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IVR horror costs businesses £130 per customer each year, research reveals

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Remember IVR? Well, it is still going strong – and still causing problems. In fact, 54% of consumers believe that reaching an interactive voice menu when calling a business makes for a poor customer experience, leading more than half to abandon the company altogether.

Vonage, a global business cloud communications leader, has published new research that reveals that more than half (51%) of consumers have abandoned a business altogether because they’ve reached an automated menu of options, known as Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – losing that company £130 per customer every year.

The 2019 Vonage IVR survey, which was based on independent research among 2,009 survey respondents from the United Kingdom, found that of those customers who ditched a business as a result of reaching an IVR menu, 74% of the money they would have spent, was then spent with a competitor.

Significantly, when the figure for those abandoning businesses is broken down by age group, more than a third of millennials (aged 25-34) have done so more than once in the past year, compared with only a quarter of over 45s. Meanwhile only a fifth of those over 55 have abandoned a business more than once, suggesting that younger generations are less patient of poorly designed systems that create delays than their older counterparts.

Per the survey, 54% of consumers feel that IVR technology makes for a poor customer experience, while just 15% believe it makes for a positive one. And, on average, consumers abandoned 22% of calls they made to businesses in the last year because they reached an IVR, with 81% terminating at least one call.

The 2019 IVR survey findings are consistent with Vonage’s 2018 Serial Switchers’ study, which revealed that nearly half of UK consumers ditched a business over the previous year following poor customer service.

Many businesses use an IVR to connect with callers, yet 54% of respondents described having negative feelings such as frustration (37%) and stress (10%), when presented with one. Fourteen percent reported ‘no particular emotion’, with only a small percentage feeling hopeful and positive (8 and 6 percent respectfully).

According to the survey, top things customers disliked include: being forced to listen to irrelevant options (45%), the reason for calling might not be listed (43%), the menus are usually too long (37%), it wastes time, and the IVR keeps callers from reaching a live person (35% respectively).

Having navigated an IVR and reached a customer service agent, consumers reported feeling

less happy (19%), less pleased (18%) and less positive (18%) than when they first initiated the call.

“Technology is important, of course – but to connect people, not to keep them apart”, comments Ken McMahon, Senior Vice President, Customer Success at Vonage. “Customer experience is the one area companies can differentiate and compete in an increasingly commoditised world, and with solutions like Dynamic Routing, which enables customers to reach the most appropriate agent for their call, every time, there’s a path to great CX that’s waiting for smart companies to take.”

For more information, download Vonage’s research summary (LINK) and free guide: ‘How to end IVR horrors – 3 strategies to deliver a connected customer experience.’

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