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IVRs, Robocalls, and Phone Menus Aren't For Customer Service

By Elyse Desmarais on April 12, 2016

Customer Service Mishaps

Customer Service is something many companies struggle to perfect. And, unfortunately, poor Customer Service leaves customers angry, upset, and their problems unresolved. Even worse, customers may resort to publicly outing companies on Social Media for poor service, potentially ruining a business’ reputation. So what are companies doing wrong when it comes to dealing with customers and how can they start doing it right?

Interactive Voice Response Technologies

Interactive Voice Response technologies, or IVRs, are a popular method of Customer Service used by many businesses. Unfortunately, many customers find this method unhelpful, with most wishing to speak with a real person.

A recent survey that sampled 1,321 respondents, conducted 50 in-depth follow-up interviews, and three focus groups found the following results when it comes to consumers and Customer Service:

  • 90% of respondents want to speak to a live agent at the beginning of the Customer Service experience

  • No matter how a customer service journey starts, by the end 83% finally reach a real person

Of those customers who used IVRs,

  • Only 10 percent were satisfied with their experience

  • Approximately 35 percent of respondents found the systems difficult to use

  • Only 3% actually liked using the IVR service

What About Other Modes Of Automated Customer Service?

In general, opinions of other modes of automated Customer Service vary from great to awful depending on the context. 19% of customers rated virtual assistants, such as Siri, “miserable” with an overall ranking just above unsatisfactory. Despite this, virtual assistants are actually becoming more common, which causes one to wonder if businesses are actually listening to and soliciting feedback on this type of Customer Service.

Customers positively receive email or instant messaging style communications, with these methods ranking just behind in-person or over the phone service with a real person. According to the survey,

“Respondents told us they’re confident a real person will ‘see it through’ and they feel more assured that “the call won’t just end” without some sort of resolution.”

In terms of trust, Social Media and Virtual Assistants were trusted least by customers. 35% and 29%, respectively, reported “having no faith” in these mediums.

What Do Customers Dislike About Automated Customer Service?

Survey respondents noted the following problems when dealing with IVRs and other automated Customer Service methods:

  • Customers must repeat themselves when using IVRs and phone menus

  • Customers can’t adequately explain problems over IVRs

  • IVRs force customers to listen to irrelevant options

  • IVRs present choices that lead nowhere

  • IVRs have too many menu options

  • IVR prompts are too long

IVRs are also found to potentially provoke fear of selecting the wrong menu option, anger and frustration with the system, and an “overwhelming sense of stress” in customers.

How Should Businesses Handle Automation In Customer Service?

Businesses don’t need to abandon automation in Customer Service to ease frustrations and offer better service, they just need to do it better. While phone menus, IVRs, and robocalls just won’t do for today’s consumers, there are alternative methods that offer more efficiency and a better customer experience.

While in-person communication remains the most favorable form of Customer Service, automated live-chat or instant messaging also ranks highly in the eyes of consumers. Many customers said they resort to live-chats when on hold with phone support or interacting with an IVR.

Automated text-messaging mimics the style of Customer Service live-chats offer, but in a more convenient medium for consumers. Instant Census’ text message automation platform allows business to interact with customers in seconds via SMS messaging on any mobile phone, meaning there is no need for an app. Customers also interact with Instant Census as if they were holding a conversation with a real person, making it a conversation rather than a question and answer session.

While businesses can stick to an automated script for handling Customer Service inquiries, Instant Census offers users the ability to send individual, personalized messages from the platform directly to customers. Instant Census makes it possible for businesses to remotely engage in real conversations with customers without sticking to just yes or no, multiple choice or scripted questions. This allows businesses to interact with customers on a personal level and create the unique conversations customers crave that are not possible through other automated tools.

Looking for a better way to automate your Customer Service process? Get in touch today!

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