Give Your Customers a Break: Fix Your IVR

By Erin Hanley | July 25, 2017

[Editor’s note: Below is a guest blog from Donna Fluss, President of DMG Consulting LLC. To dive into the topic further, check out Donna’s full whitepaper titled, ‘Your Customers Deserve a Better IVR Experience.’]

Millennials are now the largest generation, one that has a strong preference for using self-service solutions like interactive voice response (IVR) systems and websites – if they work. However, if a self-service system isn’t doing its job, DMG research has found that Millennials will be even quicker than Baby Boomers to pick up the phone and call for help. While it’s a best practice to allow your customers and prospects to interact in their channel of choice, the numbers make the point – it costs $3.00 to $6.50 for a live agent to handle a call, and only $0.10 – $0.25 for a typical IVR transaction. This means that companies can save thousands to millions of dollars by investing in their IVR system.

IVRs handle anywhere from 10% to 90% of calls in many consumer-oriented contact centers. The effectiveness of an IVR will vary based on the business vertical and the activities handled by the contact center. Service organizations that primarily provide information typically have a higher IVR utilization rate (also known as a displacement rate) than those that are transactional. At least this is the way it was in the past. But the current generation of IVR technology allows many more activities, both informational and transactional, to be automated, reducing the need for callers to speak with live agents.

Another major issue is that IVRs are so dependable that many companies implement them and then forget about them until there is a major change such as a merger. While it’s great that IVRs are so reliable, it is a costly mistake to leave them on “auto-pilot”, as there are always opportunities to improve their effectiveness and, in turn, the satisfaction of your customers who use the system. This has always been the case, but now that the largest group of consumers is Millennials, who prefer using self-service technologies, ignoring your IVR could hurt your bottom line and your brand. For all companies that use an IVR, DMG recommends setting up an optimization program to review and enhance the solution periodically. If your IVR is handling millions of calls each month, it should be reviewed and optimized monthly. If it handles a few thousand calls per month, updating it quarterly or every six months is fine. The idea is to establish a formal process that identifies impediments to a successful IVR self-service experience, and look for new activities that can be automated and add them to the solution.

To learn how to build a business case to justify an investment in your IVR, read DMG’s whitepaper, Your Customers Deserve a Better IVR Experience. This paper also lays out the steps for building an IVR continuous improvement program, and provides a decision framework to help convince management that it’s time to improve your IVR.