Do You Make Any of These IVR Mistakes?


Share on LinkedIn

IVR is becoming a key part of customer service but many businesses still make IVR blunders that are scaring customers away. Do you make any of the mistakes?

IVR MistakesIVR Mistakes

Image source

What is IVR?

IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is the way many of us navigate through a call centre. IVR uses voice recognition, to understand the nature of your query and answer simple questions.

It is a highly efficient way of routing calls, as well as dealing with simple inquiries. A typical IVR system is like an audible menu which asks customers why they are calling. IVR can answer routine queries such as ‘what time is the train?’ and for more complex problems, it simply routes the caller to the correct department.

IVR has mainly been embraced by larger businesses but as time goes on, many smaller businesses are starting to see the benefits. But like all technology, if it’s not used properly, it can be more of hindrance than a help.

Here are five common IVR mistakes and how you can avoid falling into the trap of confusing and infuriating IVR.

1.Confusing Menu

One of the most commonly cited problems with IVR, is that the menus can be confusing to navigate. If your system is like a maze, this will only infuriate and alienate your customers – and they’ll wish they could just speak to a real agent.

You don’t want your customers to feel lost in a sea of robotic voices, endlessly going round and round in circles. As a general rule, an initial landing menu should have no more than four options and should not exceed two rounds of menus. Also, make sure you have an option for the customer to go back to the previous menu if they’ve pressed the wrong button – otherwise they’ll have to hang up and start all over again.

If your menu is confusing, your customer will either hang up in frustration, or they’ll end up being put through to the wrong department and have to be transferred again. As a result, from both your point of view and in the eyes of the customer, your IVR system is seen to be completely pointless.

A well-designed IVR should make the process quicker, not longer. Surely the whole point of any technology is to make life easier and if your IVR system can’t achieve this, then you need to rethink your strategy.

2. Dead Air

Similar to how ‘dead air’ is often avoided on the radio; on the telephone it is even worse. From a customer service point of view, the caller needs to feel like there is somewhere there. Dead air is like calling a void and customers will begin to wonder whether the telephone has broken.

Dead air can occur within an IVR system, either when you are being transferred to an agent, or simply after you’ve heard the menu. Any abrupt silence that lingers just a little too long will make your customers feel like they’ve been disconnected, or like they really are talking to a machine. Good IVR will allow customers to forget that this ‘robotic’ aspect and think of an IVR menu as an extremely efficient receptionist.

Most customer service agents know the simple rule that you should never let more than 20 seconds go by without telling the customer what you’re doing (e.g. looking up a product) so make sure your IVR system knows this too.

From a business’s perspective, it is also a missed opportunity to advertise products or services, or even update your customers on your businesses news.

3. No 24/7 Service

Not providing an out-of-hours service is probably one of the worst IVR mistakes you could make. IVR needs to operate outside of working hours, even if you only offer a basic service. Today’s consumer is used to 24/7 access to information via the internet and they expect the same of businesses.

Obviously it would be impractical, even for larger retailers, to have a 24/7 call centre but that’s where IVR comes in. Seeing as IVR is simply technology, arranging it to operate on 9-5 working week schedule seems to be missing the point.

You should provide a basic self-service option for routine queries but also an option to request call back when the office opens again. Your IVR system should also give your customers the choice of alternative methods to get in contact such as email, as well as informing them of when the call centre is next open.

4. Jargon

You should always avoid using jargon in your IVR menu. Even if your menu is designed to be easy-to-use, confusing language and jargon can turn your IVR system into a patronising maze.

Use the voice of IVR to inspire confidence in your company. You should pick a voice and language which you think will appeal to your target audience – develop an IVR persona that your customers would want to talk to.

Keep your messages simple, logical and clear and your customers will be happy.

5. One-Size-Fits-All Messages

If you are going to target messages at waiting callers, make sure that they are relevant, interesting and personalised. Messages which are obviously sent to anyone that calls don’t have that personal touch.

Avoid messages like ‘thank you for waiting, your call is very important to us’. Customers hear this all the time and the more they hear it, the less likely they are to believe it.

Instead, use personalised offers and messages which are relevant to their problem or product. You never know, these messages could even answer a simple query that the caller might have.

Hopefully this has highlighted some of the most common IVR mistakes, and how to solve them. Many customers dislike IVR for these very reasons, but if more businesses were to integrate IVR properly, customers would warm to this highly useful technology.

What do you think is the best way to integrate IVR into your call centre? Are there any other IVR mistakes that you find infuriating? Share your thoughts and tips below.

James Duval
James Duval is a marketing expert who has been cited by Mainstreet, ProBloggingSuccess and MarketingProfs. He works for Comm100, thinking about new tricks and techniques in the email and marketing industries.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here