Post Call IVR Surveys: Popular But Not That Useful


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After spending 15 minutes on the line to my bank the nice lady asks me if I will hold on the line after she hangs up to take a short survey. Sure what’s one more survey to someone who lives them 24/7!

After a couple of prompted button pushes to enter scores I get the chance to provide verbal feedback. I’m not the type to use circumlocution, I like to get straight to the point but I proceed with a relatively detailed account of a recent issue. I’m only half way through when I’m interrupted with a tone and being told that the recording has ended. Not a great experience.

Post call IVR surveys like this are the new in-thing with more and more organisations using the approach to gather transactional customer feedback.

The question is not whether they are possible, clearly they are, but whether they are useful. It turns out: not so much.

So let’s review how post call IVR surveys compare to email invites to web base surveys to see which is more effective.

Pros of IVR Surveys

Easy to Execute

Post call IVR surveys are generally easy to execute. If your IVR vendor supports the survey function then you can relatively easily set up a survey and start collecting data.

Low Cost

This type of inbound transferred IVR survey is low cost as there is no human interaction and no media costs.

Okay so it’s cheap and easy. That’s a good start but cheap and easy does not mean valuable.

Needs No Data About the Customers

Forwarding a caller to a post call survey requires no data to be collected or be accurate for completion. You don’t need email addresses or even cell/mobile phone numbers to receive the feedback.

For organisations that have poor or limited data in these areas that can be attractive.

On a side note, wouldn’t it be a better idea to collect and validate the customer’s email address and phone number while they are still on the call in the first place. Then you’ll have this contact information for use in the future.

Cons of IVR Surveys

Low Response Rates

It is difficult to get public figures on the response rates for post call IVR surveys. There are lots of data about the completion rate being high but that’s the completion rate for people who agree to be surveyed.

The chart below probably gives a better view of the overall completion rates by technology. As you can see online surveys may have a large number of “no responses” but when customers do respond they respond fully whereas many IVR surveys are only partially completed.

Note also that the online response rates noted here are lower than the Net Promoter survey response rates we typically see of between 10% and 25% of all invites.



Low overall response rates are caused by many things but an important one is that the survey must be done then and there. After the call customers may not want to wait around to complete a 2-5 minute survey.

On the other hand they can do the email survey anytime they like.

Only Captures The Telephone Touchpoint

If the only interface you had with your customers was via the phone then post call IVR survey may be viable but you probably have many more touch points in your business.

How will you measure your website experience, account manager calls, invoicing, delivery, etc. If you want to measure then at the very least you will need to set up a separate survey process with separate data entry and the associate business issues. Why not simply run all surveys using the same platform?

Another item not to be missed here is the survey bias that different survey methodologies can introduce into the score. Due to the ways that the human brain manages visual and verbal information it is likely that the scores on your IVR and other non-IVR based touchpoint surveys cannot be validly compared.

Poor Ability to Use Qualitative Information

The score is just the score and basically not useful for much more than tracking progress.

Qualitative information on the other hand is critical in determining how to drive continuous improvement in your customer feedback process. While scores are interesting and provide a benchmark to track success it is the qualitative feedback that helps you to understand how to improve.

Post call IVR surveys do not handle this qualitative data very well.

Difficult to Use Captured Feedback

Capturing the qualitative information is easy with post call IVR – simply record what the customer says. Unfortunately as a voice recording it is very difficult to use that information.

Having people listen to each recording individually is labour intensive and prone to long term apathy. So you need to convert that sound information to text information using speech to text software.

At present these systems get it about 70% right. If you have ever received a speech to text SMS message you know that the accuracy of this software is subject to some “variation”. Plus, that still leaves 30% of the feedback from your customers missing.

Limited Ability to Tag Qualitative Feedback

If you have only a few pieces of qualitative feedback you can read and act on them. Of course if you are thinking of implementing post call IVR then you will have way more than a few pieces of feedback so that approach is not going to work.

When you get over about 100 pieces of qualitative feedback you will need to start tagging that information so you can sort and analyse it in a productive manner. Tagging can be done in three ways:

  1. Manual tagging: This is where a person manually tags each piece of feedback based on what is in that feedback. Again this is a labour intensive process that is subject to human error and quickly gets old for the staff member(s) who have to do it.
  2. Passive machine tagging: this uses software to read the comment and interpret what tags should be applied. This can work quite well but setting up and training the software is not a trivial matter. It can also become quite expensive.
  3. Active customer tagging: in this approach the customer tags the data. This approach works well because it does not take company resources and customers can’t tag incorrectly, by definition.

The main difficulty with post call IVR is that you don’t have access to the third and most efficient option of active customer tagging. This leaves the less optimal manual tagging and passive machine tagging as the only options.

Ability to “Game the System”

Some amount of “gaming the system” can be expected in most surveys and post call IVR surveys are no different. Here the gaming can be as simple as not offering customers who are angry or unhappy the option of taking the survey.

There are a couple of ways around this:

  1. The survey invitation can be made a mandatory part of the agents closing scripts and emphasized in Quality Assurance reviews.
  2. The phone system can automatically re-direct all inbound phone calls to the survey at the end of the call. This eliminates the issue by removing the decision on whether to send a caller to the survey system.

In reality both of these approaches are still open to being gamed but the issue can be minimised.

Summary of Post Call IVR Survey Pros and Cons

So let’s look at what that looks like in summary form. As you can see while Post Call IVR surveys can be used to collect data they suffer from a number of issues in enabling the organisation to use the data collected.

If you are considering using this survey mechanism you might also like to consider if the outcomes will be useful as well as cheap and easy.

Post Call IVR Surveys
Email Invites to Web Base Surveys
Pros Easy to Execute

Low Cost

Needs no data about the customers

Easy to Execute

Low cost

Good response rates

Text data is accurate and immediately available

Text data is tagged by the customer

Active customer tagging is possible

Cons Low response rates

Poor ability to use qualitative information

Subject to gaming by operators

Limited ability to tag feedback

Inability to track other than telephone Touch points

Needs customer data, email address

What do you think about Post Call IVR Surveys? Drop us a comment below!

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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