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Are Automated Phone Systems Voice Jail? Interactions Corporation's New Research Reveals Key Findings

August 15, 2012

Each customer interaction is an opportunity to enhance that customer’s perception of a company. Traditional automated self-service systems have their own pros and cons. In this regard, Interactions Corporation, a technology company, revealed a new survey at the annual speech technology conference which indicates that the dissatisfaction with the automated phone systems has prompted consumers to take their business elsewhere.

“Consumers have become unbelievably frustrated with automated phone systems,” said Mike Iacobucci, chief executive officer at Interactions Corporation.

“Corporations have long believed that consumers will put up with difficult automated phone systems, but that's no longer true," noting that 66 percent said IVRs and even live representatives have gotten worse, or have not improved, over the past 10 years. Consumers are abandoning companies that put them into “voicejail,” Iacobucci added.

Interactions’ research was conducted by Liel Leibovitz, assistant professor of communications at New York University. More than 2,100 adult Americans were surveyed between March and May 2012 using a quota sampling technique. Leibovitz will present results with Phil Gray, executive VP of Interactions Corporation Marketing and Business Development, at SpeechTEK (News - Alert) 2012, the annual speech technology business exhibition on Aug. 13-15 in New York City.

Interactions’ nationwide poll indicated that more than eight in 10 consumers – around 83 percent – said they will avoid a company or stop giving it business after a poor experience with an automated phone system/interactive voice response (IVR).

According to the survey, more than 70 percent of consumers said they will share their negative IVR experience not just with the company itself, but with friends and family – as well as the world at large – through word of mouth, social media and blogs.

Of all available customer service methods, the most popular method, the customer service representative bagged 67 percent of the vote. When a live body wasn't available, 23 percent consumers said their next preference was website-based customer support and then live chat with a customer service representative 18 percent.

Only 16 percent chose IVR as the preferred option.

"People have had such poor IVR experiences, they prefer not to use them to resolve their problems," noted Iacobucci, who said that while much progress has been made in customer self-service through new mobile applications, an increase in website chat deployments and social media, nearly 74 percent of consumers said it's important for any company they do business to have an excellent IVR.

That finding is made all the more important by the fact that the often difficult IVR channel is still the main way by which consumers reach their preferred option of a live agent.

Interactions' patented technology provides an array of tangible benefits for businesses looking to truly understand their customers' needs and requests, and represents a viable alternative to the traditional IVR systems.

Interestingly, another TMC (News - Alert) report indicated automation in the call center can seem like a frightening endeavor, especially after years of industry stigma and callers voicing that they just want to talk to a live person. But voice automation can actually be a powerful tool, especially in revenue-oriented call centers.


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Edited by Braden Becker

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