Viewpoint: A Modern Magnifying Glass for IVR Performance

By David Jackson

Thousands of years ago, ancient Egyptians enhanced their view of small objects using pieces of crystal and obsidian. In 1250, British philosopher Roger Bacon created the first magnifier for scientific purposes. Today, a magnifying glass is available for the modern business world, but no hand lens is involved and the subject is neither flora nor fauna. Advanced analytics tools are enabling organizations to learn more about the effectiveness of customer self-service applications than ever before.

Consumer technology has changed dramatically in the past few years and smart businesses can use technology to unlock a deeper understanding of the consumer experience—and make improvements if needed. Insights available through data mining are enabling companies to more intelligently interact with customers, raising the bar for customer service. To meet higher consumer expectations, an interactive voice response (IVR) design based on insights derived from previous IVR interactions is crucial for winning and retaining customers, particularly in prepaid where cardholders rely heavily on customer service. Here are three lessons I’ve gleaned from building customer self-service solutions for prepaid companies and financial institutions—and listening to their feedback:

Log, analyze and remediate all types of IVR errors. IVR errors are not typically tracked; when they are, only one or two major errors, such as backend processor failures, are logged. Next-generation analytics tools can identify at what point customer calls into the IVR experience issues and rank the top error types and locations. Thanks to advanced error-tracking, changes can quickly be made to smooth out frustrations in the IVR customer experience.

Logging user input time-out and invalid entry errors can uncover usability or technical issues and enable continuous customer service improvement. Keeping track of the average number of times an IVR prompt must play before a caller moves on to the next prompt in order to reduce that number may seem trivial, but when you can help customers move through the IRV faster, you’ll see higher caller satisfaction, higher containment and shorter call lengths. For example, if callers are repeatedly entering their date of birth incorrectly, it’s likely that the IVR prompt is confusing and should be reworded, or that the date validation logic needs tuning. Multiply these benefits times 10 prompts per call, times hundreds of thousands (or millions) of calls, and the financial ROIs are usually measured in days or weeks.

More detailed data on caller activities allows for quick, informed decisions on IVR application tuning. And the improvement value shows with increased call resolution and reduced call times.

Customer-centric companies are clamoring for any information that can shed light on customer interactions. Specifically, they understand that tracking more error types provides actionable information for fixing all types of IVR problems to upgrade the consumer experience.

Regular IVR KPI reports enhance a real-time data dashboard. While an “always-on” dashboard is useful for monitoring real-time IVR performance, a regularly scheduled, automatically generated report can make it simple for all stakeholders to keep a pulse on customer self-service. Key performance indicators (KPI), such as average call length and error, containment and authentication rates, can be distributed on a regular basis—without any human effort—enabling prepaid companies to continually monitor overall IVR health and identify trends. One thing that’s particularly useful in prepaid where there typically are many partners involved in a program is tagging all call data with identifying information to provide KPIs for each individual partner, line of business and channel. For instance, the check casher dispenses prepaid cards from the prepaid provider. The provider can queue up weekly reports on all calls that come in on behalf of its distribution partner to ensure the satisfaction of prepaid cardholders who are also customers of the check-cashing store. In a fast-paced, competitive prepaid environment, getting critical, actionable information to stakeholders has never been more valuable.

Applying advanced analytics to call data is one of the best ways to rout out fraud. Fraud control functions that continually analyze all self-service call records for fraudulent behavior can systematically prevent the wrongful financial gain of criminals. To flag suspicious activity, rules related to PIN changes, number of cards per individual, authentication failures and more can be implemented in the IVR system. A high number of card-to-card transfers, for example, is often a sign of attempted money laundering. Fraud rules can detect and automatically remove the card-to-card menu option from the suspected fraudster’s IVR menu. A probable fraudster also could be automatically routed to the risk management department when he or she tries to activate another card.

Being hyper-focused on consumer experience is essential for survival in the age of the customer. Only a modern magnifying glass can produce an accurate image of customer self-service success.

David Jackson serves as the chief operating officer of Enacomm Inc., a provider of voice processing infrastructure, applications and services that optimize customer call interactions. He can be reached at

In Viewpoints, payments professionals share their perspectives on the industry. Paybefore presents many points of view to offer readers new insights and information. The opinions expressed in Viewpoints are not necessarily those of Paybefore.

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