7 Common IVR Challenges and How to Solve Them

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology plays a critical role in contact center operations. These systems are designed to improve customer satisfaction by helping callers find answers on their own before they get connected with a contact center agent.

Research shows that at least 81% of customers prefer finding answers to their questions on their own.

A good IVR system can save your business a lot of time and money since it automates the call-routing process and eliminates customer waiting time.

These systems are great at providing customers with timely and accurate information such as order status, appointment rescheduling, product, and service information, etc.

However, IVRs come with their fair share of problems you must deal with. Below are some common IVR challenges and how to solve them.

Challenge #1: Voice Recognition Errors

One of the main challenges of IVRs is voice recognition errors which happen when the system fails to understand what the caller is asking or saying. This often leads to confusion, frustration, and dissatisfaction for the agent and the caller.

The best way to address this issue is by using natural language processing (NLP) technology to make the IVR more accurate. NLP models can handle complex queries and provide accurate feedback to the caller.

7 Common IVR Challenges and How to Solve Them

Another way to address the issue of voice recognition errors is to leave the option open for your callers. Ensure you keep the IVR short and simple to help with proper organization.

You can also use a customer-centric voice user interface (VUI) to improve customer satisfaction. A VUI can help callers navigate through your IVR options with ease and get their queries resolved quickly.

Challenge #2: Lengthy, Confusing Menus

While providing your callers with sufficient menu options may seem good, it can also lead to decision fatigue. Many people feel annoyed and frustrated when they have to dial through so many options to get what they want.

In fact, long menus can easily create an ineffective call flow that doesn’t help your callers with the information they want.

Moreover, lengthy menus can lead to relatively high call abandonment rates. Typically, your call abandonment rate should be below 6%. If you start noticing a higher abandonment rate, review your IVR since it could be the cause.

So, how do you resolve the issue of lengthy and confusing menus? Start by ensuring that your IVR menus are simple and intuitive. That is, they should give callers a precise path to a specific resource or agent they need to solve their issue.

A simple IVR menu can be something like:

  • Press 1 for scheduling.
  • Press 2 for account management.
  • Press 3 for billing.
  • Press 4 for any other issue.

From there, use submenus to route the customers further. For instance, if someone presses 3 to select “billing,” they can be redirected to a simple submenu such as:

  • Press 1 to pay a bill.
  • Press 2 to check your balance.
  • Press 3 to speak to an agent.

Remember to start with the most important information when creating your IVR menu.

For instance, if you create an IVR menu for a hospital, the first message should be, “If this is a medical emergency, hang up immediately and call 911.” This way, you will ensure that emergency calls are handled properly.

Challenge #3: Lack of Human Touch

One of the main challenges of IVR systems is that they lack human touch. Despite their efficiency in automating processes, many customers still prefer speaking to a real person when it comes to getting their issues resolved.

To address this challenge, ensure that your IVR system allows customers to talk to an agent whenever they want. Callers should be able to access a live representative within the call center quickly and without any hassle.

advanced call routing

You can also use a hybrid technology system combining AI and human agents. For instance, you can use automated bots to handle simple inquiries while leaving the more complicated ones for human agents.

But that is not all. Ensure you use a friendly and natural voice for your IVR system.

Prioritize providing empathy and reassurance to the caller and have an option that allows them to opt out of the IVR if they want. Don’t tie your caller down and limit their options.

Challenge #4: Ineffective Call Routing

One of the most important functions of IVR is routing callers to the right resource or agent without the help of a human operator.

But when call routing goes wrong, it can easily turn into a disappointing experience for the caller. Plus, it can also result in wasted time on the part of the call center agent.

For instance, say a caller selects an option to speak with a customer service representative, but they are routed to a sales agent who can’t help them with their issue. This can easily lead to dissatisfaction on the caller’s part since their query will not get resolved.

Ensure all your IVR options have clear labels and are easy to understand to facilitate effective call routing.

Also, use predictive analytics technology to analyze conversations and help route callers to the right resources. This will help reduce incorrect routing and waste of time for both customers and agents.

Challenge #5: IVR Downtime

Nothing is more damaging to an IVR than design errors or downtime. These issues portray your business as unprofessional and prevent customers from contacting your team.

The result? Lost customers and revenue.

Testing is critical to ensuring your IVR system is good to go. Pay attention to stress testing to see how the IVR performs when put under heavy loads. This will give you a clear picture of what to expect when the call volumes spike.

Testing will also help you catch broken menus and identify scenarios where callers may get stuck in a never-ending loop.

7 Common IVR Challenges and How to Solve Them

In fact, it is better to delay the launch of your IVR system than launch something that won’t keep up with your business demands.

Consider using intelligent IVR to deal with the issue of downtime. These systems prevent downtime by using cloud technology. Cloud-based systems are more efficient and can easily handle large call volumes.

You should also update your system regularly with the latest features, bug fixes, and security patches. This will help keep it running smoothly even during times of high call volume.

Finally, ensure you have a backup plan in case of any unexpected downtime or technical issues. A reliable disaster recovery plan will help you get your IVR system up and running quickly, even during an emergency.

Challenge #6: Insufficient Self-service Options

Many clients call businesses with relatively straightforward queries or actions they can easily solve with self-service.

Research shows that at least 81% of customers attempt to resolve their issues with the help of a self-service option before requesting to speak to an agent.

So, if you fail to provide sufficient self-service options on your IVR menu, it could lead to unnecessarily long calls that may frustrate your callers.

Let us assume a caller needs to pay their bill. It will be much easier and more convenient to have them use an automated self-service option on your IVR menu than put them on hold and then connect them with a caller center agent to pass the payment information to them verbally.

The best way to address this challenge is to understand your customers’ needs and what they might need assistance with.

Then create an IVR menu that provides a selection of self-service options for those tasks, such as scheduling appointments, making payments, accessing account information, etc.

This way, you can ensure that customers get the help they need without waiting on hold. Providing a wide range of self-service options also frees your agents to handle more complex inquiries.

Challenge #7: Security Concerns

IVRs are designed to store confidential customer data such as bank account numbers and addresses.

With the rise of cybercrime, ensuring that your IVR systems are secure and compliant with industry regulations is important.

One way to ensure your IVR system is secure is by using data encryption technology. Encrypted data will be unreadable if intercepted by unauthorized individuals, thus protecting customer information from potential security breaches.

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Moreover, you should also require callers to authenticate their identity through a PIN or password before accessing sensitive information. This will ensure that only the authorized caller can access their personal information.

Check and monitor your IVR system regularly for any suspicious activity. This will help you detect any potential security issues quickly and take the necessary steps to address them.


An effective IVR system can drastically improve your customer service experience. By addressing these challenges, you can ensure that your IVR system is working optimally to help deliver great experiences to your customers.

Use natural language processing, customer-centric voice user interface (VUI), simple and intuitive menus, hybrid technology systems that combine AI and human agents, and effective call routing for an optimized IVR system.

The primary objective is to ensure your customers have an uninterrupted and seamless experience when using your IVR system.

At PALO, we strive to ensure all our pay-per-call campaigns adhere to IVR best practices. We are experts at generating quality pay-per-call leads that turn into long-term clients for your business.

Contact us today to learn about our pay-per-call offers and how they can help you achieve your business goals.