Stupid IVRs

Speech – Toastmasters Project 3 – Get to the point

As Toastmaster just said I will be talking today about IVR which stands for “Interactive Voice Response”.
In a laymen’s term, it is the automated phone menus that we hear when calling customer support.

Question – Did you know that how many phone calls Comcast alone receives every day? One million to 1.2 million phone calls per day!!
What does this mean?
It can only mean IVR IS a big deal and a business necessity for any company.

Few facts-
Did you know that over 70% of customers end up being unhappy after interaction with IVRs
And do you also know 8 out of 10 people prefer talking to a customer representative?

Fellow toastmasters and Dear Guests,
My speech today is not to talk about technical aspects of IVRs. (because it would end up being such a boring speech). I will be talking about “Not so Good” things about IVRs.
I’m not saying we need to get rid of them because they are obviously needed. But why are almost each one of them so badly done?
Let me illustrate what happened when I called with X-And-Y Global Services a few days back.

Hello, thank you for contacting XYZ, the home of Americas best XYZ service provider
Please listen carefully as our phone options have changed.

Wait a minute-
Don’t you think, there was so much information you just listened to that was totally unnecessary?

It does make sense to put much information on a website or a catalog printed out, but it does not make sense to read them out on a phone call. Why? because for God’s sake phone calls are linear and there’s no way for us to skip over what is being said.
When we browse a website, we definitely know that all our activities on the website get logged ins some way – be it in the browser, or Web server or who knows NSA is recording all our activities as well.
But do we get a pop-up or something that says we would be logging all the clicks and all? No right?
Then why do we have to listen to this –> “For quality and training purposes, your call may be recorded.”

Now that you just listened to all the unnecessary stuff, I got to hear this-

Press 1 for whiskey, press 2 for tango, press 3 for foxtrot , and it went on and on and on and finally, press 9 to talk to customer agent.
I was like – This has to be some scam where your time is deliberately being wasted.

After all the hassle till now, when I was about to connect to an agent, I got to listen to this – >
Now you can check your account details safely and securely online. To do this log on to –
Wait a minute, did I ask for that ?? This automated system is giving me some speech that I don’t care.
After that-
I had to listen to this annoying music for a good 2-3 minutes
and In between, I get this-
Your call is very important to us. We are making sure we serve you as soon as our agents are available. Please stay on the line-
I said to myself – Really?

And finally when I got to talk to a customer agent who said- “Hello how can I help you today”? and I had to explain everything right from the beginning.
If by any chance, your call gets disconnected. You will have to repeat the whole stuff again, IVR typically leads down a path with a pre-programmed one-size-fits-all approach based on options selected.

Enough said-

Let me propose a couple of very simple solution –
The problem here it takes away so much time just to get to the department I want to-
Have a section on the website where I can see the menus. There can be how much ever options of sub-options on the website.
I will click on the relevant ones, and then it would show me options of the next menu, this can go on till I reach a certain point in a menu.
I would probably get a code like 3-3-6, then I would call a number, IVR should (identify me with my mobile number- no questions asked) and press # or something and press 336 – Very simple
Or even simpler, just text the code and get back details.

Offering a route to a live agent in your main menu 70%–80% of callers will take this option, Companies believe rendering this would make IVR pointless.
But the end of the day, you would lose business if you are not letting customers do what they want to do right?
We could also think about automating smart IVRs using technologies like Alexa / Siri
We could also think about something like IVR + Smart Phone Apps collaboration or Visual IVRs
Dear Toastmasters,
I would like to conclude by saying – We just need to use some common sense and follow some simple steps to modernize our IVRs.
One should never over-utilize a good thing.
And, yes, I think an IVR is a good thing lets hope someone will make a smart IVR happen. 🙂