Things You Should Not Do With Your IVR and How to Prevent Them

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Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) is the first point of contact between your customers and your company. It can have either a positive or negative impact on your customer experience, depending on how much attention you pay to its design and maintenance. Let us outline the most common IVR mistakes and how you can avoid them.

In this article you will find detailed information on such issues:

The Most Common Mistakes: How to Prevent the Problems With IVR:

We bet that at least once in your life you have faced problems with complicated IVRs. For example, you call a telecom service provider because of problems with an Internet connection and try to reach a live agent. You listen to a long voice menu and find a “Connect with an agent” option only at the end of it. Then, you wait for an available agent for at least 10 minutes, listening to boring and repetitive music that drives you up the wall. What’s the result? You are angry and frustrated and it’s no surprise if you decide to change the provider in the end. Now, imagine that it is your call center’s IVR. How many customers will you lose?

The Most Common Mistakes

Too many options. One of the main benefits of IVR is that it allows your customers to solve their problems or get the necessary information quicker. However, when a voice menu in your IVR contains more than 5 options it may confuse them because it exceeds the capacity of human memory. Try to limit the number of options. If it is impossible to do, consider using speech recognition technology.

Information is poorly organized. The most frequently accessed information should be listed first to save your customers’ time. If half of their calls refer to account balance and only 5% go to sales put the account balance first. Otherwise, your customers will be frustrated. There are also problems with the “Connect with an agent” option. If it is located in your main menu your IVR may become useless: most of the callers will choose it. Another extreme is when your IVR is fully automated and callers can’t reach live agents. It also can make your customers frustrated.

IVR jail. A customer chooses some of the menu options, then listens to all the information in suboptions and finds nothing they are looking for. They try to return to the main menu but such an option is not available. Experts call such situations “IVR jail”. There’s no need to say how irritating it is. Of course, your customers can hang up. But can you be sure they will call back?

2. Waiting

Having less than 2 on-hold messages. You never know how long your customers may wait in the queue. Listening to the same message every 30 seconds can drive everyone up the wall. So you should have a variety of them, at least three.

Annoying and repetitive on-hold music. Choose the music you want to playback to your customers carefully. It shouldn’t loop too frequently and be loud. Waiting isn’t a pleasure by itself so don’t turn it into torture.

Inappropriate information (for example, promotions). Adds are the last thing people want to hear while waiting for solving their queries. It is good to play them back for someone who calls you first but not for existing customers or partners.

No callback option. If your IVR system can’t solve the customer’s problem and they can’t reach any of your agents it would be unfair not to allow them to schedule a callback. Such an option can improve your customer experience, showing that your company values customers’ time. So do not forget to add it to your IVR menu.

No wait time information. Your customers have a right to know how long they will wait in the queue: for one minute or fifteen minutes. You should inform them about that but this message shouldn’t be too repetitive. It is not wise to remind a customer every 30 seconds that they are going to wait for another 15 minutes.

3. Messages

Too formal language or industry jargon. Do not use written language when drafting your IVR script. Long words and phrases may confuse your customers. The same goes for industry jargon. All the information should be in plain language.

Voice. It is obvious that voice is very important in the IVR. But there are many situations when it does not correspond with your brand or speaks too slowly or too fast. It is also jarring enough when you hear different voices in the IVR menu so all the recordings should be done by the same person.

Poor quality recordings. It may happen when you record your IVR menu options in-house instead of using professional voice recordings. It also happens when you do it by yourself because such work needs some skills. So it will be better to hire talent.

4. Interaction With Customers

No follow-ups or customer satisfaction surveys. Send follow-up emails or text messages, asking customers to assess their user experience. It won't take too much of their time and give you valuable information both about your IVR menu and customer support as a whole. Moreover, it will show that your company really cares about service quality.

No personalization. Every customer deals with the same menus and messages, no matter what interactions with the company they had before. It may become an unpleasant experience not only for them but for your agents as well. Your employees have to deal with various people, including those who just want to spam or vent out. As a rule, such persons are added to the blacklist and later the Interactive Voice Response System filters their contacts out, not connecting them with live agents. As for existing customers, personalization of the IVR menu allows them to listen only to the information they may be interested in. For example, if your customer is from San Francisco they are unlikely to be interested in your promotion actions in New York City and vice versa.

Redirecting customers to your website. If a person tries to solve their issue through a phone call, it means that it is more convenient for them. So asking them to visit your site for more information isn’t the best solution.

5. Lack of Maintenance

Everything changes and your business changes as well. You have to regularly update your IVR menu, removing all outdated information (business hours, promotions, etc), adding or removing some options if necessary.

Source: GetVoip

How to Prevent the Problems With IVR

1. The Major Red Flags

When do you have to check your IVR? Every time you see the following signs:

  • IVR statistics is substantially different from the average data in this period
  • Your call center workload doesn’t change but the IVR metrics are falling
  • You have a self-service option in the IVR but clients are still addressing your agents with the same request and such cases happen more often than not
  • The time callers spend on listening to IVR messages is significantly less than their duration (that is, customers mostly do not listen to them till the end)
  • The percentage of customers who are served by IVR is substantially lower than planned.

2. Test Your IVR Regularly

You will never know how user-friendly your IVR system is until you test it. Do it by yourself as a customer or ask someone who doesn’t know your business. Testing will help you to reveal all weaknesses of your system and will give room for improvement.

3. Track Key Metrics

There are a number of KPIs that are useful to track when it comes to IVR.

  • Self Service Rate - a percentage of completed contacts compared to the total number of contacts with IVR
  • Abandon Rate - a percentage of callers who left IVR before making some actions but not reached an agent
  • Opt-Out Rate - a percentage of callers who connected with your agents through IVR
  • Routing Accuracy - a percentage of calls routed to the appropriate agents without further transfers


IVR software is a good self-service tool that helps you to provide customers with the necessary information. At the same time, it requires ongoing maintenance and testing. With the Voiptime Cloud call center solution, you can easily track your IVR metrics and make your voice menu as customized as possible. Our experts will be more than happy to help you.

Tanya Gonchar

Expert in call center process automation, Head of Marketing at Voiptime Cloud. Interested in customer service, B2B sales, marketing, business analysis.

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