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Roger Elwell - Yes Please

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My Card Issuer's IVR - Tailored to Irrirate?

04 October 2009  |  4027 views  |  2

I have a hate relationship with IVRs.  I hate the inevitably patronising tone of the voice, the layouts, the fact that many of them have been designed by people who think they have brains the size of the galaxy, but obviously no real life, and the option I want is always at the end...

I had reason to use my card issuer's IVR this weekend.  I was asked for my card number and date of birth (DD/YY/MM), then, having obviously passed, I was told my balance, available credit, next minimum payment amount and the due date - none of which I wanted but was nevertheless forced to listen to - there is no override - BIG BEEF NUMBER ONE

Oh, and they told me how I could use the 'great' online service instead - but a) they didn't know at that point what was the purpose of my call, so how did they know it could have been dealt with that way? and b) they didn't know that I was calling to undertake a transaction because the website wasn't working properly - at least not for me...

Then, I was finally given choices - 8 of them.  Try remembering them all when you're unsure what you want.  And then I hit BIG BEEF NUMBER TWO.  I eventually selected the option I wanted (predictably, not one that said 'speak to a real person'), only to find that I had to put the full card number in again.  What the hell that was for, is anyone's guess.  I thought maybe they were testing me, or something.  The best bit, however, was that they also wanted my date of birth once again, but this time in a different format - DD/MM/YYYY - now I felt I was being put through one of those psychometric tests - you know, where they ask you the same question, but differently, to see whether your original answer was right or whether you are trying to manipulate the system. 

Anyway, I must have passed again, but then I hit BIG BEEF NUMBER THREE.  The gentle and patronising voice advised me that they couldn't deal with my issue at this time, but instead I'd have to call back during the week, or on Saturday mornings.  What!!!  Why the hell couldn't the IVR have said that when I first made the choice to contact that department, instead of getting me to put in mega volumes of numbers?  Have some proper real people actually gone through their IVR choices as if they were real customers, and spotted things like this, that are certain to p**s people off?  Obviously not.

The funny thing is that, if I'd have actually got through to a real-life person, I just know that they would have asked me for my card number (again), date of birth (again) and probably when it was that I last had sex, BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT THEY DO.  Perhaps it's a good job I didn't get through, because if I had and they had (if you know what I mean), I would have turned their phone call recording system a deep shade of indigo.

IVRs - quite possibly one of the worst inventions mankind has devised.  I can find nobody who likes them - apart from harrassed and cost-challenged ops directors, and IVR designers/programmers who are either sadists or competing in the 'who can most rile customers' competition.

Why do we put up with them?

I only hope the website works for me next time.

TagsCardsRetail banking

Comments: (2)

Alexander De Lange
Alexander De Lange - Aurelia Financial Consultants cc - Johannesburg 06 October, 2009, 05:16


Why do we put up with them, indeed?

It should not be that hard to collectively refuse to deal with those systems that treat us like ........

Supposedly there are better ones, although I have not found one yet.

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John Copping
John Copping - CGI - London 09 October, 2009, 09:14

That's why I have always interpreted IVR as Involuntary Voice Response - because of the swearword you use when you get connected to such a "service".

I have heard that if you keep thumping 0 it will get you through to a human operator.

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Consulting to the financial services industry with a specific expertise in the cards business - issuing and acquiring.

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