A couple years ago, the website GetHuman.com (which specializes in giving consumers hints on how to bypass IVR systems) published the GetHuman Standard, a set of recommendations on how to serve customers better over the phone.
Since then, the Standard pretty much disappeared beneath the waves with barely a ripple. So it was surprising when the question came up on the VUI Designers list (a forum for people who design IVR systems) of whether VUI designers should endorse the GetHuman standard.
Personally, I don't have strong feelings about the GetHuman Standard. There are some very sensical ideas in it, but I think the notion that companies will voluntarily embrace it is naive.
The really interesting thing is that the question of endorsing the Standard--after being moribund for so long--even came up in a serious way.
I think that most VUI designers are hardworking and well-intentioned professionals who often feel very frustrated when they are forced by business requirements to design systems which they know customers will hate.
Unfortunately, VUI designers getting behind the GetHuman standard isn't likely to solve the problem, even if most of the ideas should be part of any common-sense checklist of good customer service ideas. Instead, companies will have to perceive customer service as an important part of their total product or service offering, and consumers will have to make buying decisions based on service quality.