Improve Your IVR, Improve the Customer Experience

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I’m lucky enough to live in a warm part of the country.  Thanks to a certain mouse, it’s a convention and meeting mecca.  This time of year is especially popular for companies in the Midwest who are in the midst of a never-ending winter. A few weeks ago, my sister had a meeting in town, so she added a few extra days to her trip for a visit.

When my sister checked in at the airport for her outbound flight she discovered an issue with her frequent traveler number, A.K.A. TSA Pre-Check. It wasn’t much of a problem for her flying out a small regional airport in Wisconsin.  But getting through the security line in Orlando would be another story. It is not for the faint of heart.  In fact, The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority recommends arriving three hours before scheduled departure times.

On the eve of her departure, my sister started making phone calls to see if she could get to the bottom of her frequent traveler number.  Her first call to TSA threw her into an IVR loop she couldn’t seem to get out of.  She put her phone on speaker and I listened to the prompts.  We were both unable to find a menu item that matched what she was trying to do.  “Hit #-0-#.” I told her.

She was then connected with a live agent.  It turns out when she made her reservation, she missed a number, maybe it was a letter… Regardless, the number she provided to the airline was incorrect.

Her next call was to the airline. The airline was busy.  They were dealing with yet another Nor’easter in addition to their normal call volume.  The IVR told her she could expect a 42-minute wait.  We chatted while she waited on hold. It was really nothing out of the ordinary except the hold music served as the score to our conversation. After an hour and four minutes into the expected 42-minute wait time, she was disconnected.

She called again, but now she was clearly distracted by the thought of arriving at the airport so far in advance of her flight. As we got dinner started, the hold music continued to play and our conversation was more focused on the plan for the next day, what time she should leave and what if she wasn’t able to get her frequent traveler number to the airline before she arrived for check-in.

Once again, after a long hold, she was disconnected.  She spent the better part of two hours on hold and still hadn’t spoken to anyone.  It certainly affected her mood and the tone of the evening for the last night of her visit. Making it even worse for me, was that I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of experience she would have had if the airline had Aspect® InQueue Self-Service™,  which offers IVR callers a callback option plus a link to a mobile web app via SMS to try self-service while waiting. If they are able to resolve their issue using the mobile app, the callback is canceled. Otherwise, their position in the queue will be prioritized to reward them for having tried self-service.  Even though it would have been unlikely she could have resolved her issue through self-service, the call back would have been much appreciated.

The next day, we left extra early for the airport.  Again, the conversation focused on waiting in the security line that never ends. Time I would have rather spent talking about, anything else really (even though I agree the security line in Orlando is painful). Fifteen minutes after I dropped her off she called me. The agent was able to add her frequent traveler number to her ticket and she was already through security.

Learn more about how modern IVR solutions like Aspect InQueue Self-Service can improve the overall customer experience.