Monday, November 28, 2005

A response to the cheat sheet of bypassing voicemail hell

I posted a few weeks ago about a site by Paul English listing ways to talk to a human instead of navigating through voicemail hell.,. a provider of automated voice systems, actually posted a response to the “cheat” site, making the following points:

  1. Most IVR systems are good, especially speech-enabled systems. Two-thirds of consumers feel voice automation is efficient and fulfills their needs, whereas 34% of consumers complain that they have dealt with unfriendly live agents.
  2. Every selection you make in the IVR system will help the system make progress towards solving your problem either in the IVR system or by routing you to the most qualified live agent.
  3. By zeroing out at the first prompt, you give up control over the type of agent you will ultimately speak to. You will likely end up in the most generic queue and, hence, the queue with the longest wait time. Then you'll explain your problem to somebody who is not qualified to solve the problem, who in turn will place you into yet another queue.
  4. In almost all cases, if you have a request that can be resolved completely by an IVR system (like account balance, order status etc.), using the IVR system correctly will get you results faster than talking to a human.
  5. The more people that use IVR systems for easy requests (see #4), the greater the number of live agents who are available for complex requests. This leads to better and more qualified service for everyone - by using the IVR system you are doing a service to all your fellow callers.

All of the points above are about what you would expect and, as I would expect, Paul English had this response to

The rebuttals are mostly a bunch of hogwash.

. . . consumers are not stupid, and they should be given the choice to connect to a human when they want.

I would put it in this way:

If IVRs were so helpful and easy then there would be no need for Paul English’s list and no need to produce a 5 point rebuttal to English’s list.’s response

Paul English’s response to


1 comment:

Kate said...

Paul English makes some great points. I saw his piece on ABC World News Tonight and he's bringing to light that most companies operating in the IVR space have shoddy systems. There are a couple companies in the IVR industry trying to change things, however, with next generation systems that link to CRM systems. has a great web-based sysem that allows small businesses to creat IVR systems that are even more sophistacted than what the big boys are using. My Dad uses the system for his online ebay store selling vintage posters and autographed baseballs. He's able to provide far better customer service using's system than he would ever be able to provde on his own.