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Adaptive IVR Blog

Securing Customer Experience in the IVR

Customer experience, as we all know it, is either good or bad – there are no gray areas when we need help and quickly formulate an impression of our experience. That’s why securing the customer experience (CX) is critical at the first touchpoint a customer has with you.

Bad CX, everyone has experienced it. You call a company and encounter an IVR. You may need to enter your customer information to take any next steps. If you can’t solve the problem on your own, a live agent picks up and asks you who you are all over again. You think, “Why did I waste time entering a 37-digit number or even bother trying to do this myself?” It’s enough to try the Dalai Lama’s patience.

When You Create Roadblocks, Customers Lose

When you create roadblocks to CX, customers loseData should be at the core of your customer relationships. It greases the IVR engine, revving up the CX.

Without it, customers and agents are simply passing strangers. The onus is put on the customer to create their own experience by picking the right channel at the right time, entering or speaking their customer information, and driving the self-service flow or the conversation with the agent for their specific needs.

Without usable data to underpin them, CX can go wrong, which is dangerous in an era of viral social media sharing, as some of these famous embarrassments remind us:

  • Irresponsible! Charter Communications telling customers who were victims of the 2010 tornadoes in Alabama to “look around” for their cable boxes, or they would be charged a $212 lost equipment fee.
  • Inexcusable! Verizon continuing to bill a deceased Florida man for years after his daughter told them he had passed away. Customer reps refused to cancel the account without the dead man’s PIN number, and claimed a death certificate was “not enough” proof.
  • Lackadaisical! British actor Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) tweeting to his millions of fans that the unacceptable wait time for a Time Warner Cable hookup was making him lose “the will to live.”

You Get Only A Billion Chances to Succeed

Use your data to secure CX with actionable analyticsEvery time a customer interacts with your company, opportunities are created to collect information that could be a literal gold mine of resources to clear the road and build a great CX.

When customers call you, the first chance companies get to validate and authenticate a customer relationship is typically in the IVR.

  • Traditional IVR technology relies on the customer to identify himself.
  • A smarter IVR solution can collect billions of points of raw data from every interaction, and with proper analysis, turn it into intelligence that can be used to improve and secure CX by better personalizing and authenticating interactions.

The Impact of Performance


“ Hi Andrea, I see that you are calling from a phone number associated with your account.”

I LOVE (all caps here!) hearing that message when I call customer service. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does I immediately feel better about picking up the phone to get help. I can usually self-serve my needs and get off the phone quickly. That's good CX.


~You’ve reached XYZ customer service...please enter your information...please make your selection from the following menu...we’re sorry that didn’t work, please hold while I transfer you to an agent~

“Hi this is [Agent], can I have your name please?”

“My name is Andrea.”

“How can I help you?”

“Um, I just entered all my information in before I was transferred to you. Don’t you have any record of my information or what I was doing?”

“No ma’am, I’m sorry our systems are not connected.”

Double-whammy CX disgrace! That’s the opposite of securing CX because nothing about that typical scenario optimizes IVR performance to better serve the customer and make the agent more productive and helpful. Unfortunately, the scenario is too common an occurrence.

Bad CX drives your customer away. Secure CX now.

Personalization, Because Customers Hate Being Called “Hey, You!”

Using the data collected from the interaction, a smart IVR can, for example:

  • Recognize your customers
  • Speed customers to their most frequent menu choices
  • Change the pace of interaction for faster or slower customers

With each interaction, you can learn about your customers and bring continuous improvement to future customer experiences.

Fix Problems Before the Damage is Done

For customers who find it hard to remember where they put their car keys some mornings, many of the contact center authentication practices being piled on for “their security” are becoming downright onerous, which puts the customer experience (CX) and great customer relationships at risk.

The conundrum:

  • Secure phone calls have their own challenges, with long account numbers to enter, passcodes, identification codes, and more to securely protect account information – which usually takes place in the IVR.
  • When extra authentication is needed to spot criminals and prevent fraud, but the IVR analytics can’t recognize and validate customers “behind the scenes,” CX declines even further.

When a call comes into the IVR, the caller is either legitimate or up to no good.

The speed of authentication counts:

  • Process the transaction too quickly and without enough safeguards for a fraudster, and you’ve let loose chaos for the customer downstream.
  • Process the transaction too slowly for a legitimate customer (because of cumbersome authentication processes) and he or she may simply give up and never do business with your organization again.

Either way, you lose. 

Customers want you to understand them and make life easier for them. They also want security in their transactions. Most of all, though, they don’t want to see the workings behind the scene.

Take steps to secure CX for your customers. They’re worth it.

Andrea Katsivelis

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