IVR woes: good idea – poor execution

I was trying to reach the customer service of a company just now. There I was, listening to the endless music of an IVR system, punctuated by the usual happy reminders that I am oh-so-appreciated by them and they’ll get to me real soon (liars!), when something happened. The recording declared that they were very busy so if I could leave my name and number they’ll get back to me. No option to keep waiting.

To their credit, the next step was done professionally – the IVR had me state my name, then key in my phone number, then confirm it when it read it back to me – so I have good reason to believe they will really get back to me. Which is actually better than the silly music. So giving me this way out is a good idea.

The bad part is, if they knew they were busy (and, assuming it’s a FIFO queue, they had the necessary information – my place in line – as soon as they picked up my call) – why wait for long minutes of stupid music before switching to the leave-your-name-and-number routine? They’re giving the customer the combined worst of both solutions!

2 Responses to “IVR woes: good idea – poor execution”


  1. 1 charlie

    it’s a welcome change, but my bank states what the average time will be until the call is answered and gives you a choice whether to wait or leave a name/phone for a callback. the callback stays in the queue at the same place, and i actually do get a callback in approximately the correct stated time.

    so it’s not like it’s hard to do the right thing.

  2. 2 Nathan Zeldes

    Yep… I love the ones that tell you where you stand. I’ve seen one that tells you every minute or so your place in the queue, which shows you progress and alleviates the uncertainty. Still a rarity, unfortunately.

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