Is Your IVR Helping or Hurting Your Brand?

Use Your IVR to Keep Social Media Critics at Bay

By Elle Kupferer

Let’s face it — the pitfalls of poor customer service are greater than ever and your IVR system can either add to the positive perception of your brand or contribute to your brand’s degradation or even its demise. This may seem obvious but it is surprising how many organizations don’t see the connection between what happens at the point of customer contact with the IVR system and the general marketplace perception of their brand.

The Economic Impact of Poor Customer Service is Staggering

According to an August 2016 Forbes article titled, Bad Customer Service Costs Businesses Billions of Dollars, 49% of respondents reported switching providers due to poor customer service, and of those, 67% switched more than once. It stands to reason that if you consider your IVR system an important aspect of customer service, it will either be a plus or minus on your income statement and balance sheet. The sad truth is that because the benefits are not so quantifiable, many companies who could spend a little time and money getting this right, persist in doing things the ineffective way.

As this NBC news article shows, some of the worst offenders in the customer service space are large corporations who should know better. To quote from the article, “Your call is important to us, please continue to hold.” Listening to that irritating recorded announcement when calling customer service is a frustrating and time-wasting experience. All the more so, because “When you put people on hold you are essentially telling them they’re not important and their business isn’t important,” said professor Mary Jo Bitner, executive director of the Center for Services Leadership at Arizona State University.

These large companies should get their act together and use their IVR systems to improve customer service. And if you are not such a large company, you can use your IVR and live agent systems to level the playing field.

To further illustrate why this topic is so important, here are some excerpts from a Twitter customer service report showing how more and more people are using social media to publicly address issues with companies:

  • 51% of Americans have reported switching service providers due to poor customer service.
  • Over 95% of consumers say they are at least somewhat influenced by what other people say about companies on social media.
  • Tweets about leading B2C brands are growing by over 50% per year.
  • Leading B2C companies are responding to about 60% of Tweets directed at their service accounts.

What is true for Twitter is also true for other social media like Facebook and Instagram. And there are websites like onholdwith.com and ripoffreport.com that exist specifically to report on poor customer service. Many of the posters to these sites do so specifically because of the inability of the IVR to support the consumer’s need for prompt issue resolution. Every time a call is abandoned or is needlessly routed to a support agent where the caller is put on hold or frustrated by the conversation — creates an upset customer who will potentially share their displeasure with anyone who will listen in cyberspace.

Is Your IVR Delivering the Customer Experience Your Customers Expect?

Despite the variety media available to your customers, the phone remains a key touchpoint for customer service. Your IVR is your phone interface to the customer, so IVR performance is critical to your brand. Poor IVR containment, mishandled routing, confusing prompts, and low recognition rates are all symptoms of a bigger issue. But what can you do if you expect there is a problem in this area? For one thing, you need to measure all the IVR metrics that pertain to your prospects and/or customers’ experience when they call for support. And when is the last time your IVR had a tune-up? Just as your car needs an occasional tune up to keep it performing correctly, so does your IVR. Not only can an IVR tune delay or eliminate your need for an IVR replacement but it can also achieve large benefits in reducing average call handling time (AHT), improved call containment statistics and improved customer satisfaction statistics.

Perhaps most important, by treating your IVR system as a key component of your customer experience (CX) program and the health or your company and product brands, you can avoid the nightmare of a bad social media presence and reap the payback from treating people the way they desire and expect.

View the original post at Forty7Ronin.