Is Your IVR System Misbehaving? Here’s How to Tame It

3rd May 2019

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Many businesses have implemented IVR solutions in a bid to improve customer service.

And this often leads to great results. A good IVR solution can reduce call handling times, increase customer satisfaction, give you complete inbound call management and make is easy to answer 100 percent of calls.

But, unfortunately, a poorly set up IVR system can have more detrimental effects – with the very worst putting customers off contacting you.

In this article, we’re going to look at some of the most common ways IVR systems misbehave and give you some tips for how to address them.

how to fix common IVR issues


Avoid Frustration with a Well-Designed Menu

IVR is designed to help callers reach a satisfactory resolution in the quickest possible way, while simultaneously allowing businesses to reduce time spent answering calls and redirecting calls. When it works, it really works.

However, a poorly-designed IVR menu options can leave stranded in no man’s land. With IVR, less is often more. And, although an efficient, streamlined IVR process is often welcomed by callers looking to find a resolution quickly, they can quickly become frustrated if they find themselves up against a poorly-designed menu.

To create a good IVR menu:

  • Never have more than five options per menu – Your IVR system shouldn’t be a memory test. If you overface callers with too many options, you create unnecessary complexity and may end up putting callers off.
  • Implement a catch-all option –The world is unpredictable. That means some callers’ needs won’t neatly fit into your menu options. To avoid these people getting stuck in no man’s land, create a catch-all option and introduce it as the final option.
  • List options by popularity – If billing is your most called department, make sure they appear first on the list. In fact, list all options in order of popularity. This will reduce the overall amount of time callers spend on the line.
  • Don’t repeatedly direct callers to your website – Most customers know about your website. And they’ve chosen to call for a reason. The few that were unaware they may be able to use the website to resolve their issue will get the message the first time. So, please, don’t repeatedly direct callers to your website. This will only serve to irritate them.


Reduce Long Holding Times

The best customer interactions are seamless – and these days are often interactions in which the customer doesn’t have to speak to anyone. When customers pick up the phone, they’re often already disgruntled, which is why making them wait for a long time before being put through can be so incensing.

As such, your IVR system should be designed to keep holding times as short as possible. Additionally, when customers are on hold, their experience should be as pleasant as it can be.

To do this:

  • Ensure self-service options are primed – The higher the number of callers that can reach a resolution by themselves, the more time your agents will have to answer calls requiring human intervention. Optimising IVR self-service options may involve automating new processes, adding stock answers for generic enquiries and ensuring calls are routed as efficiently as possible. The specifics will depend on your business, but ensuring self-service options are primed will keep hold times down and improve agent performance.
  • Implement a callback option – A callback option can greatly reduce caller frustration and holding times by giving callers the option to receive a call at a time which is more convenient for your agents. Quick and easy to implement, introducing a callback option is a fantastic way to reduce hold times.
  • Optimise human resources – Your staff are your best resource. But you can make their job much easier by ensuring that they’re working process is maximally efficient. To do this, ensure that your have the right number of people to deal with your average call volume. Additionally, look for areas where holding times are higher and lower and amend staff priorities accordingly.
  • Avoid repetitive messaging – Repetition is annoying. By playing the same pre-recorded message to callers over again while they wait, you run the risk of further stressing them out. If you use pre-recorded hold messages, ensure they don’t play too frequently, use multiple messages and opt for professional voicing.
  • Use high-quality hold music – Hold music can make callers’ experiences much better. In fact, 73 percent of callers want to hear something other than silence or beeps when they’re on hold. Using high-quality hold music can fill this void and improve caller retention rates. Because people’s musical tastes differ quite dramatically, you should choose generic, inoffensive hold music. The most popular genres are classical, pop and Muzak. It’s wise to trial each and see which leads to the highest retention rate.


Use Professional Voicing

Voicing is incredibly important. The voice you choose for your IVR system says a lot about your company. By choosing the right voice, you can make a great impression on callers. However, using the wrong voice can reduce retention rates, irritate callers and damage your brand.

  • Avoid robotic voicing – Humans trust the natural voice. This means it’s important to avoid robotic, impersonal voicing. Building trust is important for any company, and natural-sounding IVR voicing goes a long way to greeting callers professionally and courteously. If you’re still using a robot voice, it may be time to move on.
  • Choose the right accent – The British people have strong feelings when it comes to accents. When asked which of the 12 main accents they felt were attractive or unattractive, British adults let the research company YouGov know – in no uncertain terms – how they felt. The most popular were Southern Irish, received pronunciation and Welsh. The least, Mancunian, Scouse and Brummie.
  • Go professional – No matter which accent you choose, it’s important your messaging is delivered professionally and legibly. The easiest way to ensure your IVR messaging is delivered properly is to use a professional service. Designed to reassure customers and guide them through your IVR system in the fastest and most intuitive way, a professional IVR voicing solutions can increase productivity, reduce call abandonment and free up agents. You will be able to choose voices from a comprehensive range of ages, genders and accents.


Are you looking to improve your IVR system? Elite Group is the UK’s leading unified communications provider and can provide your business with a high-quality IVR solution that will increase productivity, improve retention rates and keep callers happy.