The Customer Service Survey

Forced Authentication

by Peter Leppik on Mon, 2012-02-13 15:48

Doing a deep dive on the National Customer Service Survey on Banks we recently discovered a startling fact: in our survey, of customers who reported a problem with their bank's IVR, 20% of the time the problem was somehow related to authentication. For example:

  • Nonsensical Authentication: The customer was required to enter an account number to find the hours of a branch.
  • Impossible Authentication: The customer was calling to report a lost or stolen card, and did not have his account number readily available.
  • Technical Failures: The customer gave a valid account number and PIN, but the system didn't recognize it--either because of a speech recognition problem or because of some other failure
  • Prospective Customers: A prospective customer wants information, but is asked to enter an account number first.

In all, these problems affected about 5% of all the people calling one of the four large banks in our survey. 5% may not sound like a lot, but it represents tens of thousands of customers every day who have to call back, don't get what they want, and have a negative view of their bank as a result. It also represents millions of dollars in expenses to these four companies due to repeat customer calls and unneeded time with a live agent.

So why does this happen? I believe it's because these IVR systems were designed from the company's perspective, not from the customer's perspective. The company decided that it would be helpful for them to know the customer's account number, and so they ask for it even when it makes the customer's experience worse.

The solution is to ask how the company can best serve the customer, not how the customer can be helpful to the company.

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