what the future holds. I’ll call you, maybe?

For better or for worse,

-Your Loyal Customer

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About Aaron Wellman

Aaron Wellman is the Product Marketing Offer Lead for Self-Service solutions at Genesys. Aaron came to Genesys with the acquisition of Angel in April, 2013 where he had been with the organization for over 10 years. With a background in User Interface design and bringing phone application development tools to the market. Prior to Angel, Aaron was a Wall Street technologist, designing UIs for investment banking applications in the cloud. Aaron has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from James Madison University.