In a scene from the hit British sitcom show ‘Miranda’ the main character (Miranda Hart) experiences a frustrating exchange with an interactive voice response gone awry.

The auto-attendant leads her through a series of prompts only to repeatedly misunderstand Miranda’s pronunciation of the word, ‘Tuesday.’ After several hilarious attempts to communicate with the auto-attendant, an exasperated Miranda is finally connected to a live person.

The scene draws a roar of empathetic laughter from the studio audience, driving home the fact that most of us have shared Miranda’s frustrating experience.

But that episode aired in 2012 and interactive voice response has come a long way since then.

The systems still aren’t perfect, but thanks to improved technology and menu strategies, interactive voice response is an affordable and efficient solution for businesses, offering such features as analytics, call tracking, call routing, demographic-specific music on hold, and even automated attendants that sound like humans.

But as helpful as these systems are, some companies still remain wary of them, preferring to continue using a receptionist or voicemail – and missing out on the benefits of interactive voice response including the cost-savings.

If your company has yet to employ an interactive voice menu system, could one or more of these common myths be holding you back?

Myth #1: On hold music makes for a bad customer experience

This myth is true only if the on hold music is bad.

No one wants to listen to outdated canned music on a loop. And as more companies move to voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) systems, this myth proliferates because most of these systems offer very limited – and bad – musical options.

But you can have great music with interactive voice response.

If you employ a custom audio branding consultant for music, your musical choices are unlimited, allowing you to choose music that appeals to the demographic of your customer and ensuring a more positive on hold experience.

Myth #2: Voice recognition systems are inaccurate

Miranda’s experience notwithstanding, modern voice recognition systems are highly accurate.

Popular consumer applications such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa report an error rate of less than five percent. Plus, their user-friendly interfaces are winning consumers over with their human-like answers to questions and ability to perform simple tasks such as play music, podcasts and even take orders on Amazon.

Other companies, such as FedEx, have developed and employed a natural language-based interactive voice recognition system that accommodates both English and French-speaking callers on the same platform.

Clearly, the technology behind voice recognition systems has advanced and will continue to do so, improving interactive voice response experiences.

Myth #3: Customers would rather seek help from a real person

In fact, research shows that callers prefer NOT to speak with a person.

While some customers will always want to talk to a customer service representative, most prefer their problems solved in the least amount of time. And this is what IVR does best.

  • One study found that up to 70% of callers prefer self-serve automated options.
  • After Delta Airlines improved its IVR system, the company lowered main menu opt-out rates from 37% to nine percent; with most callers preferring auto-attendants to that of speaking with an agent.

Modern, conversational interactive voice response that allow customers to simply ask for what they need have been shown to deliver results faster and increase customer satisfaction.

Myth #4: Interactive voice response can’t handle detailed information or complex queries

We’ve been conditioned that auto attendants only understand short commands such as, “Say ‘yes’ or ‘no’”; or “Please state your name”.

And then we try to communicate this information slowly and as clearly as possible, perpetuating the myth that interactive voice response is delicate.

But the capabilities of interactive voice menus are greater than you think. Most can accommodate and process complex sentences with multiple pieces of information.

Myth #5: Interactive voice response systems are expensive

And customer service representatives aren’t?

Cloud-based systems are more affordable to set up and require almost no maintenance fees. And because your phone modules are ‘in the cloud’, your host will resolve problems as they arise.

You know how much human customer service reps cost you in wages and benefits. Do the math and you’ll see just how much money you can save by using interactive voice response.