Phoning Call Centres? Get through their menus quickly

Companies forced to standardise Phone Menus under EU Law

MEPs and the Council of the European Union have agreed that all companies will be obliged to remove or standardise their phone menus (technically known as IVRs) to provide an easier phone menu navigation throughout Europe as part of a provisional deal on creating a common and less frustrating customer experience and saving an estimated 1.4bn in call costs and time wasted.

Finally harmonising the Customer Experience. The draft directive is aimed at harmonising the design of what was recently voted "the most frustrating invention of all time". Such was the frustration of one man, Nigel Clarke of Kent, England that he took on the big companies and named and shamed the worst culprits of bad phone menus on his website Please Press 1. His campaign  to improve standards was highlighted by the BBC and received great publicity and support from thousands of frustrated consumers as he demonstrated the public time and money frequently wasted by poor IVR design.

Other EU Laws have been ridiculed. Badly designed phone menus are a global problem and this recent directive reflects a strong EU desire to standardise products and services which offer real benefits to the public after much bad press in recent years with such laws that "Bananas should not be too bendy", "Prunes are not laxatives" and that "Eggs cannot be sold by the dozen". Business Insider actually invited their readers to "Guess Which of These Crazy EU Laws Are Actually Real".

"Official" UK dialects list to cause political storm.  MEPs are keen not only to simplify the design of phone menus but will also seek to tackle voice or speech recognition systems. They aim to standardise them to meet requirements to recognise an initial 104 regional dialects across the EU member states, including 14 in the UK alone. MEPS have appointed a committee to identify and agree the "official 14 UK dialects" and with the decision expected just before the next election in May, it is expected to become a major political issue amongst the parties, especially in the marginal seats in areas which are excluded from the list.

Law expected to generate positive change. Clarke of PleasePress1 said "Speech recognition is becoming an even bigger issue than phone menus. However, this EC agreement is unbelievable and a major step forward for customer service, it's an absolute dream. Even though my campaign has provoked many companies to make improvements already, I hope that they don't wait for the legislation to come in before they take further action as their customers aren't fools and as my survey has indicated, 76% will vote with their feet." 

Creative reproduced with permission and additional links. Published 1/4/15. For further details and information on how to make improvements to your phone menu design to meet required standards please contact us.


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