Despite being around for over half a century, telephone IVR systems are still a major source of frustration for many customers around the world every day. Overly complex telephone menus and automated telephone systems are turning call centres into ‘stall-centres’ for many people, frustrated by constantly being put on hold and feeling bewildered by an endless array of options, according to new research by Eckoh, a global provider of customer service solutions.
The average customer trying to contact a utilities or service provider will have to work their way through four layers of menu options before being able to speak to a telephone operator. In the most extreme case, customers calling one retailer’s technical support line were forced to potentially navigate 107 menu options before getting through to a human being. The average consumer spent 17 minutes navigating the menu and queuing for help in their most recent call.
Tony Porter, Global Head of Communications at Eckoh said, “customers have had enough of sitting through endless menu options to be able to speak to an agent. Companies have to realise that they can’t continue to waste their customers’ time any more. For too long, businesses have been interested in improving efficiency for themselves, without considering how efficient things are for their customers. Investing in customer service systems based on well designed IVR technology that put the customer first, is essential for a business to succeed today.”
Visits to a random sample of the websites of 50 customer-facing brands found that fewer than half have contact numbers displayed on their ‘contact us’ page. Of the five telecoms companies visited, none offered a contact number on the page.
Tony Porter added, “consumers want the ease of a phone number, especially if they have exhausted other means of trying to resolve their issue. It’s extraordinary that such a high percentage of brands visited in our mystery shopping exercise didn’t have a number on display. It suggests that they don’t want you to call their contact centres. The assumption is that they are not properly designed for the needs of 21st century consumers.”