Is Your IVR Dying a Death by a Thousand Papercuts?


Guess what? Customer experience is important. Lots of people will even tell you that we are in the customer experience economy these days. More and more companies find themselves now competing primarily on the experiences they deliver to their customers rather than their brand or their product or even price. So, if that’s the case, then why do so many IVR teams get treated like order takers rather than a strategic partner in the customer experience economy?

 closeup of chain of paper people cut on white background

The Fundamental Problem  

The fundamental problem is that there isn’t a standard way to measure the quality of an IVR experience. Customer experience in the IVR has always been treated as a very subjective thing. Good or bad customer experience is based on the style and preferences of the designers, not empirical measurements. When empirical data has been applied, it ends up being things like containment rate, which may actually be counter to the customer experience being delivered.

Companies do apply traditional CSAT measurements or offer a brief satisfaction survey at the end of the IVR experience, but that feedback is often more about the success of the interaction than the experience of completing it.


"The fundamental problem is that there isn’t a standard way to measure the quality of an IVR experience." 


Other communication channels have a plethora of metrics used to gauge their performance, if not the experience they deliver. Take the web—another self-service channel. They use click stream, time on site, and conversion rates to measure their effectiveness. They don’t simply wait until the end of the transaction to ask the customer if they are satisfied. Would similar metrics work for your IVR? Tracking even simple things like number of steps (sort of like the number of clicks on the web), or the length of time it takes to accomplish a task (which equates to time on page or click stream in the web world) would provide a really good starting point. Without these types of metrics, you have no standards, and no bar to measure potential changes against. The result can be the death of your IVR customer experience by a thousand papercuts. 

Collaborating with the Business

The lack of these types of metrics also fundamentally changes the conversation that IVR groups have with their business counterparts. Instead of a meaningful collaborative discussion on how to solve business needs in the IVR, the business simply treats the IVR group as order takers. Someone from the business decides they want to add some new functionality to the IVR. So they go to the IVR group and tell them to make that specific change. OK, what will that change do to the customer experience? Maybe nothing, or maybe it will improve the experience—after all, we are giving the customer more information or a new function they can use to complete their own service. How can that be a bad thing? But what if your customers were just barely tolerating your IVR up to that point and now they won’t anymore? What if that additional function is the one that is going to extend or confuse the customer’s IVR experience to the breaking point?

An example I came across recently was a customer that had 10 different steps in their IVR before the caller could request any information from the system at all. The team that managed the IVR wasn’t even aware that was the case. When they looked at that information directly, they knew immediately that it was a bad customer experience. But not one of the people on the IVR team could tell me how they got there. It was likely just one mandated change on top of another that had come from the business over the preceding few years. And those changes were added without any empirical measurement system to evaluate the impact of those changes on the customer experience—they were just all included until they got to the point where customers would be 10 steps in before they could do anything.

CX Metrics for Your IVR

What’s the solution? Managing to a comprehensive set of CX metrics for your IVR—similar to what you do for your web—allows you to gain the insight you need to make decisions that will improve your CX. It’s not rocket science and you can take baby steps. Start with what you have—containment rate, and perhaps a survey, and add a couple of simple measures like the number of steps it takes to complete a particular function, and the length of time it takes to accomplish a task—and you’re well on your way to having meaningful insights about the customer experience you are delivering through the IVR.   

Having a quantifiable measurement system is key to improving your CX, and also having meaningful conversations with the business. You can start to help the business to evaluate the changes they want to make against a standard and provide better guidance on what that will do to the customer experience—the customer experience of thousands or even millions of customers that virtually walk through your front door every day. That is the type of guidance you need to provide.   

Measurement can also help elevate the IVR in other ways. The IVR is often left behind in investments in CX, due in part to its legacy of being an isolated telecom infrastructure function. Meaningful, quantifiable information that can be equated to the quality of the customer experience you are delivering, is key to bringing your IVR group out of the shadows and turning it into a strategic customer experience delivery partner. 

Cyara provides solutions that can deliver the type of customer experience data about the IVR that are the basis of that type of meaningful, quantifiable information. Let us help you move your organization into a more strategic customer experience role.  

Contact Cyara today to get started.

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