9 Common IVR Issues (and how to solve them) (2022)

Traditional Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology has played an essential role in the contact centre for decades. However, it was not without its faults. As the AI revolution gathers pace and the customer services landscape shifts towards digital solutions and an omnichannel approach, IVR is also evolving.

Its modern incarnation – Intelligent IVR – resolves many of the issues that held previous versions back. It cuts costs, ensures human agents are deployed more efficiently and allows customers to self-serve 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It does so while also contributing to a more holistic customer service system that encourages channel shift and emphasises the importance of excellent customer experiences.

With this in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to take an in-depth look at nine of the top issues associated with traditional IVR systems and explain how you can resolve them.

In this article...

  1. High Abandonment Rate

A high abandonment rate is problematic for all organisations. It means that users are dropping out of the customer service system rather than self-serving or waiting to be put through to a human agent.

This can be disastrous for an organisation’s reputation and may result in customers switching to competitors. The importance of low abandonment rates and excellent customer service is emphasised by the recent findings that 96% of consumers believe customer service determines the extent of their loyalty to a brand (Nextiva).

9 Common IVR Issues (and how to solve them) (1)

To overcome the issue, you can take several steps.

  • Intelligent IVR’s comprehensive analytics allow you to identify when and where callers are abandoning. Some abandons are to be expected (some users simply won’t interact with IVR systems or may be distracted while on the phone) – but Intelligent IVR helps you isolate those that occur out of frustration.
  • You can change Intelligent IVR menus and scripts quickly and easily, so your organisation can respond to current events and shifting circumstances. This reduces abandonment by ensuring callers receive the menu options and information they need.
  • Intelligent IVR can push callers towards channels and resources that they would never otherwise find, increasing the number of customers who do self-serve. In turn, this reduces the number of calls agents have to handle and lowers wait times. As long wait times are a key contributor to customer frustration, this has a considerable impact on your abandonment rate.

learn more about Inform’s Intelligent IVR

(Video) IVR Top 10 Tips to take IVR from good to GREAT

  1. Insufficient Caller Information

71% of consumers feel frustrated when a shopping experience is impersonal (Forbes) and we all know just how annoying customers find it when they’re asked to re-enter personal details or re-explain their problem several times.

On the other side of things, a lack of customer information is just as frustrating for the agents fielding calls. Ideally, they want the customer’s history and recent customer service interactions up on their screen before the caller is connected.

The solution is an Intelligent IVR system that incorporates caller authentication technology. Correctly identifying a customer allows you to provide superior service, routes them through IVR more effectively and ensures they successfully self-serve more often.

In some cases, accurate customer identification will allow you to employ a proactive messaging strategy. This involves communicating important and relevant information to a customer without them having to navigate through the IVR system.

Even when IVR caller authentication doesn’t help the customer to self-serve or put your agent in a better position to serve the caller, it has its benefits. Studies show that perceived wait time is reduced when those in the queue are doing something or kept busy (Queue-Fair). This means you can also reduce abandons by using caller authentication to make customers feel as though they’re not waiting as long.

  1. Poor Call Containment

Call containment measures the percentage of customers who complete their enquiry using self-serve technologies. In other words, it’s the number of callers who complete without needing to speak to a human agent.

If you’re struggling with a poor call containment rate, your IVR system isn’t fulfilling one of its principal functions – providing self-serve automation for high-volume enquiries.

9 Common IVR Issues (and how to solve them) (2)

Intelligent IVR vastly improves the technology’s capacity for self-serve by allowing for greater integration with other self-service channels. IVR systems can connect users to Chatbots, online guides and FAQs. With Phone to Mobile Web services, they can send useful URL links directly to customers’ mobile phones via SMS.

Intelligent IVR also facilitates a wider range of self-serve transactions than traditional systems. Customers can make payments and report issues with services, for instance.

read Intelligent IVR Case Studies

(Video) Tech Talk: Common Issues with IP-PBX Dialing and How to Solve Them

  1. High Transfer Rates

Though IVR ensures a large percentage of customers are able to self-serve, many will still want or need to speak to a human agent.

One of IVR’s primary functions is to route callers quickly to the most appropriate human agent available. If customers are reaching the wrong human agent after passing through the IVR system, they’ll need to be transferred to the right department or individual.

This is frustrating for the caller, wastes valuable agent time, and increases the customer’s wait time. A whopping 72% of consumers view having to talk to multiple agents as constituting poor customer service (Nextiva).

