Just recently we were contacted by a business concerned about their IVR abandon rates. This firm was experiencing 20% abandon rates at the start of the IVR, not such a good thing considering that these are generally all prospects and mostly stimulated by costly TVC to call. The cool thing in this case study was the perceived value of these calls, versus often a keenness on the business side to accept abandonment as a relief to their “call centre” activities.
Fact – customers have many reasons to abandon calls – but understanding the statistics and impact on the customer experience is important. What the case study business had failed to do was compare the abandon calls to ones that later hold on to to talk to an agent and see if the customer did in fact still make contact. IF they don’t then there is a problem because in this case study we lose a potential “sale”.
Clients are often concerned at hang-ups early in the IVR menus. However, if they looked carefully this is also evident in the first 10 seconds of being in the contact centre CSR queue. It’s actually easily explained (behavioural and something you see even in physical queues) and nothing to be too concerned about except where you know you have a valuable caller and opportunity on the line as we do have in the case study example.
In the particular case study the honest truth was that the IVR experience was horrible. Background sounds were variable and distracting, the prompts were confusing (in business not customer language), and the persona was poor. While the callers were invested in getting through, this didn’t overcome the fact that they were new, nervous and inexperienced in this particular domain. The outcome was for 20% to simply hang-up. A darn good re-alignment of the IVR was the obvious fix but for most businesses that’s not what will make the biggest difference.
In cases where the callers have different levels of investment into their action of calling and value to the business, it is appropriate to differentiate service (order of treatment, speed to answer, application of virtual queueing, call backs, service levels, etc). This ensures you get an opportunity to get the right customer, with the right enquiry through quickly to the right agent. This is one of our recommended strategies in designing your capability to maximise value. This can be incredibly simple but recognises that every business should have a strategy in place such that it can deliver a planned service experience. Simple as that is, barely any business do it – just ask.
For the record, it is not uncommon to see 10-15% of callers abandon early in an IVR. the rule of thumb is a 3-5% abandon for every poor set of prompts that a customer has to navigate. If you have a poor identification step or authentication 8-10% is possible. We did some work recently where our client had a 30% hang-up rate early in one of the IVRs. It was a simple case of dialogue that a customer simply didn’t expect and the easiest option was to hang-up and seek another “door” to the organisation. (btw: remember, when doing the math these numbers don’t compound).
We’ve also done and seen similar behaviour in the physical world and used these to business advantage. The simplest example is waiting till the queues build in the bank branch and then talking to the person last in the queue about using the IVR to transact (obviously having one in close proximity for the customer). Those at the back of the queue have nothing to lose so will abandon their place. Those further up cannot easily be persuaded nor can people when the queue isn’t of significant length. So, it’s all about incentives and disincentives. The IVR is the same so don’t be worried, but do focus on knowing your strategy and the experience you are delivering.
About Flare Design: Flare are leaders in IVR, open speech, and voice biometrics, the benefits, and the customer experience they deliver. We bring a complete end-to-end view of the impacts, pitfalls and mitigating strategies of IVR implementations, change and the impact on staff.