IVR Rage Syndrome

We searched the web and consulted Wikipedia.  We tried several on-line medical dictionaries.  We even asked our staff if they had ever heard of it. We just could not find what we were looking for.

So we decided to call it IVR Rage Syndrome.  No one is totally immune.  The sad part about it, the malady is predictable; but is the cure straightforward?

First, let’s define IVR Rage Syndrome or I.R.S (and no we are not making a thinly veiled  reference to the Internal Revenue Service).

Simply stated, IVR Rage Syndrome is an undesirable and unexpected user reaction to an automated IVR application, usually accompanied by verbal mutterings, outrage, or even socially unacceptable acts.

So what is the cause?  Most might say poor IVR application design.
And the cure?              Many might just say better IVR application design.

Like most challenges, the cure or solution is not always simple or straightforward.  Furthermore, the challenge of arriving at a cure for IVR Rage Syndrome is compounded by a combination of:

1 – Ever changing end-user demographics, combined with
2 – New and evolving methods of retrieving information or answering questions, and
3 – What appears to be a relentless drive to automate as much information retrieval as
possible in an increasingly services focused economy.

Acclaim Telecom is dedicated to the prevention of IVR Rage Syndrome!

We believe that, through a laser-focus on one important concept, I.R.S. can be significantly reduced.  That focus is: always keep the end-user’s (i.e. the caller’s) best interests in mind, regardless of the need or desire to automate as much as possible.

One of the more effective ways of judging how close you have come to keeping the caller’s best interest as the cornerstone of your application is to perform pre-production usability testing (not to be confused with regression testing, performance stress testing, etc).  And we are not just referring to ease of use of the IVR application, or even verification that the application works as defined. Rather, the ease of RESULTS for the caller being the ultimate measurement.  The more complex the IVR application, the more important usability testing becomes in preventing I.R.S.

Finally, usability testing needs to be performed in two stages.  The first and obvious stage is during pre-production testing. The second stage is during early rollout of the application.  By monitoring how CUSTOMERS use and react to the IVR application, you are able to improve customer satisfaction through application tuning efforts.   As testing methods and tools become more adept and sophisticated, these, combined with thoughtful design practices, can go a long way in reducing IVR Rage Syndrome.