Intelligent IVR helps prevent this in two ways. First, it offers you a simple and speedy way of changing problematic menu prompts (which often cause mis-navigation and result in the customer having to be transferred).

Second, it’s better able to identify the right human agent for the call and ensure the customer is routed directly to them. This is particularly important if you’re covering complex service areas that require your contact centre agents to specialise and focus their expertise. There’s no benefit to having expert agents in your contact centre if you don’t have an IVR system capable of connecting them to the callers who need them.

  1. Overly-Complex Menus

If your IVR is too complex, callers will also tend to zero out or hang up quickly, limiting the success of the system.

Consequently, all IVR systems should attempt to reduce the number of menu layers a caller has to go through before they’re transferred to a human agent or they’re able to successfully self-serve.

As a general rule of thumb, three menu layers should be enough to get the job done. However, some organisations will require an additional layer or two. Some will be able to make do with fewer.

9 Common IVR Issues (and how to solve them) (3)

There are also several other changes you can make to simplify navigation. They include:

  • Putting the most popular options first. If the vast majority of customers are calling to pay a bill, make sure this option is number one on your menu.
  • Limit the number of options available in each level of the menu. Any more than five options is typically too many to remember.
  • Pause between options.

Intelligent IVR’s adaptive design is also remarkably valuable in this kind of situation. As we’ve already mentioned, it can be reconfigured to better represent your current customer service reality relatively easily. However, it also improves the likelihood of customers self-serving by offering them more opportunities and channels in which to do so.

  1. Stilted, Unnatural-Sounding Scripts

(Video) Switchvox: Building Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Menus

If you’re not writing your scripts with the help of customers, consumers, or professional IVR designers, there’s a good chance they’ll end up less than perfect.

When an organisation designs an IVR script, they tend to write it from their own perspective. They’ll employ industry-specific jargon and describe options in ways that don’t resonate with the intended audience. Often, they’ll make the script far too complicated, causing the caller to lose track of their options or grow frustrated.

This can be overcome in a number of ways:

  • No jargon – ensure every word can be easily understood by all callers.
  • Simple English – try and make the phrasing as simple as possible. The language used needs to be relatable.
  • Use a friendly tone of voice – callers don’t want to be greeted by a cold and robotic IVR system, they prefer a friendly tone.

However, the easiest way to avoid stilted scripts is to employ the services of experienced IVR professionals who will help you avoid common mistakes.

  1. Lack of Personality and Branding

IVR may not seem the most obvious arena in which to develop your brand, but you should make an effort to ensure your telephony service does reflect your personality and values.

Research has shown that we attribute complex character traits to voices within a second or two of hearing them (VoxGen). This means that your recorded IVR voice needs to reflect the qualities you want associated with your brand.

9 Common IVR Issues (and how to solve them) (4)

A fitness centre might want to use something a little more “high-energy,” while a financial institution will likely be more authoritative and professional.

Once you’ve settled on your brand’s voice, you must test it on customers. Though you may feel you’ve struck the perfect tone, only focus groups will tell you whether you’re right.

  1. IVR Downtime

Nothing is more damaging to an IVR system than downtime or design errors. Not only are they unprofessional, but they also prevent customers from getting in touch. If they’re not getting in touch, they’re looking elsewhere and reaching out to competitors.

Testing is key to ensuring your IVR system is good to go. Of particular importance is stress-testing. This allows you to see how your system performs when placed under heavy loads and is essential prior to any period in which you’re expecting high call volumes.

Likewise, organisations need to test to ensure that there are no broken menus or opportunities for customers to get stuck in never-ending loops. Ultimately, it’s better to delay IVR implementation than launch a substandard service.

Intelligent IVR also prevents downtime through the use of cloud technology. Cloud-based systems are far more reliable than in-house systems and the reputations of companies that operate them are often made and broken on their ability to offer “zero downtime” services. Consequently, they’re likely to keep your systems up and running at any cost. When you consider the fact that, on average, downtime costs businesses around £6,500 per minute (IronOrbit), it’s clear why minimising that downtime is so important.

(Video) 9 Best Call Center Software Companies | Call Center Software Features | Ameya Damle

Similarly, cloud-based services can be updated more easily and frequently. By facilitating regular, small updates to the system, cloud based Intelligent IVR services are less prone to issues and mistakes can be rectified far more quickly.

  1. Poor IVR Handover Leading to Unprepared Agents

If a human agent is unable to answer a customer enquiry in a satisfactory manner, it doesn’t matter how effective your IVR system is. In fact, it could be argued that it makes your IVR system redundant.

