Time to take another look at the IVR

This week I have come across the IVR a number of times.  On some occasions I have found it easy to figure out which option to select.  On far more occasions I have struggled to make sense of the IVR options. I have found this especially frustrating where I have  a problem, I urgently need to get it fixed and I have only so much time to get in touch with someone in Customer Services.

The expert is poorly placed to understand the world of the novice.  The technology wizard is poorly placed to get the world of the ordinary technology averse user.  The company insider is poorly placed to enter into the world of the customer.  Therein lies a clue to the poor design of the IVR as viewed from the customer perspective.

How about designing the IVR along the following lines:

  1. I am merely looking for information (store locations, returns policy, product user guide…);
  2. I want to transact with you (buy something, pay a bill);
  3. I have encountered a problem with your product/service and need to talk to someone to get it fixed;
  4. I want to make a complaint about your organisation; and
  5. I want to share some information with you that I believe would be useful to your business.

I can see two major benefits of redesigning the IVR along these lines:

  • It is more in tune with the way customers see the world when they phone Customer Services; and
  • It provide more useful information – information that the business can use to improve internal operations.

A colleague tells me that this type of IVR system has only been implemented by one or two companies in Turkey: the redesigned IVR has delivered significant increases in customer satisfaction, in customer insight and in the effectiveness and efficiency of internal operations.

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant working at the intersection of strategy, customer, and technology. Combine a tendency to think strategically with a penchant for getting my hands dirty at the coalface of implementation.