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Top 5 things people hate about IVR

Everyone involved in IVR industry may have heard reasons why normal users, customers ‘hate’ using IVR ( Interactive Voice Response) Systems. There are many reasons why people hate using IVR and how IVR could be made more user-friendly with good VUI design practices. I thought I would update top five things about IVR that people hate about.

1. Duplicate Information

When customer calls to any call center looking for support, query etc., they are normally answered by IVR and customer needs to provide their information like phone number, account ID etc. ( depending on services they subscribe to). After all these ‘question-answer-round’ and agonising repeat-confirmation round by IVR, customer is finally connected to a CSR or human agent. But immediately, customer is asked the same questions which he had already answered to IVR!

Simple POP-UP screen at CSR dsktop is the solution and many call center do not use them and the customer ire falls on IVR!

2. Being on-hold for long time before one may speak to human agent

After customer’s call is connected and then when she chooses to speak to human/live agent, IVR takes long time to actually transfer the call to live agent as live agents are busy. While everybody agrees that human resources are costly, but so are the time of customers/callers! This long time required for successful call transfer to human agents make customer hate IVR.

Smart predictive dialer is one solution to this.

3. Irritating music on hold/advertisement

As if making wait to speak an human agent is not enough to antagonize the caller, many people use IVR to play irritating music or advertisements while call hold! Imagine, one customer wants to complaint about a service and he gets to listen to advertisements about the same service while waiting to lodge her complaint against the very service!

It is not possible to play music which would be liked by everyone. Simple all waiting tone or announcing of time remaining till CSR would be free to attend the call should be good enough information during call wait.

4. Having to repeat YES/NO in ASR and DTMF pressing

Many ASR ( automatic speech recognition) repeats the answer by the caller and asks to confirm by speaking YES or NO. While this may be a required step for validating user input for IVR developer, but it becomes irritating for a caller having to confirm every answer or repeating the same. It is not easy to press telephone keys using a mobile phone, so many people simply hate IVR for making them press DTMF keys!

Looks like IVR will not be able to come out of this! 🙁

5. Long Menu

Some IVR of call centers really provide long menus or long options to choose from! If there are 9 options in an IVR and if IVR plays them as soon as caller is connected, most probably, caller would disconnect his call before he hears the 3rd option! Many people hate IVR for making them hear options which are not required by them!

We can hope, with smart IVR systems and good VUI design practice, this hatred can be reduced.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Rich Anderson March 9, 2010, 9:02 pm


    Thanks for maintaining such a nice blog.

    I am following up to see if you can review or at least try service from InVox (http://www.invox.com).

    InVox (Intelligent Voice) allows you to configure a fortune-500 phone system in 5 mins without custom coding with Speech Recognition. We won the Best of Show at IT Expo for their intuitive do-it-yourself web 2.0 designer.

    The system is simple with drag and drop interface. Its web based Visio allowing you to create voice mashups. Out of the box, Invox integrates with CRM (Salesforce, Sugar, Zoho), database, web services, payment gateways, online calendars, surveys, auto answering service, diaster notifications, locators and much more.

    Our showcases include integrations with Twitter (say and leave your twee), Yelp, Salesforce, Yahoo and others.

    Invox is also offering a free PBX with call forwarding to Skype and Google Talk.

    I would like to schedule a time with you to showcase a demonstration of the system. As a token of appreciation, I will be willing to provide you with a free phone system with 250 mins each month for your company.

    I look forward to hearing from you.


    Rich Anderson
    Invox – http://www.invox.com
    Phone: 1.877.800.0729 (Say ‘Rich’)

    Follow us on twitter and get $10 off on your business phone system – http://www.invox.com/twitter.php

  • Uttam Pegu March 9, 2010, 10:51 pm

    Hi Rich,
    Thank you for the nice words.

    Few months back, Mr. Manohar from Invox had demonstrated and taught me about Invox visual IVR tools! I really liked it and opened an account and learnt it!

    I have posted about my experience with Invox here :-

    Thank you very much for your kind offer about free calls.
    Best regards
    Uttam Pegu

  • Diwas Pant September 18, 2010, 10:04 pm

    Providing the best IVR solutions at very cost effective prices, since we have our own world class recording studio we are appy to do the scripting, editing, original music composition for the clients, please contact us on the above mentioned email to get a fair quote and the turn around time.

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