After all, what’s the point in investing in telephony routing technology if it doesn’t matter who the customer speaks to as no agent has the answer?

There are two solutions to this problem. The first is training. Invest in your human agents as you would any other customer service technology and it will pay dividends. Second, integrate Intelligent IVR systems with your CRM and make sure agents get as much information about the customer and their previous enquiries. Knowledge is power and the more details your agents have access to, the more likely they are to resolve an issue.

9 Common IVR Issues (and how to solve them) (5)

What Next?

This guide was created to help your organisation troubleshoot IVR problems. However, a truly effective IVR requires the experience of industry experts.

That’s where we come in.

At Inform, we work with public and private sector organisations to design, build and refine Intelligent IVR systems that automate high volume enquiries, free-up human agents, and allow you to reduce your customer service expenditure.

More often than not, it makes sense to work with specialists. When it comes to Intelligent IVR, we’re those specialists. We have more than three decades of experience designing, building and implementing game-changing customer service technologies. Over that time, we’ve built long-lasting relationships with clients who recognise and appreciate the value we provide. We’ve worked alongside the City of Edinburgh Council for more than 12 years and have implemented customer service tools that perform the work of 13.4 Full-Time Employees (FTEs) and handle more than 50% of calls without the need for agent intervention.

Have a question or want further information on improving customer service using IVR Telephony? Our expert team has been providing customer contact solutions for over 30 years. Call us on 01344 595800 or drop us a line.

Our expert team have been providing customer self-service solutions for over 30 years. Call us on 01344 595800 or drop us a line to find out more.

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By Julian Mead|2022-05-20T15:29:16+01:00May 20th, 2022|

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About the Author: Julian Mead

9 Common IVR Issues (and how to solve them) (6)

Julian Mead is Director of Client Services at Inform Communications. Prior to joining Inform, he had a long career as a Practitioner with Local Authorities, working in Revenues & Benefits, Customer Services, Sundry Debts, Overpayments and Document Management as well as bid work and consultancy.

(Video) Automated Interactive Voice Response IVR & Voice Mail VM Testing

FAQs

What is IVR issue? ›

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is an automated phone system technology that allows incoming callers to access information via a voice response system of pre recorded messages without having to speak to an agent, as well as to utilize menu options via touch tone keypad selection or speech recognition to have their ...

How can I improve my IVR? ›

  1. Personalise as much as possible for IVR. ...
  2. The Business Intent should not be to hide agents. ...
  3. Adopt conversations with IVR. ...
  4. Make things visual. ...
  5. Don't keep your Customer Waiting. ...
  6. Analyse, IVR data can provide you the Insights. ...
  7. Measure your ROI with IVR for Task Completion Rate (TCR)

What is an IVR solution? ›

Interactive voice response, or IVR, is an automated telephone system that combines pre-recorded messages or text-to-speech technology with a dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) interface to engage callers, allowing them to provide and access information without a live agent.

What are the challenges Address by Managed IVR? ›

Challenges Addressed by Managed IVR
  • No Busy Signals. ...
  • Empowering the Customer with Self-Service. ...
  • Customers Aren't Lost on Hold. ...
  • Problems Are Solved the First Time Around. ...
  • Learn More About Your Callers. ...
  • Make a Great First Impression. ...
  • Seamlessly Handle a Higher Call Volume. ...
  • Reduce Cost Per Call.
9 Oct 2020

What is IVR example? ›

An example of IVR is when you call a company or business, and then you hear “press 1 for technical assistance, press 2 for sales support, press 0 to speak to the operator”. After you make your choice, your call is routed to an extension/call queue, or, for example, a voice message is reproduced to you.

How is IVR testing done? ›

What is IVR Experience Testing? Experience testing refers to 24/7 testing of the Customer Experience being delivered by IVR systems. Essentially, it's an automated secret shopper. Test calls are made at regular intervals to ensure everything is working correctly all the time.

How many options should an IVR have? ›

The conventional wisdom regarding these options according to Bruce Belfiore, CEO and senior research executive at BenchmarkPortal is that the branching tree structure of an IVR “should be no more than five (options) across (in the top menu) and three (submenus) deep.

How do you design IVR? ›

10 IVR design tips for creating a user friendly IVR
  1. Keep introductions to a minimum. ...
  2. IVR should sound like an agent. ...
  3. Allow barge-in for all prompts. ...
  4. Reassure your customers. ...
  5. Provide mobility options. ...
  6. Pass info provided by customer to agent. ...
  7. Always provide customers with a live agent option. ...
  8. Don't waste customers' time.

