How IVR Dictates the Customer Experience and Your Bottom Line

Automated voice systems have always been good at saving organizations money. Unfortunately, they’ve also been good at annoying customers. We’ve all seen the commercials with the guy yelling “Big Boy!” into his phone.

Recently, though, interactive voice response (IVR) has become a real tool for improving the customer experience (i.e., they work, and they work well without sounding like a robot). These days, customers are benefitting as much as organizations are from automated voice applications.

Modern IVR

It’s all about self-service. It didn’t used to be—it used to be about companies saving money on customer service calls. But today it’s about enabling the customer to get information.

Automation, just like the internet, is open 24 hours. Customers can get the information they want, when they want it and wherever they are. That makes them happy. It’s the main point of automated self-service, from a customer perspective—to find information.

Of course, jumping through a few hoops has always been part of the process. For one, you have to navigate a menu, and depending on how well done and comprehensive the menu is, that can be a trick.

Making the entire process easier is where IVR technology is heading. Have you noticed how systems seem to know more about you than they used to? Data integration keeps modern systems and their live-agent counterparts more informed on customers. Which, in turn, yields a more personal customer experience.

Example: a customer doesn’t have to repeatedly enter in payment information because the application remembers it. Another example: a system remembers a customer’s history and automatically moves frequently chosen options to the top of the menu, so the customer is through their call faster.

The Customer Experience

It’s very simple. If a customer doesn’t enjoy their automated experience, they’ll transfer to a live agent, which is more expensive for your organization. It’s a lose-lose.

From the customer’s perspective, it was undoubtedly an unpleasant experience if they transferred to a live agent. At the very least, they got annoyed for a couple seconds. Not acceptable.

Especially when you consider that modern IVR systems have analytics tools that compile information on things like which options customers choose most often and where they’re transferring or hanging up—so designers can optimize their application. So, there’s really no excuse for an app that provides a bad customer experience.

Your Bottom Line

From the organization’s perspective, transfers to live agents or hang-ups with callbacks—anything that lengthens a call or forces repeat calls—raise overall customer service costs. Not only are you providing a bad customer experience, you’re spending more money to do it.

Companies in the prepaid card industry, for example, receive a high volume of calls in the course of regular business. Customers call in repeatedly to register and activate their cards, check balances, add money and other tasks. If a company’s IVR isn’t user-friendly and efficient, it won’t keep callers within the system, and costs per call will go up.

In many industries today, actually, the customers experience has become a differentiator. And it’s especially so for companies in high-growth, high-competition industries such as the prepaid card industry. Providing excellent customer service is a must.

Towards that end, IVR systems also provide a good opportunity for getting feedback from customers, as many include survey features. If the survey request comes right as they’re transferring out of frustration, they may not agree to take it. On the other hand, if they do agree they’ll probably be in the right mood to provide some definitive feedback on your system’s shortcomings (to put it mildly).

It’s Simple


A customer has a bad experience with your automated voice system and either hangs up and calls back or transfers to a live agent. Either way, they’re unhappy and you lose money.


A customer stays within an automated system to complete their task or transaction. They’re happy and you save money.

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