Bad IVR makes for Angry Customer

Four Simple Ways to Annoy Your Callers

Yesterday, the Indosoft blog posted an article on how to turn your call center ACD into a time machine. It listed ten things you can do to make sure time passes as easily as possible for your callers. When it was being written, I thought it was a comprehensive look at the biggest issues you can face when settting up your IVR.

Then I called my cell phone provider.

Last week, I received a new phone in the mail. It came with a new SIM, and instructions on how to go to the web site and register it.

I went to the website. I logged in with my account information. And I was greeted with the message that this function could not be performed on the web site. I would have to call technical support.

I called the number.

I was amazed.

I was not prepared for the level of awful that I encountered.

It started out innocently enough. “Welcome to PROVIDER. If you want English, press or say 1.”

I pressed 1.

“If you  are an existing customer, press or say 1.”

I pressed 1.

“You have 6 options to choose from … (pause).” Okay…

“You have 6 options to choose from … (pause).” Great! What are they?

“You have 6 options to choose from … (pause).” Are you going to tell me?

“You have 5 options to choose from …” What? Which option did I lose? What are they? Am I supposed to guess?

“You have 5 options to choose from … (pause).” Hmmm…

“You have 5 options to choose from … (pause).” …

“Your wait time is about 55 minutes … (pause).”

“<three and a half minutes of static>”

I recognized the three and a half minutes of static as a bad playback of music on hold. Then Shania Twain sang me one of her hits. Then more static.

Since I didn’t know who I was waiting for, whether they could help me, or if I’d be sent back into another queue to wait for 55 minutes, I hung up. After all, I could just swap my old SIM from my old phone into the new one. I wasn’t going to be using two phones at the same time. I tried calling in again, but got the same result.

I did leave a message on the website describing what happened on the call, just in case they were interested. Annoyingly, I was asked to submit information about my account even though I was logged in to my account on the web page.

Anyway, as promised, here are four things they did to annoy their callers:

1) They probably just had their PBX “background” playback of the file so that callers can input their choice without having to wait.

That’s good. That’s helpful.

But, they set the timeout to be shorter than the amount of time it takes to play the audio file. That’s the window in which you can enter your option. If you’ve got a long audio file that lists your options after the 10 second mark, you have to give people more than 10 seconds to choose. Otherwise, they are not going to hear what the choices are.
It’s an easy logic error to make.

2) Their music on hold is terrible. It could be that they didn’t encode the audio files to match the codec used on the call. It could be that the server was under too much load. Or the file got corrupted during transfer. Or they use a patent-encumbered encoding somewhere (g729, mp3) and ran out of licenses due to the call volume.

3) They didn’t have somebody come in and listen to their IVR, especially at peak periods. Something like that should be pretty obvious if whoever is managing their system calls into the IVR from time to time. I doubt I hit the one magical time that this happened.

4) Not having an enterprise-grade call center ACD system installed. If the problems were caused by high load on the system, the problem could have been solved by having:

* multiple telephony servers,

* load balancing,

* and providing enough licenses for all the possible calls.

Q-Suite scales easily, allowing you to add capacity by adding servers. And it allows you to bring up and down resources if you’re leveraging the power of the Cloud in your contact center. And if you’re running Q-Suite, I won’t have to write blog posts about your awful IVR mistakes.