Can IVR ruin customer experience?

Original author: Kim Campbell
We have all been in that position. We called toll-free numbers and listened to greetings from an interactive answering machine (IVR): "Welcome to Company X ...".

So, we know that we are not talking with a living person, but we optimistically hope that after a simple “yes” or “no”, or after a couple of keystrokes on the phone keys, we will get the required information. And sometimes it works as expected. However, according to research by JD Power and Associates, a good IVR is more an exception than a rule.

Studies have shown that IVR accounts for 33% of the customer’s overall impression of the quality of company services. Unfortunately, these same studies find that IVR is a weak link in most organizations, it potentially worsens the situation and contributes to a decrease in the quality of customer service. Comparison of satisfaction from communication with a live sales representative and with IVR showed that only in 7% of cases satisfaction from IVR was higher.

To better understand how IVR affects service quality, it is helpful to look at quality in terms of the SLICE-B model proposed by Tempkin Group. Each element of the model affects the overall quality of service. These are the following elements:

Start - to what extent is the user involved in practice?
Localization - how easily can a customer get what he needs?
Interaction - how well does the client understand and control what is happening?
Completeness - to what extent has the client achieved what he was looking for?
The end - with what mood the client moved on to the next step?
Compliance with the brand - how much has the opinion of the company improved?
How does your IVR match the SLICE-B model? Can IVR adversely affect customer service? To deal with this, let's look at the notorious pre-recordings and / or text-to-speech (TTS).

Please choose from 9 options ...

When an IVR works with simple, general requests, it is able to meet the needs of the client. In the case of providing complex services or responding to unique requests, along with an increase in the number of menu options, customer dissatisfaction also increases. Everyone knows the situation when you have to listen to the full list of menu options, even if an option similar to the one you are looking for is at the top of the list. Studies show that the average number of options that a person can keep in memory is between 3 and 4.

The long and deep menu tree has a bad effect on the second and third element of the SLICE-B model: it’s not only difficult to localize a suitable option, but also because of one-way interaction, the subscriber does not imagine when he reaches the option he needs. Only after repeating the entire menu does the user begin to imagine what to do. According to Forrester research, 45% of customers hang up if they are not able to quickly reach the desired option. They do not want to listen and try to remember long menus.

Sorry, this is the wrong answer ...

The client knows what he wants. The IVR system tries to predict what issue a client may ask, and tries to convey the necessary information to him. Unfortunately, instead of saying “I need this” and immediately receiving an answer, the client patiently presses the buttons, hoping in the end to get what he called. This is why Forrester research shows that the client receives the highest degree of satisfaction from communicating with a live operator.

The fourth and fifth elements of the above model - completeness and completion - complete everything that the client called and was effectively transferred to the next step - destructive when the user did not get the desired result. The ability to switch to a live operator can still save the situation, but often the user does not receive this opportunity and until then a positive opinion about the company completely crumbles to dust.

Press the bars to return to the main menu ...

Back in 20011, Natalie Dyke wrote an article for CRM Magazine (now DestinationCRM), entitled "Hell in IVR." Since then, the term has been used thousands of times by reporters, journalists, and bloggers describing many horrific stories about customers lost in tree tangles and endless cycles of poorly designed IVRs. This is what the sixth and final element of the model suffers from, which destroys your brand.

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