Your Callers Are Hanging Up. Find Out Why.

I record IVR prompts for a vast variety of industries. One day, it’s the phone tree for a sandwich shop in Saudi Arabia, the next: a mortuary in New Jersey. Regardless of what type of business it is, and aside from the various “styles” of read that is requested, clients all want the same thing:

a pleasant experience for their callers.

A phone system that’s easy to use, a breeze to navigate through, and doesn’t work at odds with the customer’s goal: to interact with the company and to get to a solution to their problem.

Sounds really common-sense when you see it written out before you, doesn’t it?

And yet – on those occasions when I call a company (not often; despite working in IVR, I hate talking on the phone) – I encounter IVRs which present far too many options to me, waste my time, and force me to work harder than I should have to.

I always ask potential clients – especially those who have sent me a nightmare of a complicated call flow script to voice – to remember the last frustrating experience they had while calling a company. The following things probably happened:

You Were Overwhelmed by Too Many Choices – Human attention spans and limitations on memory being what they are, you were given far too many options, and you were concerned that you were going to pick the wrong option and have to go through the whole process again. I always urge clients to limit the choices in their opening greeting to FIVE – maximum – and if you need the caller to drill down into a submenu (and I really wish you wouldn’t) – limit THOSE choices to THREE. If you can’t “sort” the callers into a logical stream during the top level of the IVR, micro-sorting them through various sub-menus will only frustrate the caller and lead to a high hang-up rate – and nobody wants that.

They Asked You for the Same Information – More Than Once – My own bank asks me for my PIN number – not once; not twice; but THREE times in a routine enquiry call. While I applaud verification and safeguards, I got annoyed when I input it twice and was asked for again by the live agent. Callers will disengage – and hang up – when they feel as though you’re not listening or making a note of their choices.

You Felt Like the IVR Was for Their Benefit – Not Yours – Of course the IVR is for the company’s benefit: it was designed by them to sort callers into various streams; ultimately to ensure that the right type of call goes to the right type of agent – thereby using the company’s resources more efficiently.

But what if the IVR empowered the caller? Made the caller feel as though they were a huge part in selecting the kind of service they’d like? What if the caller felt in charge of the transaction? With every choice they make in the call flow, they felt they were getting closer to their destination of service — not getting further and further lost in a maze? Something to think about.

Of course – using metrics to track caller hang-up rates; not just where they disengage from the process, but why — is critical to streamlining your caller’s experience. Loway makes incredible tools for analyzing drop-off; solid processes to determine weak areas in the transactional chain and fixing them – and retaining that customer.


Allison Smith is a professional IVR voice, having voiced platforms for Asterisk, Verizon, Qwest, Cingular, Bell Canada and Vonage. Private clients include State Farm, PetSmart, NASA, 3M and Toyota, among many others.

The post Your Callers Are Hanging Up. Find Out Why. appeared first on The IVR Voice.

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