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Breaking Through

Breaking through the IVR Experience Barrier

CenturionCARES is not a well-known Fortune 500 company, so any mention of my employment here is invariably followed by “Oh…and what do they do?” As I start to describe the software we design for call center environments I can almost count on an equally consistent reply; “You mean the Press 1 for English stuff? God, I hate that!”

Having long ago gotten over taking any personal offense for being linked to such dastardly business, I finally realized what I was actually hearing. It wasn’t so much the IVR that people hated – in fact most people weren’t really aware of what an IVR is (Interactive Voice Response, but of course, you already knew that). Rather, it was the communication barrier that the IVR created that people despised. They had picked up their phone with the good intention of communicating or receiving information, and the wicked IVR was an almost insurmountable gatekeeper that was preventing them from completing their task. It prompted them to open one door only to find themselves behind another, pushing another button, and repeating the process without any clear indication whether they were actually moving forward, backwards, or sideways. Nothing grinds your gears like the feeling that you aren’t being recognized, that your voice isn’t being heard. I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t been similarly frustrated at some point.

There is good news however. Today’s smart service providers recognize the importance of customer engagement and are seeking ways to enhance communications rather than hinder them. To meet those demands, yesterday’s humble IVR has evolved from an irritating barrier into an intelligent portal, delivering desired information, important announcements, and ultimately, enhanced customer experiences. With intuitive menu options and dynamic routing options, advanced IVR systems provide the flexibility and functionality to suit just about any business requirements you might have. Callers can now count on quickly finding the information they need, or at least having the satisfaction of knowing they are progressing along the best route. Where IVR encounters previously elicited universally negative impulses, it is now actually preferred over live agent interaction by a majority of callers.

If preconceived notions have prevented you from making IVR a part of your customer engagement strategy, it may be time to take a fresh look. Breaking down the communications barrier and enabling customer engagement on their terms is the right call, no matter which number you press.

About the Author

Bob Brotzman is the Director, Marketing Communications for CenturionCARES. When he is not developing content for CenturionCARES’ various marketing channels, he is usually found helping colleagues reach their potential by sharing unsolicited hair style critiques, quasi-inspirational thoughts-of-the-day, and generally factual historical recollections.

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