A cheesy story debating a dry topic…do bad technologies taint our service experience?

  November 15, 2013       Martin Taylor

We asked our contact centre expert – Martin Taylor what he thought of IVRs in the customer service environment. Here’s what he had to say…

“I don’t like cheese. In fact, I hate cheese.

Not strictly true but I’ll come back to this later. The point is that I was having a conversation with a colleague the other day about how much they hate IVRs – press 1 for this, 2 for that etc… they stated vehemently that it represented a real turn off for them.
Back to the cheese for a moment. I hate cheese as a result as of one childhood experience, a bumpy, frankly sickly journey following a family picnic on the shores of Loch Ness where the main staple was high quality Kraft Cheese Singles sandwiches’ – please don’t think badly of my parents – Cheese Singles were very popular at the time.

Actually, the mere mention by me that I hate cheese seems to illicit two interesting responses from friends, restaurant staff and my wife. Firstly, how do you know you hate all cheese – it’s like saying that you hate all meat (and they have a point) and secondly, try this dish, you won’t even taste the cheese which I frankly don’t understand – why put it in if you can’t taste it?

The fact of the matter is that these days, I eat pizza, cheesecake and various other cheese based products and dishes.

As the conversation continued – regarding IVR, not cheese – it transpired that actually, not all flavours of IVR ruffled my colleague’s feathers in the same way. It appears to be a perception and experience of bad IVR, not IVR at all that can threaten to dislodge the already stretched customer loyalty conundrum. So what ‘flavours’ ruffle the feathers of my colleague, not to mention 1000’s of other customers who, when surveyed, consistently rank IVR as the #1 on their list of call centre ‘hates’? Truth is, I don’t know exactly what flavour but I would hazard a guess towards bad deployments – the ones that don’t add any value to the customer.

Let me expand; in the distant past, way before the huge uptake of on-line shopping, some of my colleagues designed and deployed a highly complex IVR at a leading high street store allowing their customers to contact at any time of the day and – through an IVR – check stock levels and order an item to be delivered to their chosen store the next day. You could contact them at 3am if you wished, chase down the ‘must have’ Christmas toy and have it delivered the very next day just 2 minutes from your office…brilliant, hugely customer focussed and hugely beneficial.

From the other end of the scale, I recently worked with an organisation who operated their customer service operation across a complex multi-outsourced network whose IVR, I’m pretty sure, would have been precisely the bitter flavour that my colleague would have hated – over complicated, no obvious customer value and difficult to navigate. It appears that the focus of the first was born from the need to fix a customer frustration and improve their offer, the second was born from an organisational need and had been deployed and left un-reviewed since.

IVR does not stand alone as the ‘Marmite’ of customer service applications. There are many that serve to be a turn off and frustration to the customer and the advisor alike however, I would suggest that it is not ‘bad’ technologies – although there are a few – but it’s how they serve or fail to serve and add value to the customer experience that is the key.

We can help you to re-assess your ‘cheeseboard’ of service applications and ensure that they all deliver what they were supposed to deliver when first deployed and that is to either serve your customers or help someone who is serving your customers.

Our Salesforce Service Cloud experts can also help you evaluate whether you have the right technologies embedded to deliver highest standard of customer service.”

Blog posted by Martin Taylor. – Contact centre specialist.