Telephone centers around the world often use interactive voice response (IVR). The big question is whether these systems are preferred by people or if they would rather speak directly to a real person. According to Consumer Reports, when it comes to customer service, 75% of people named their top irritant as not being able to get a live person on the phone!  The amount of time people spend on the phone can increase when they are presented with an IVR.

An interactive voice response system can only listen to a person and respond based on the words used. A customer service agent can listen, empathize, and react to the tone, words, and situation a customer presents them with. This means that when someone is upset or disappointed in a product or service, the person on the other end of the line can understand their frustrations and do their best to help. An IVR can only give them an answer instead of a personalized solution.

Another concern that comes with this technology is that it can be confusing and misleading. Customers that call about an issue with a product or service do not want to be bothered with a bunch of irrelevant menu options. Sometimes it can take longer to get to a customer service agent on the phone than it does to explain the actual problem. People who feel frustrated by these strenuous menu options tend to either hang up or continue pressing buttons until connected to a representative.

What’s better than a real-life person answering the phone on the 2nd or 3rd ring? That person dealing with customers with intelligence, courtesy, and respect.

However, keep in mind that not all service agents will be better than an IVR system. People will still come across that slow, frustrating representative that can’t understand them or the situation.

When it comes to call centers, people prefer people– but ONLY if they know they’re properly trained and prepared.