Friday, October 1


"For options in English please press one, para empezar en Espanol, por favor oprima el numero dos." Although I had to look up the Spanish translation, I almost had it down exactly. Calling Customer Service for many customers is often a last resort. The time spent to resolve an issue, ineffective service representatives, and poor solutions add to the reluctance to contact Customer Service. But when we do call, we often push buttons and have our buttons pushed.

My granddad recently moved and changed his telephone number after 40 years. The same home phone number. He did not want his previous number to have his forwarding number recorded. He receives 20 telemarketing calls every day. (Probably because he signs up for every Publisher's Clearing House and the like through the mail, often giving his phone number each time.) My mother called the phone company to have his number changed. And the intro began, :for options in English....," and I heard my mom say she just wants a representative. To her, trying to figure out what option to push was annoying. She just wanted a live person. And so begins the division.

Businesses want to effectively route calls to the appropriate representative with the correct skill set. But by creating a calculus formula to figure out what direction to take in the IVR, the decision is often abandoned and results in customers pressing "0." So are businesses being efficient or not? Think about it....

If representatives spend even 10% of the call trying to work through pre-call emotions that customers have when presenting their problem, this can often overtake the entire call. If someone is already reluctant to call customer service, then calls and spends several minutes trying to reach someone, doesn't that generate a whirlwind of unnecessary emotions for the caller. What might have been a simple request, has now become a national threat to your customer. Is that what you want?

I have been on both ends of this spectrum. When I designed the IVR system for a company I worked for, I tried to look at it from the customer's view, the employee's view, and how the call would impact customer advocates. The result provided some benefits because customers did use the basic options provided to reach the appropriate department, but still, some continued to press "0." And that might just be the magical number.

How can businesses improve their telephone relationships with IVR? Do you have better solutions that will achieve the results for customers and companies? Post your comments here:

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