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Study: Automated call centers carry hidden cost

A new survey indicates call center automation drives away customers, incurring losses.

According to a survey of 2,000 consumers from business cloud communications platform Vonage, 61% of respondents believe automated menus of call center options, which run on interactive voice response (IVR) technology, create a poor customer experience. More than half (51%) of respondents have abandoned a business because of its IVR-based customer call center experience.

According to Vonage data, each customer lost due to frustration with IVR costs businesses an average of $262 every year. Only 13% of respondents believe IVR creates a positive customer experience. On average, consumers abandoned more than one-quarter (27%) of calls they made to businesses in the last year because they reached an IVR, with 85% terminating at least one call.

Many businesses use an IVR to connect with callers, yet 64% of respondents described having negative feelings such as frustration (47%), stress (7%) and anger (6%), when presented with an IVR-based customer call center system. Seventeen percent reported “no particular emotion,” with only small percentages feeling hopeful and positive (8% and 4%, respectfully).

According to the survey, top things respondents dislike about IVR technology include: the reason for calling might not be listed (65%), being forced to listen to irrelevant options (63%), IVR keeps callers from reaching a live person (54%) and the menus are usually too long (46%).

Having navigated an IVR and reached a customer service agent, consumers reported feeling more relieved (27%), less frustrated (26%), more hopeful (25%) and less angry (24%) than when they first initiated the call.

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