As a customer I hate them . . . and as a consultant I hate them. The IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system that you have to call and usually guess what to say or which button to push to speak to a person. The questions are usually asked about your account number, number of visits (Disney), phone number, etc., and after answering these questions you are asked to repeat them again when you talk to an agent. If you hit the wrong button, back into the queue you go and typically with another 8 – 12 minute wait. The IVR “choices” are not always the way I would communicate my order or problem and I find myself guessing whether what I said or pushed was “correct” and I am occasionally chastised for being so . . . ignorant. Or sometimes the agent will tell me no one ever really “figures it out.” I am not sure that makes me feel better.
Organizations that try to break calls down into pieces mostly find themselves with a significant number of lost or mis-routed calls. Working to standards (method, procedures, scripts or work volumes) usually increases costs. That business improvement and business cost reduction exercise winds up increasing costs and creating a poor customer experience . . . a management paradox. This problem becomes worse when people are removed from the call center in anticipation of “efficiencies.”
The current design of most call centers does not allow for value to be pulled by the customer. Straight talk: The poor service and inefficiencies (waste) are caused by the way call centers are designed and managed.
Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public). He is focused on exposing the problems of command and control management and terminating bad service through application of new thinking . . . systems thinking. Download Understanding Your Organization as a System and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can Twitter him at “TriBabbitt.”