Voice Technology

Voice Technology

5 Reasons Why it's Time to Ditch Your Dumb IVR

As Intuit cofounder Scott Cook once advised, “Instead of focusing on the competition, focus on the customer.” For most organizations with large customer service operations, this advice may not be revolutionary. However, it may surprise some to learn just how much customer experience can affect their bottom line. One in three customers say they would stop doing business with a brand they loved after just one bad experience—and 42% would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience.1


One of the biggest culprits of poor service is an outdated IVR channel. By and large, consumers don’t like interacting with traditional IVRs. Just look at these stats on the subject:2

  • 61% of consumers feel that IVR technology makes for a poor customer experience
  • Only 13% percent believe it (IVR) makes for a positive one (customer experience)


The cost effectiveness of an IVR compared to live agents is undeniable. However, companies can no longer afford to let poor customer experience (CX) from using IVR drive customers away. The question now becomes how to use an IVR to control support costs, while also providing an excellent customer experience.


Here are five important ways in which your current IVR is likely to disappoint your customers, along with strategies to transform your IVR into a customer service asset rather than a liability.


1. Traditional IVR doesn’t talk to other channels.

The issue: According to one survey, 52 % of Americans are frustrated at having to repeat themselves.3 This invariably drives customers away from your company or forces them to escalate to a more expensive channel where they’ll have to start over with a live agent. And that’s where the big problems begin.


You should make the context and details of your customers’ activity in the IVR channel available to other channels so you can provide a seamless, connected experience. By doing so, you’ll stop annoying virtually every customer who leaves the IVR in search of assisted service.


2. Traditional IVR isn’t visual or mobile friendly.

The issue: 50% of customers are on your website when they call your IVR.4 This is a strong indication that your customers want to self-serve, but also appreciate having a visual component to their customer service interaction. If what you provide instead is an outdated, confusing, audio only IVR, you’re introducing a level of customer frustration that’s hard to overcome.


The solution: Instead, look for a solution that pairs the visual experience with the voice experience, pushing rich, interactive content to an IVR caller’s smartphone or computer.


By doing so, you’ll be delivering a support experience that’s right in line with customer expectations. There are 3.5 billion smartphone users worldwide, so it’s no surprise that 69% of decision makers are citing self-service as a major part of their service strategy.5


A great way to make your IVR more mobile friendly is to offer callers the option to complete their journey online, by simply offering to send an SMS message that includes a link to a dynamic, interactive mobile web experience where they can complete their journey using the touch capabilities of their connected smartphone.


Here’s an example of how a visual and mobile-friendly IVR can look:

Mobile Friendly IVR


3. Traditional IVR is not web aware.

The issue: Recent research shows that 87% of customers start their journey in digital channels.6


The solution: To keep pace with today’s digital-first consumer, you need an IVR system that honors the fact that, by the time customers interact with your IVR, they are often far along in their customer service journeys.


Your IVR should be web-aware, meaning it should use the context from a customer’s web journey and detect if the customer is still on your website during the call. This enables greater personalization for callers in real time and makes channel-switching a nonissue along the journey, rather than a standout impediment.


4. Traditional IVR doesn’t understand what customers are saying.

The issue: Legacy IVR platforms leverage earlier-era voice recognition technology that only works well when customers say certain words in response to certain prompts. This causes customers to speak in very unnatural ways that slow the process down and creates frustration, and errors.


The solution: Today’s leading IVR platforms employ natural language technology processing (NLP) which interprets the natural everyday speaking language that customers use, and accurately derives the correct meaning from what customers are saying. This eliminates the frustration, making the call much easier for the customers and, ultimately, keeps more customers engaged with the IVR throughout the journey because abandonment due to speech recognition issues are a thing of the past.


5. Traditional IVR is just plain difficult to use.

The issue: With all these drawbacks, it should come as no surprise that in one study, 64 % of respondents described having negative feelings such as frustration when faced with an IVR.2


This customer frustration can arise at many points throughout the IVR interaction, such as during an overly complicated user authentication or while navigating confusing menu options. This can result in a “once bitten twice shy” syndrome, leaving your customers cringing at the idea of having to use your IVR again in the future, and a general lack of confidence in your IVR’s problem- solving abilities.7


The solution: By implementing natural language processing, making your IVR web-aware and providing digital engagement options as described above, you can avoid leaving your customers “snake bit” and provide them with a far more satisfactory IVR experience.


With statistics like these, finding an IVR that customers would describe as easy to use might sound like an impossible task. But new developments in technology have made intelligent, connected IVR systems not only possible, but easy to deploy. Look for systems that integrate visual and voice, allowing customers to easily authenticate their identities, visually bypassing the parts of the IVR that aren’t relevant to them and that can intelligently predict next steps—all things that instill confidence in your IVR channel.


It’s Time to Ditch Your Dumb IVR

IVR systems are a necessary cost-control measure for most large organizations that enable the handling of hundreds of thousands of customer service issues at scale. But times have changed, and “dumb” IVRs simply don’t meet the needs of today’s consumer very well. [24]7.ai is a leader in developing intelligent IVR solutions that provide multichannel customer service journey tracking, web-awareness, mobile optimization, and integrated voice and visuals for smooth, seamless customer journeys and faster self- service resolutions. Contact us today to learn more.


[24]7 Voices™: Delight customers with the natural interactions and increased self-service made possible by this AI-powered, IVR automated system.



  1. PWC, The future of CX, 2018
  2. Vonage, How to End IVR Horrors, 2019
  3. ZDNet, Almost all Americans are frustrated with voice channels to talk to companies, 2019 
  4. [24]7.ai internal data
  5. Statista, Smartphone users worldwide 2016-2021, 2020
  6. Salesforce, Nine Stats About the Customer Retail Journey, 2019 https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2019/04/customer-retail-statistics.html
  7. Business News Daily, 5 Ways Your Interactive Voice Response Can Fail , 2107

61% of consumers feel that IVR technology makes for a poor customer experience.