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Is Your IVR Working For You?

Millennials have a reputation for sharing their customer service experiences through social media.

I happen to be a Millennial, and it’s true. I can think of many situations in which I’ve taken to Twitter or Facebook to either share positive feedback, reach out to a brand directly in hopes of quickly resolving a situation, or voice a complaint.

Just this week I found myself in one such situation. I had a scheduled service appointment for a local internet and phone provider to come install a new phone line and faster internet for my home office. They gave me a window of time in which to expect them, and that window quickly came and went without any service.

Unfortunately, I was not surprised. The process of setting up the appointment had been daunting, to say the least. After multiple (at least five) phone calls, many of which never resulted in speaking to a live agent, the company still couldn’t get my order correct. Evidently, they had no record of my address in the system, but I couldn’t seem to get through the right person who could help. I just kept getting bounced around from department to department. It was not a positive IVR experience for me.

If my dealings with the company hadn’t already been so frustrating, I might have been a little more forgiving, but when my service technician was more than an hour late to my appointment, it was the last straw for me. Naturally, I went to Twitter to voice my frustration. 

In this age of social media, customer expectations are higher than ever, and every point of contact makes up a part of the overall customer experience. Joe Alwan addressed this very topic in his Speaker of the Week post this week. His article, Stop Ignoring your IVR, is definitely worth a read.

Joe will be speaking at ACCE this year and I hope you can check out his sessions on IVR and Analytics. But, whether or not you’re attending ACCE, here’s an opportunity to get to know Joe a little better.

Joe and his dog Abbey

ICMI: What excites you most about presenting at ACCE this year?

Joe: I believe that the growing focus on the customer is having a transformative effect on contact centers and our industry. It’s not just cost and compliance and scheduling anymore, as evidenced by the
amount of energy being spent on customer satisfaction, willingness-to-recommend, and customer effort. At AVOKE, we’re helping companies discover something that manufacturers learned long
ago – that doing it right the first time is actually cheaper! The same is true in the contact center – if you focus on delivering great service, you’ll also get lower costs. I’m very excited about what our
industry can do if we stay on this path of using customer focused data and insights to drive our businesses. And about the difference we can make by starting with the customer’s first step in their
journey – interacting with your IVR.

ICMI: What quirky customer service fact would you like our ICMI community to know about you?

Joe: My first 2 jobs were in customer service! I got an electrical engineering degree, but rejected my professor’s advice to go design the next great microprocessor. Instead, I went to work for HP in a
call center supporting repair technicians around the world. My next job was in another HP call center, answering questions for sales reps selling HP computers. I still use what I learned in engineering
every day – which is really about understanding complex processes and knowing how to tackle difficult problems. But, I just enjoy the interface between a company and its’ customers too much to do
any other kind of work.

ICMI: What is the one takeaway you hope to give your audience?

Joe: My session at ACCE this year is about part of the contact process that is too frequently ignored and has a huge impact on customer satisfaction and contact center costs. And that is the IVR. The one thing
I hope people remember is that the fastest way to reduce agent-handled call volume and talk time in most centers is to get your IVR better aligned with your business processes. On average, companies
can reduce agent-handled call volume by 15% just by re-thinking their IVR strategy and optimizing it with real customer insights.

ICMI: What is the one question YOU hope to get an answer to while at ACCE?

Joe: How has our industry failed so miserably in making IVRs into helpful partners to deliver great service? Somehow we’ve managed to teach customers to hate IVR systems! Would your company keep a receptionist that treated people so badly that they hated coming to your office? We can’t throw out the IVR - that would cost too much in additional staffing. So, where did we go wrong? And what can
we do about it?

ICMI: What is the best customer experience you’ve had where you’ve been on the customer side?

Joe: I had a great experience with TIAA-CREF recently. They sent me a huge package of materials about an account change that I needed to make. The package was nearly incomprehensible because of the sheer volume of information and material. I felt like I had several hours ahead of me to read and re-read the cover letter to make sense of it – and then to wade through all the forms that were included. Fortunately, the representative had his name and phone number at the bottom of the letter. So, I called. In a few short minutes, he asked several questions to understand what I wanted to do with the account. Then he told me which 2 forms I needed, and that I could throw the rest of the package out. That alone was a huge relief. Then he stayed on the phone and walked me through the 2 forms as I filled them out. Can’t imagine how much time he saved me!

Stay tuned as we feature more speakers between now and ACCE!