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Research Reveals Consequences Of Companies’ Poor Automated Phone Systems

August 13, 2012

83% of Consumers Avoid Companies with Such Systems; 70% Use Social Media, Other Channels to Share Bad Experiences

Survey Findings Challenge IVR Industry; 66% Claim “No Improvement” or “Worse” Over Last 10 Years


automated phone systemsNEW YORK, Aug. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — According to a new survey being released today at the leading annual speech technology conference, the dissatisfaction with the automated phone systems that many companies use has prompted consumers to take their business elsewhere. The nationwide poll of more than 2,000 respondents, commissioned by Interactions Corporation, indicates that more than 8 in 10 consumers (83%) say they will avoid a company or stop giving it business after a poor experience with an automated phone system — a.k.a. “interactive voice response,” or “IVR.”


“Consumers have become unbelievably frustrated with automated phone systems,” Interactions Corporation CEO Mike Iacobucci said. “Corporations have long believed that consumers will put up with difficult automated phone systems, but that’s no longer true,” noting that 66% said IVRs and even live representatives have gotten worse, or have not improved, over the past 10 years. Iacobucci added: “Consumers are abandoning companies that put them into ‘voicejail.'”


According to Interactions’ survey, more than 70% of consumers will share their negative IVR experience not just with the company itself, but also with friends and family, as well as the world at large, through word of mouth, social media, and blogs.


Of all available customer service methods, the most popular method far and away (67%) was the customer service representative. When a live body wasn’t available, consumers’ next preference was website-based customer support (23%), then live chat with a customer service representative (18%). Only 16% chose IVR as the preferred option.


“People have had such poor IVR experiences, they prefer not to use them to resolve their problems,” Iacobucci noted. “They resort to IVRs either when they can’t find what they need online or when they want to speak with a live agent. So, consumers aren’t driven back to the website because of a bad automated phone experience — they start at the website.”


New York University Assistant Professor of Communications Liel Leibovitz conducted the research. More than 2,100 adult Americans were surveyed between March and May 2012 using a quota sampling technique. The results will be presented by Interactions Corporation Marketing and Business Development Executive Vice President, Phil Gray and Prof. Leibovitz at SpeechTEK 2012, the annual speech technology business exhibition being Aug. 13-15 in New York City.


Iacobucci noted that while much progress has been made in customer self-service — through new mobile applications, an increase in website chat deployments, and social media — nearly three-quarters (74%) of consumers said it’s important for any company they do business with to have an excellent IVR. That finding is made all the more important by the fact that the often difficult to use IVR channel is still the main way for consumers to reach their preferred option of a live agent.


“Despite their wide deployment, customer service interactive voice response and speech applications are generally perceived as ‘necessary evils’ by customers,” said Gartner1 Research VP Drew Kraus.


“It’s not a contact center problem,” Iacobucci explained. “It’s a customer experience problem. Customer touchpoints go from the most basic to the most intensive, from Google searches to live calls. If each customer interaction is not consistently satisfying,” he added, “then each negative customer experience will translate into a decline of brand affinity.”


He noted that Interactions’ patented technology provides an array of tangible benefits for businesses looking to truly understand their customers’ needs and requests, and represents a viable alternative to the traditional IVR systems.


About Interactions
Interactions Corporation enables companies to more effectively interact with their customers. Its patented technology for automated voice and other interactive systems delivers an unprecedented level of understanding that engages customers in a productive, natural conversation. The company serves a growing customer roster of industry-leading brands, including Hyatt, Humana, and Best Western, from its corporate headquarters near Boston. It has other facilities in Indiana and Texas. Learn more at


1 Gartner, Inc. “Cool Vendors in CRM Customer Service and Social, 2012.” N.p., 16 Apr. 2012. Web.
Media Contact:
Dan Fox
SOURCE Interactions Corporation