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Cloud-based communications provider Vonage has published research which reveals that more than half (51%) of consumers have abandoned a business altogether because they've reached an automated menu of options (known as Interactive Voice Response or IVR), losing that company an average of US$262 per customer every year. This article is copyright 2019 The Best Customer Guide.

The 2019 Vonage IVR survey, which was based on independent research among 2,010 survey respondents from the United States1, found that of those customers who ditched a business as a result of reaching an IVR menu, 89% of the money they would have spent, was then spent with a competitor.

Per the survey, sixty-one percent of consumers feel that IVR technology makes for a poor customer experience, while just 13% believe it makes for a positive one. And on average, consumers abandoned more than a quarter (27%) of calls they made to businesses in the last year because they reached an IVR, with 85% terminating at least one call.

The 2019 IVR survey findings are consistent with Vonage's 2018 Serial Switchers' study, which revealed that US companies providing poor customer service were letting an estimated US$ billion slip into the pockets of their competitors.

Many businesses use an IVR to connect with callers, yet 64% of respondents described having negative feelings such as frustration (47%), stress (7%) and anger (6%), when presented with one. Seventeen percent reported 'no particular emotion', with only a small percentage feeling hopeful and positive (8 and 4% respectfully).

According to the survey, top things customers disliked include: the reason for calling might not be listed (65%), being forced to listen to irrelevant options (63%), IVR keeps callers from reaching a live person (54%) and the menus are usually too long (46%).

Having navigated an IVR and reached a customer service agent, consumers reported feeling more relieved (27%), less frustrated (26%), more hopeful (25%) and less angry (24%) than when they first initiated the call.

"Technology is important, of course - but to connect people, not to keep them apart," comments Ken McMahon, Senior Vice President, Customer Success. "Customer experience is the one area companies can differentiate and compete in an increasingly commoditized world, and with solutions like Dynamic Routing, which enables customers to reach the most appropriate agent for their call, every time, there's a path to great CX that's waiting for smart companies to take."