Can you always believe the IVR message?

Can you always believe the IVR message?

Frequently, people ask me which companies have the best service.  I generally mention American Express as an example. They seem to hire the right people, train them appropriately and do not sound scripted. Although I check my online account a few different times during the month, I periodically call the toll free number with a question.

The last two times I called American Express, which happened to be within a ten-day time span, the message on the IVR was, “We are experiencing a high volume of calls and customers should call back at another time.” I really needed the information, so I pressed the appropriate option to connect to a live representative. In both instances, a person immediately answered and was able to resolve my issue.  It seemed like too much of a coincidence that in both cases my call went to an agent almost instantly. Although I was happy, I was suspicious that the IVR messaging was really suggesting that I try to find my answer by a channel other than live operator.

I was also thinking, if a customer contacts a company, the recording should never say call back at another time. There should be technology in place to request the customer’s telephone number so that a representative can re-contact the customer.

The two people I spoke to were professional, pleasant, and welcoming, but it left me with a bad taste. I know that many companies are “pushing” self-service options. I like self-service too, but not when I already know I need to speak to a person.

Have you experienced similar situations with other companies?

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About the Author ()

Richard R. Shapiro is Founder and President of The Center For Client Retention (TCFCR) and a leading authority in the area of customer satisfaction and loyalty. For 28 years, Richard has spearheaded the research conducted with thousands of customers from Fortune 100 and 500 companies amassing the ingredients of customer loyalty and what drives repeat business. His first book was The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business and The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business, was released in February, 2016.

Comments (1)

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  1. I’m with you, Richard. While I understand companies are working hard to provide information through self-service, there is a gracious way to “push” and it’s not using an IVR to say ‘call us back when WE are less busy’.’ Surprising from American Express, whom I agree delivers consistently outstanding live service. I have experienced this tactic with CIGNA Healthcare and find it equally distasteful. Even my utility company utilizes the call-me-back technology.