How many types of IVR are there? ›

The two basic types of IVR services are inbound and outbound. Inbound IVR systems handle incoming call volume, while outbound IVR systems make calls on either a total or partially automated dialing basis.

What are key features of IVR? ›

Key IVR Features
  • Information Provider. Upon calling a system, an IVR menu can be used to provide a caller with extremely useful information. ...
  • Call Filter. ...
  • Identification. ...
  • Call Queuing & Callback Automation. ...
  • Voice Recognition. ...
  • Call Recordings. ...
  • CRM/IVR System Integration. ...
  • Self Service Actions.
26 Mar 2022

What is IVR call flow? ›

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a system of automated call flows that lets customers select what they need from a menu of options, collects any needed information from them, and then routes their calls to the appropriate destination.

What are the business limitations of IVR? ›

It Can Lead Customers to Abandon Your Business

In some instances, IVR can elicit an even stronger reaction from customers. If an IVR system is particularly frustrating, significantly damaging a business's CX, it can even lead to the customer abandoning the business altogether.

How long does an IVR transfer take? ›

Callers can switch to agent-assisted payments from IVR self-service payments at any time. Usually, the process takes no more than five minutes from start to finish.

What is IVR customer experience? ›

Interactive voice response (IVR) is telephony software technology commonly found in call centers. IVR allows businesses to interact with callers through a series of automated menus, often enabling the customer to self-serve for faster resolution.

What are IVR ports? ›

IVR (Interactive Voice Response) Ports are telephony objects uniquely identified by the numbers within IVRs at which telephone calls may reside and be handled. When you register a new IVR in the Configuration Database, an IVR Ports folder under this IVR is automatically created.

How do you deal with high call volume? ›

9 Ways to Manage High Call Volume
  1. Implement Self-Service Resources. ...
  2. Adopt an Online Chat Tool. ...
  3. Present a Call Back as An Option. ...
  4. Schedule Employees Strategically. ...
  5. Be Upfront With Customers. ...
  6. Use an Online Scheduling Platform. ...
  7. Outsource Your Call Center. ...
  8. Hire More Staff.

What are IVR applications? ›

An IVR application provides prerecorded voice responses for appropriate situations, keypad signal logic, access to relevant data and, potentially, the ability to record voice input for later use.

Can we automate IVR? ›

There are several automation tools available which impersonate the human effort to dial an IVR specific telephone number and can provide DTMF inputs to the IVR system. Nowadays large companies are using an automation tool to test their IVR application.

Why is IVR important? ›

IVR significantly increases first contact resolution because callers are always directed to the agent or department that is most capable of meeting their needs. The agent who receives the call will be more qualified to answer the caller's question and will be less likely to transfer the call to another agent.

What is an IVR menu? ›

What is IVR menu? The IVR menu is the response system that helps customers navigate the IVR experience. It can be used by the caller by pressing the touch-tone dialpad or via their voice, whichever one is programmed into the IVR. You've probably encountered it a million times.

Do customers like IVRS? ›

Statistically speaking, your customers hate IVR—83% of them think it provides either no value at all or a cost-benefit for the company. With more and more people turning to mobile apps and other channels, one might think IVR systems must be going downhill.

How do I set up IVR RingCentral? ›

Add an IVR Menu
  1. Log in to the RingCentral Online account.
  2. Go to Admin Portal > Phone System > Auto-Receptionist > IVR Menus tab.
  3. Click New IVR Menu.
  4. Enter the Extension Number and Extension Name.
  5. Click Save. You will be redirected to the IVR Menus page.
28 Jul 2022

How do you ask for a call back? ›

Now, I'll share some expressions that you can use to ask someone to call you.
  1. Please call me when you are free.
  2. If you can manage time, can you call me tonight?
  3. Call me later, please.
  4. Don't forget to call me please, it's urgent.
  5. If you are available this weekend, please call me. ...
  6. Hey! ...
  7. Call me as soon as possible.
19 Jan 2022

How can I record my IVR for free? ›

To create a Cloud IVR menu sign into the Sonetel web app and move to the Voice apps section.
...
Options when creating a new message
  1. Upload audio file. Upload WAV files MP3 files etc.
  2. Text to speech. Type a text and have it converted to a recording in the language of choice, using Text-to-speech.
  3. Record.

What do customers want from an IVR? ›

An IVR with speech recognition allows customers to speak instead of pressing buttons to access information or complete transactions. This more natural process allows customers to quickly navigate through the IVR and provides a more human approach to the customer experience, without actually talking to a live agent.

