Ken McMahon of Vonage discusses how a disjointed interactive voice response (IVR) system can negatively impact the customer experience.
When it was first introduced, IVR was presented as a miracle solution for contact centres. However, after forming a core part of numerous companies’ customer service strategies for many years, the technology has been shown to have plenty of drawbacks.
One of the key benefits of IVR is freeing up time for contact centre agents, using technology to route customers to the right departments.
Unfortunately, this can be at the expense of the customer experience (CX), as demonstrated by recent research from Vonage. Its 2019 IVR study found that out of the 2,009 UK adults aged 16 to 55 surveyed, only 15 percent believed that IVR made for good CX.
In this article, let’s highlight the disadvantages of using IVR and the potential consequences it can have for a business.
IVR Puts Customers in a Negative Mood
As noted, IVR can be frustrating for customers. While it automates CX in one sense, in another it relies on the caller to do the work. The customer is presented with multiple options by an automated voice, which they must patiently listen through. This slows down the experience by adding a cumbersome step between them calling and reaching a customer service agent, often leading to frustration. If customers are calling in a positive mood, IVR can easily dampen it, and if they’re already in a bad mood, it’s only likely to intensify it.
Vonage’s Dynamic Routing (DR) solution avoids this issue by fully automating the routing process. Rather than relying on customers to listen through an endless array of options, DR considers your agents’ individual areas of expertise and keeps track of what repeat callers have previously contacted your company about. This allows for a more seamless experience, which for customers expecting to face IVR will be a pleasant surprise.
IVR Causes Them to Abandon Calls
In our recent report, 81% of those surveyed stated that they have abandoned at least one call to a business in the last year because they reached an IVR. Many consumers have had negative experiences with IVR systems in the past, making them unwilling to deal with them again. In some instances, your IVR may have cost you a call before it even properly began.
Vonage’s DR solution avoids many of the features of IVR that can cause frustration for customers, such as the long automated menus. As a result, it’s unlikely to provoke the same negative reaction from customers. It’s perfect for providing consumers with a fresh experience.
It Can Lead Customers to Abandon Your Business
In some instances, IVR can elicit an even stronger reaction from customers. If an IVR system is particularly frustrating, significantly damaging a business’s CX, it can even lead to the customer abandoning the business altogether. As highlighted by our survey, more than half of consumers (51%) have stopped using a business because they’ve reached an IVR. While IVR may appear to be cost-effective and time-saving, it can easily damage a business’s customer base if poorly implemented.
This highlights why CX should be one of your key priorities. When implementing new technology in your business, whether it is an IVR or DR solution, your primary concern should be how it affects your customers. Does it make the experience simpler and more seamless for them? If not, then you should reassess.
It Can Cause Them to Switch to Competitors
If a business’s competitor has a better CX, then it is much easier for them to draw away customers. One bad IVR experience can transform how a customer perceives a business, offering competitors an easy opportunity to convert them.
But this is something that can work both ways. By setting up your contact centre with an effective solution, such as Vonage’s NewVoiceMedia contact centre solution and DR capabilities, you can establish yourself as an attractive alternative for a customer unhappy with their current provider.
As noted by a Walker study, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020. If you want to stay ahead of competitors, it’s important to make it one of your top priorities.
Bad implementation of IVR can have a detrimental effect on how consumers view businesses, potentially causing them to abandon a company altogether. Businesses are placing more and more resources into improving their CX and so it’s essential to do the same if you want to stay ahead of the competition.
Technology is important, of course – but to connect people, not to keep them apart.
Customer experience is the one area companies can differentiate and compete in an increasingly commoditized world, and with solutions like Dynamic Routing, which enables customers to reach the most appropriate agent for their call, every time, there’s a path to great CX that’s waiting for smart companies to take.