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What is IVR Usability ?

What is IVR Usability ?
In a single line, IVR usability can be defined as ease of use to perform a task of either getting a desired information, lodge some message ( of complaint or anything) using an self service IVR system by a caller to the IVR System. The task performed could be different based on the purpose of the IVR. For example, in a Complaint management IVR, caller should be able to lodge a complaint with correct complaint category at the shortest time to have better IVR usability. The task could be different for different type of IVR System deployed.

IVR with poor usability will not only increase cost of the IVR, it will also frustrate caller ( who could be customer of the company owning the IVR System).

Why IVR Usability testing is important before its deployment?

IVR is intended to automate “routine tasks” in self service mode. It is supposed to perform certain tasks without human intervention. But when this tool becomes difficult to use by its callers, it fails to do desired task it is intended for, or deployed for.

It gives wrong message out the callers/customers about the company that it does not care. It installs an useless gadget which does not perform its intended task thereby wasting money.

It may result in loss of customers and reduce quality of customer service. Reduced customer satisfaction would send away them to competition.

IVR usability test must be done to quantify success of deploying IVR. IVR usability is more important in developing countries like India where majority of the population are new to technologies, including telephone. If IVR System is unable perform any task, it is better to remove IVR from the system than making callers go through IVR System.

In any self service IVR, the number of calls that is routed to human agent should be considered as number of times the IVR has failed to perform a task, as desired by the caller. If anything which can be done by a piece of software, can also be done by IVR. So, if any self service IVR that has more than 20% total calls being transferred to human agent, must to IVR usability study in improve usage of IVR System.

Telephony infrastructure and bandwidth is finite national resource. An IVR System with poor usability wastes this resource by using more time to complete a task by caller or keeping a caller on hold while transferring the call to human agent.

Normally, IVR Usability test should be done by a third party organisation in order to bring in “out of the box”
approach and more integrity. Using third party organization for involving IVR usability test will also bring in more transparency.

IVR usability test should be done periodically to keep assessing how IVR is performing. Callers grow, caller behaviour changes over time as well as due to access to newer technologies.

So, if one has self-service IVR system, one should keep getting IVR Usabilty tests done periodically

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Manaswi August 15, 2014, 4:20 pm

    Agree – very important to continually refine any IVRS.

    I think length of the IVR cycle is a key variable. Customers tolerate IVR to a point, but get frustrated if it seems like a never ending conversation with a machine.

    • Uttam Pegu August 15, 2014, 7:42 pm

      Thanks Manaswi. In India, concept of IVR usability is in very nascent stage. Hopefully, it will come of age soon.

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