August 01, 2023
Information Insight

IVR Best Practices: Making Dollars and Sense of IVRs

What is IVR/IVA?

Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA) are a critical part of any customer service operation. They can help to automate tasks, reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction. However, to get the most out of your IVA system, IVR reporting can track and measure key performance indicators (KPIs). Our Contact Center Solutions consultants help turn your data into information with a unique methodology and set of metrics to evaluate the health and success of your Intelligent Virtual Agent (IVA). Using the metrics included in this article combined with our Information Insight Capability, your company can turn your IVA data into useful, actionable information to improve the customer experience and reduce costs.

Every business is unique and there isn’t just one KPI that proves an IVA, IVR, or chat bot is functioning well. Given these differences, Kenway recommends evaluating an IVA on KPIs that illustrate the efficiency and effectiveness of the bot that drives customer satisfaction and result in cost savings for the organization. Increases in an IVA’s efficiency, effectiveness, and customer satisfaction demonstrate improvements in performance. This indicates customers are utilizing the bot more frequently to resolve their questions and are requesting to speak with a customer service agent less often, which reduces call center costs while also improving customer support. Companies that track these KPIs will glean deeper insights into the health of IVA processes and identify opportunities for improvement.

HubSpot surveyed more than 1,000 people in the United States and found that the most popular communication channels for customer service were email (61%), phone (60%), and live chat (57%). Social media came in fourth place, with only 29% of respondents saying they prefer to contact companies through those channels. A 2017 study conducted by Microsoft found that 70% of the customers still prefer to contact customer service by phone, while 20% prefer email and only 10% prefer chat. Since 2017, email and chat have significantly increased in popularity. However, when customers cannot resolve their issue, phone support is still the preferred method of contact for most customers.

Since the voice channel is still the preferred method to resolve the most important issues the remains a key component of a company’s customer engagement, evaluating them and improving their responsiveness is smart business. For this blog we will focus mostly on IVRs and voice calls, but the same metrics can be applied to chat bots too. For the past 15 years, Kenway Consulting has helped design, implement, test, and report on an IVRs for our customers through our Contact Center Solutions practice.

For more information on our thoughts and experiences in the Contact Center world, read our blog, The Dos and Don’ts of IVR Design and our case study, Seamless IVR Solutions Mastering System Conversion & Overcoming Challenges.

KPIs to evaluate an IVR

  1. Average Call Length: This measures the average time it takes for the IVR system to handle a call from start to finish. A low average call length can indicate that the IVR system is efficient in handling customer requests and reducing wait times, while a high average call length may indicate that the IVR system is too complex or confusing for customers. According to Zendesk, the biggest frustration with virtual agents for 54% of customers is answering too many questions.
  2. Containment Rate: This measures the percentage of calls that successfully complete their intended task using the IVR system without the need for human intervention. A high containment rate indicates that the IVR system can effectively handle customer inquiries and requests, reducing the workload on live agents, improving customer satisfaction, and reducing organizational costs. According to Emplifi, 35% of customers want a complete self-service option to resolve their issue.
  3. Agent Transfer Rate: This measures the percentage of calls that are successfully routed to the appropriate department or agent based on the customer’s intent. A low agent transfer rate indicates that the IVR system is effective in understanding and interpreting customer responses and can route calls to the right agents, reducing frustration, agent Average Handle Time and wait times. A low agent transfer rate also impacts directly on Call Center costs, since customers directly reach the correct agent skill.
  4. Agent request rate: This measures how many callers request an agent during their call. Some callers will immediately request an agent and not “play” in the IVR. Callers that do play along but request an agent usually means they are confused, or the application is having trouble moving them forward. A high agent request rate indicates your solution is not effective or efficient.
  5. Call abandonment rate: This measures the percentage of calls that hang up or are disconnected from the IVR before reaching an agent or completing a self-service task. A high call abandonment rate may indicate that the IVR system is difficult to use or does not provide enough information or options to customers. Understanding both frequency and timing during the call of this KPI can help Contact Center Organizations to optimize the IVR customer experience and measure Self-Service success accurately.
  6. Customer satisfaction rating: This measures the level of satisfaction customers have with the IVR system based on their experience using it. A high customer satisfaction rating indicates that the IVR system is effective and efficient in meeting customer needs and providing a positive experience.

IVR Reporting

Expert tips for IVR Reporting

Data collection and management within your application are critical to your ability to report on the above metrics. Insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the IVA and offer opportunities to improve the customer experience and find cost savings. Specifically, companies should evaluate each prompt in their IVR and track its responsiveness to include, at each stage, the customer’s average working time and how many callers abandon, opt-out, or transfer to an agent.

Companies also should monitor the IVR’s ability to route calls in the minimum number of steps; because the sooner a caller hears the correct prompt, the sooner the customer will resolve their inquiry. Expediting the customer’s engagement with the IVR also will improve the IVR’s first call resolution which typically increases customer satisfaction.

Virtual Assistants are not often the most beloved customer service tool, but they can be immensely helpful in navigating customers to someone who can help them. Furthermore, for some businesses, a high performing IVA can be a competitive advantage. If you have an IVA with more data than information, are struggling to evaluate said IVA, or simply have an opinion on our recommended metrics, we would like to hear from you at

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