Clever Capital Investment or Shiny New Toy?

If you have ever called a call centre, no doubt you have used an IVR (interactive voice response, press 1 to change your address…press 2 to…  you get the idea).

The public is generally a little damming about them, to quote Wikipedia:

“IVR is sometimes criticised as being unhelpful and difficult to use due to poor design and lack of appreciation of the caller’s needs”

However, they answer so many calls and are so cost effective it is unlikely that we are going to lose them any time soon.

In response to the public’s criticisms, many businesses are investing in more and more sophisticated technology, that allows customers to talk to the IVR which in turn can understand what they say.  This makes them more “human”.  Click the play button below and you can hear the results for yourself.

[audio http://www.voiceport.net/files/ChangeOfAddress.mp3 ]

A classic case of process improvement right?

Well maybe not.  Maybe a classic example of shiny new toys.

I know using Wikipedia as the font of all knowledge is a dangerous thing, but to re-quote:

“IVR is sometimes criticised as being unhelpful and difficult to use due to poor design and lack of appreciation of the caller’s needs

Just because the technology can understand some of the words your customers say doesn’t mean it is well designed and can appreciate the callers needs.

Perhaps figuring those needs out first would be a good place to start.

The logic applies equally well to any fancy investment, a GUI, a letter sorter, an automated queuing system.

Is that capital investment fixing a customer service problem?  Or is it a shiny new toy?

Capital Investment DecisionImage by Chris Toombes

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