The Technology of Customer Service

Posted by in Customer Service

In recent years, that CSR team has been assisted with various forms of technology, and when used properly, can be a great benefit. The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system is one tool that has become a staple for many businesses, but knowing how to properly set it up to best serve the customer will make all of the difference in the world when it comes to better customer satisfaction.

Over the years, IVR systems have gone from being clunky and robotic to smoother and customer friendly. “In the past, IVRs didn’t communicate with us all that well because they didn’t have the processing speed for accurate interpretation of our complicated speech or natural-sounding speech of their own. Today, they do,” explains Charlie Smith from Customer Service News.

Even with the better systems in place, I am sure there are people still punching zero to get to an operator, but public acceptance of these systems has greatly reduced those numbers. When it comes to simple processes like checking balances or retrieving general account information, the IVR is actually now often preferred by most people. However, it is still up to the company to ensure that the system not only has an option to reach a live operator in place, but that the option is quick and easy to locate.

The goals for any IVR system should be ease of use for any users and must be set up with the simplest customers in mind. The goal of the IVR is to increase efficiency as well as reduce the customer work load. Anything that complicates or frustrates that process needs to be eliminated. Aside from using a non-standard options set up like the press-zero-for-an-operator option, things like using company jargon can complicate the IVR system and should be avoided.

According to a recent list by Communications Products, Inc. some of the other reasons that customers give negative points to an IVR system include not having applicable choices to them, unable to even get to a live person, system not recognizing their voice, having to provide the same information over and over, or having to verbally confirm every answer. Let us take a look at a couple of these.

As mentioned, some people despise these automated services, so having a live operator option is still a must, and not having that option readily available is a big negative to the system. Another big negative is not having a system that is efficient enough to recognize a multitude of voice and accent possibilities. Newer systems are getting better and better at this, but making sure the system is up to date and tested well for this is a necessity. Also, having the option to navigate the menu with the numbers keypad and not just voice recognition is suggested.

One of the biggest frustrations for me are systems that require a confirmation after every choice. The same goes for systems that require you to input all of your information, but later, when you're transferred to a live agent, none of that information gets sent to them. Such quirks can be irritating, increase customer workload, and should be avoided.

If you are currently seeking work within a CSR-related field that uses this technology, it is in your best interest to learn the best-practice techniques and how to operate and set up these types of systems. Understanding these things can help make you a more valuable asset to the company. Just be aware that as these systems become more and more efficient over time, it may mean that a company will need less and less live agents to provide the service. Being an operator on the backend of these systems is sometimes a better place to be than being an operator on the phone connected to and potentially in line to be replaced by these systems.  

Image courtesy of Ambro at


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