IVR’s Place In The Call Center

By Peter DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, Publisher and Editor of AnswerStat

IVR (Interactive Voice Response) has its place in the call center, but we need not overstate what that place is. If IVR can truly speed up the call for the caller or gather information to assist the agent in providing better service, then use it. However, when the primary goal of IVR becomes to save money, reduce the agent headcount, or limit customer service options, then it needs to be rethought. Here are my thoughts:

IVR Dos:

  • Always provide an option for the caller to press 0 to talk to an agent.
  • Provide short and basic options that can be readily understood by someone from outside your company.
  • Ask your customers, and even your friends, to call and test your IVR. Then fix the things that bug them.
  • Setup your call center’s IVR exactly as you would want one to work when you are calling someone else.

IVR Don’ts:

  • Don’t block the digit 0. “The customer is always right” and if the customer wants to talk to a person, then let them.
  • Don’t prompt for an account number if the agent is going to ask for it again.
  • Don’t have callers make entries (such for “billing”) and then not tell the rep which option has selected.
  • Don’t route callers to a general agent queue after you have made them take the time to tell the IVR specifically why they’re calling. Skip the subterfuge and just route the call.
  • Don’t provide level after level of menu options; keep it simple.
  • Don’t force a mildly irritated customer through a frustratingly long and cumbersome IVR tree, because they will exit it highly irritated – and take it out on the agent.

Yes, IVR has its place, but in most call centers, IVR is broken and needs to be fixed. What are you doing about it in your call center?

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.