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Automatically Frustrated: Research Reveals Why Consumers Are Unhappy With IVR

A recent study conducted by Liel Leibovitz, Assistant Professor of Communications at New York University, has concluded that consumers find Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems to be frustrating and difficult to use.

This information may not come as a surprise. Though IVR technology has developed and improved over the years, Interactions Corporation was inspired to commission Leibovitz to administer this study based on their observations of previous industry research and general consumer opinion that alluded to the dissatisfaction with the self-service tool.

Conducted over a three-month period in early 2011, the consumer study consisted of two parts: an online questionnaire and a series of in-person interviews. In the first part, 408 respondents completed an 11-question survey about general attitudes towards IVRs and other service options. In the second part, an additional 21 respondents were interviewed in person and in depth to provide greater insight regarding these customer service options.

Self Service Leads to Automatic Frustration

When asked to select which service method they preferred to interact with (selecting more than one method was acceptable), an astounding 66.8% of customers chose "Talk to a customer service representative".  As for the other service options, 23.4% preferred to use the company’s website, 18.5% selected interactive web chat and only 15.7% chose the IVR.

The research concluded that most consumers find IVR systems difficult to use. On the online questionnaire’s ease-of-use scale, consumers rated IVR systems lower than any of the other service options, including CSR, chat and web.

Room for Improvement

As a self-service tool, Interactive Voice Recognition Systems remain a cost-effective solution for many call centers worldwide. Though the global IVR market continues to grow, the results of this study suggests that a vast majority (about 83%) of consumers feel that IVR systems provide either no benefit at all or only a cost savings benefit to the company.

According to Interactions CEO Mike Iacobucci, many companies are actively seeking better self-service solutions for their customers. Iacobucci comments, "There is a significant, measurable experience gap between a customer service agent and IVR. If IVR is going to remain relevant, this gap must be narrowed."

Christina Hammarberg is the former associate editor at ICMI.