Major IVR Technology Mistakes Your Business Needs to Avoid

Dóra Rapcsák
August 17, 2018
August 17, 2018
14 min read
#Customer Experience

Well-constructed IVR technology can be a great way to improve overall customer experience, allowing customers to efficiently contact specific departments and navigate to the appropriate agent. If you get it right, your customer service will definitely shine.

But if you get it wrong, the result will be a bunch of angry customers and a poor customer service reputation.

These days, it is common for companies to use IVR systems to more effectively handle their customer service traffic. However, many of them make simple but serious mistakes with their IVR, thus missing out on leveraging the technology to its full extent.

Of course, designing a well-constructed IVR that meets the needs of thousands of customers located around the world is no easy task.

So, to help you out, here is my list of the most common IVR technology mistakes I’ve seen during my 7 years’ experience as a customer service leader at a multinational company that provides customer service in 9 languages and deals with an average of 2500 incoming calls a day. Check them out and make sure your company is not also making the same mistakes. 

Mistake number 1: you don’t allow your customers to request a callback

Time is money – to your customers as well as your business. So, when customers call you, don’t make them wait on the line for too long, instead give them the option to request a callback.

One major IVR technology mistake is giving customers no choice but to wait on the phone until they are transferred to an agent, however long that takes.

Thanks to the latest technological advances, you can add and implement a callback function into your IVR system as an extra menu option. I’m pretty sure that whenever your customer service’s waiting queue is too long, your customers will appreciate it.

The benefit of implementing a callback function is that your customer service lines will be less burdened, and by covering the cost of callbacks, your customers will be able to see that you actually care for them. So you’ll be killing two birds with one stone!

Mistake number 2: you don’t inform customers of expected waiting times

Also in connection with queue waiting times, another major mistake many companies make is that they often do not inform customers how long it will take for them to be put through to an agent. As you can imagine, for customers it’s more than frustrating holding the line for an unspecified period of time, waiting and waiting…

But now there is virtual waiting queue technology to help you. Forward-thinking customer service lines are already leveraging this cutting-edge technology, which estimates the waiting time for customers and offers them the option of a callback when it’s their turn in the line.

And yes, it’s as simple as it sounds: a customer hangs up the phone and when the estimated waiting time is over, they simply receive a callback from your customer service. Amazing, right?

Mistake number 3: your IVR is too complicated or long – or both

In our fast-paced world, people want to have their issues resolved as quickly as possible. This is why making customers navigate through an IVR menu containing lengthy and complicated messages is probably one of the worst things you can do to your business.

If customers become confused or bored as your IVR repeats unclear or superfluous information, you can be sure that many of them will hang up.

Of course, the main goal of an IVR system is to direct customers to whichever department is appropriate for their issue, and as such larger companies often have no choice but to design an IVR system with a number of menu points.

However, in all cases try to ensure that your IVR messages are as brief and as simple as possible. It’s also a great idea to upload an IVR map to your website, as it helps customers gather the information they need without having to listen to your menu options one after the other.

Mistake number 4: your IVR lacks customer personalization

There’s no doubt that customer personalization is a hot topic in CX right now. Today’s customers are demanding, and expect tailor-made solutions to their problems. And, as they are paying for your service, they want that solution without delay.

One way of satisfying these customer demands is by utilizing customer personalization in your IVR. This will definitely help your business stand out from the crowd.

Let’s take an example: “For English version, please press……” is a common sentence we hear towards the end of IVR messages at companies for whom English is a secondary language. However, only sharing this information at the end is a huge mistake, because English speaking customers may have already hung up before getting to that option!

This is where customer personalization can help: it is now possible to filter calls based on callerIDs. By doing this, you can automatically switch customers calling from foreign numbers to your English-language IVR.

In addition, you can also use callerIDs to filter customers based on the region they are calling from. For instance, if your service is down in one region, it’s very likely that calls from that region will immediately increase. In such cases, you can simply filter calls from that region and display a message to them regarding the relevant issue.

Of course, there are other techniques as well to add a bit of personalization to your IVR system. For instance, you can filter incoming calls and direct customers to the appropriate agent based on customer identification numbers. Make sure to store all relevant customer information (in a GDPR compliant way!) in a reliable CRM system and make it available to your agents. Once your customers give their identification number, your agents will be able to deliver a more personalized customer service by using the customer information your call center stores.