Who has the best IVR system? ›

Best IVR systems:
Our RankSoftware NameMinimum Price
1.RingCentral$19.99 /mo.
2.CallShaperQuote only.
3.Chase Data$89.00 /mo.
4.IVR Studio$799.00 for licence
10 more rows
29 Mar 2022

How do I convert my mobile number to IVR? ›

How can One Install an IVR Service to a Mobile Number?
  1. 4 easy steps to install an IVR service to a mobile number-
  2. Step.1 Get your service package- The first and initial step is to choose the IVR service package. ...
  3. Step. 2 Choose your desired mobile number- ...
  4. Step. 3 Service activation- ...
  5. Step. 4 Service finalization-
20 May 2021

What is inbound IVR? ›

Inbound IVR (Interactive Voice Response) processes calls placed by a user into a phone system. These calls are typically 800 numbers (or equivalents), although they could also be regular local or long distance calls.

How is IVR system implemented? ›

IVR Design - Create a design specification of the application. IVR Development - Organize a development team and assign tasks. IVR Programming - Perform actual coding of the IVR application. IVR Testing - Test the IVR application prior to going live.

What does IVR account number mean? ›

Interactive voice response (IVR) is a telephone payment system. It allows consumers to make an automated payment over the phone without interacting with a live person. IVR payment services add value and build revenue for your business – all without hiring any additional staff members.

How does IVR work PPT? ›

Interactive voice response (IVR) is a technology that allows a computer to interact with humans through the use of voice and DTMF tones input via keypad. Interactive voice response (IVR) is a technology that allows a computer to interact with humans through the use of voice and DTMF tones input via keypad.

What is IVR completion rate? ›

Definition. Measures the rate at which calls entered in the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system are completed within the IVR.

When was IVR invented? ›

This article is part of a larger series on VoIP. The history of interactive voice response (IVR) systems started in the 1930s when the Voder machine was created. This technology was the first to analyze the English language and produce human-like audio.

Why do most organizations force their customers to experience a menu based IVR system? ›

Why do most organizations force customers to experience a menu-based IVR system? Most organizations use IVR menus because it leaves little room for error when transferring calls.

What is IVR in PBX? ›

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is an automated answering system allowing inbound callers to select their preferences before being connected to a contact center agent.

What is dynamic IVR? ›

What is a Dynamic IVR. A dynamic IVR system is one that changes the call flow based on explicit or implicit context provided by the caller.

What is IVR OTP? ›

IVR One Time Password (OTP)

Interactive Voice Response i.e. IVR transactions are transactions that you carry out over the telephone where you provide your Credit Card number on an automated system to make a payment to a vendor for purchase of goods, services etc. e.g Account recharge on TATA SKY helpline.

What is CTI in call center? ›

Computer telephony integration (CTI) means linking a call center's telephone systems to their business applications, typically so that their business software can have more control over call management.

What is IVR time? ›

IVR technology eliminates wait times by responding to a caller immediately. 24/7 service. IVR technology can operate without any interruptions and is available to provide information to callers whenever they need it.

What are the business limitations of IVR? ›

It Can Lead Customers to Abandon Your Business

In some instances, IVR can elicit an even stronger reaction from customers. If an IVR system is particularly frustrating, significantly damaging a business's CX, it can even lead to the customer abandoning the business altogether.

What are key features of IVR? ›

Key IVR Features
  • Information Provider. Upon calling a system, an IVR menu can be used to provide a caller with extremely useful information. ...
  • Call Filter. ...
  • Identification. ...
  • Call Queuing & Callback Automation. ...
  • Voice Recognition. ...
  • Call Recordings. ...
  • CRM/IVR System Integration. ...
  • Self Service Actions.
26 Mar 2022

What is smart IVR? ›

A Smart IVR is an enhanced Interactive Voice Response system. It allows companies to streamline their communication by intelligently routing and managing inbound calls. Also, it helps companies reduce unnecessary steps that paid employees usually handle.

What is IVR call flow? ›

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a system of automated call flows that lets customers select what they need from a menu of options, collects any needed information from them, and then routes their calls to the appropriate destination.

What is the types of IVR? ›

The two basic types of IVR services are inbound and outbound. Inbound IVR systems handle incoming call volume, while outbound IVR systems make calls on either a total or partially automated dialing basis.

Why is IVR important? ›

IVR significantly increases first contact resolution because callers are always directed to the agent or department that is most capable of meeting their needs. The agent who receives the call will be more qualified to answer the caller's question and will be less likely to transfer the call to another agent.

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