Interactive Voice Response (IVR), the bane of many a frustrated customer, is stifling the growth of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as it gets bigger, dearer and ever more time-consuming – according to IT and communications support specialist, Excalibur Communications.
Excalibur says that the drain on SMEs in simply trying to get to speak to the right person about a phone or IT problem takes up far too much time and has the knock-on effect of lost revenue through their unhappy customers, whose needs can't always be met due to technical issues.
Incentivised by generating revenue from incoming calls, rather than promptly providing decent customer service, Excalibur claim that IVR stalling tactics such as charging customers to jump the queue have gone from bad to worse, to downright 'devious'.
"Putting extra profit before healthy long term customer relationships is just not good enough in the modern connected world", commented Andy Tow, Excalibur's Chief Commercial Officer.
"Being flagrantly unkind to your customers plays its part in suppressing the growth of SMEs, especially if they haven't yet opted to simplify their technical needs with unified communications from one supplier. The whole economy grows by service revenue, but the message from the IVR fan club is clear: 'Dear Customer, We Don't Care About You! Just keep on waiting and keep on giving us even more money, whilst your business suffers'. It's a callous practice".
Tow says that money-driven IVR is an affront to customers, guaranteed to create bad feeling. He added: "We won't entertain even the most basic IVR. We made a commitment that we will not introduce IVR and we'll be keeping to that because we're a people business".
Excalibur's CCO also expressed his frustration on behalf of SMEs, stating that insidious techniques on the increase include a relatively quick answering time for the caller – only to find that an operator-type service then shunts customers back to square one by making them waiting to speak to the right department. Call-answering targets get met, but the customer is invariably still left in no-man's-land – and even when they do finally get through, there's no guarantee that their problem will be resolved.
Tow continued: "There's also an increase in the supposed promised call back on a company web site's, that surprise, surprise, usually doesn't materialize! Service levels in the U S are so high, but here in the UK there are companies who should be ashamed of how very badly they treat their customers."