Mistake number 5: you make your customers repeat the same information again and again

Yet another one of the most annoying IVR technology mistakes that drives customers crazy is when they are required to repeat the same information again and again.

Many times customers are asked to give their names and identification number in order to get transferred to a specific agent, and then when they are transferred, the agent asks for the exact same information again.

It’s difficult to win customers’ trust anyway, but if you make them repeat the same information again and again, they will feel they are not valued by your company.

My advice here is to keep and use customer information and make it available to all customer service reps, so that they have no need to ask customers to repeat information. As we all know, call centers accumulate an incredible amount of data, so here is a chance to use that data to leverage your customer satisfaction.

Mistake number 6: you don’t offer alternative communication channels for your customers to contact you on

Multichannel communication is becoming an essential part of our business world, so I trust your business is already utilizing it. By allowing your customers to use different channels to contact your customer service on, you can handle customer queries more efficiently and effectively.

As for IVR technology, it’s definitely a big mistake to make customers wait on the line without providing them with the option of contacting your customer service on another channel (as well as the option of a callback, as previously discussed).

Offering waiting customers, for instance, the option of contacting you via email or even webchat will help reduce wait times, increase efficiency, and again, improve your company’s customer service reputation.

Mistake number 7: your IVR doesn’t help customers outside opening hours

Technologies change in the blink of an eye, and so does customer behavior. While not so long ago customers relied on customer service phone lines when they needed help, today they prefer to solve problems on their own rather than contacting customer service departments.

In such an environment, one of the most common IVR technology mistakes I have experienced many times during the years is having IVR messages outside working hours that say “currently we’re not open, please call us back tomorrow at …”.

And to be honest, such messages are of no use at all to customers. If they want to know your opening hours, they’ll simply check your website.

Furthermore, depending on your business, your customers may not even need to speak to your customer service reps in order to solve a particular issue. For example, if you run an airline, you can allow your customers to check their flight number using only their phone: there really is no need for a customer service rep in such a situation.

The best way to try and satisfy these increasingly-common customer demands and expectations is to design and implement an IVR system with self-service options. It’s definitely not an easy task, but it’s worth the effort in the long term. And, as I already said, it’s fast becoming the norm.

Mistake 8: you don’t ask for feedback

Chances are that thousands of customers use your IVR system on a daily basis. And as we all know, however well-designed you think your IVR menu may be, there’s always room for improvement. And who better to help you improve than your customers!

However, another major IVR technology mistake companies make is that they commonly forget to ask their customers to provide feedback. To make sure you don’t make the same mistake, I would recommend adding an assessment menu option to your IVR.  

These days, customer reviews have great power, and since it is customers who use your IVR system, it is important you provide them with an opportunity to offer their valuable insights.

Another great idea is to send an SMS right after a call and ask customers to assess the quality of the interaction they just had.

Testing an IVR is always an essential part of implementation, but gathering real-time experiences from your customers will provide you with the most valuable insights regarding the quality of your customer service.

Mistake number 9: your on-hold music does not reflect your brand image

It’s always a tricky question: should you have some on-hold music or simply leave the phone ringing until an agent becomes available?

Although the choice to have some on-hold music may be the better option, my experience through the years is that decision makers sometimes base their choice of on-hold music on their own personal preferences, rather than something that reflects the company’s brand image. I’ve heard on-hold music that included Rolling Stones and other 80s hits, just to mention a few. Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t like Rolling Stones, but is on-hold music really the best place to display your personal music tastes?

Probably not. Instead, try and go for on-hold music that reflects your brand image.

Another great idea could be going for a mix of on-hold music along with some of your current offers or recent news regarding your company. By doing this, you provide your customers with an interactive waiting time, and even promote your products or services.

Mistake number 10: you think your IVR is perfect

Test, measure, improve! That’s definitely the “Holy Trinity” of IVR solutions.

Even if you spent a great amount of time designing and implementing your IVR system, bear in mind that there’s always room for improvement.

In fact, your IVR menu should never be considered finished! Customer behavior and technologies are constantly changing, and what was a great solution in the past can easily become outdated.

Make sure to monitor customer trends and always think of your IVR as a process of continuous improvement, rather than a finished product.

Do you know other IVR technology mistakes businesses definitely should avoid? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section!

Dóra Rapcsák
Dóra Rapcsák is Content Strategist and Copywriter at VCC Live®. As a Content Marketer and CX enthusiast, her aim is to discover and tell you about tomorrow’s ideas on Digital Marketing and Customer Experience.
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