You can’t move these days without coming into contact with an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system. Some bright spark a few years back thought they could save a few bucks on labour costs by automating the first part of the customer ‘call in’ experience.

They’re become a running joke at BBQs where we swap stories about how they didn’t recognise the service we were after, or just how far from the right queue we were able to stray.

So it’s nice to be able to give some kudos to a service provider who has got it right. With the government means testing the 30% rebate on private health insurance, I learned from a colleague that you could pre-pay until the end of 2013 and still get the full 30%. While I’m not sure exactly what bracket we’ll fall into, it seemed to be a ‘no-brainer’ given how much the taxman already gets.

When I rang my provider they had a special message about the changes so I ‘pressed 1’ to hear more. Confident I had what I needed to proceed, I hung on for an operator only to be told I would have to wait ‘more than 10 minutes’ before my call would be answered. This is where I got a nice surprise. Instead of 15 minutes of being told “your call is important to us” they offered me the choice of having them call me back in ‘more than 10 minutes’, but that in doing so I wouldn’t lose my place in the queue. I punched in my number, said my name, and I was off the phone.

I got back into my work and sure enough my phone rang around 15 minutes later. “This is your automated call back. When replay of my voice saying my name is on the phone please press 1.” I pressed 1 and sure enough I was speaking to an operator. Less than 2 minutes later I had BPAY details for the transaction and I was off the phone. Less than 2 minutes after that, I had locked in my 30% rebate until the end of 2013 thanks to Internet banking. It’s nice to know this type of experience can still be easy!


What can we learn for this?

If your business services customers via a contact or call centre, do you know what the experience is really like? Have you phoned in yourself lately during a busy time to find out for yourself? What sort of feedback and complaints do you receive? An IVR may not be such a big saving after all if you have automated the task of frustrating your customers on a daily basis. It’s pretty scary to think how many of them have achieved exactly that!