This CNN article describes the frustration of homeowners who reach a recorded message when they call banks regarding foreclosure. I cringed at the homeowner's exasperation with the "automated lady," because I know how frustrating the situation is. The callers need to talk to a person but the banks are using a simple IVR to keep customers away rather than using the IVR to serve them. I can just imagine the chipper "automated lady" persona starting her greeting with pain-enducing phrase "Your call is important to us..."
The banks have resorted to a conventional solution to an unprecedented situation - play a recorded message and drop the callers into a queue. I understand that the number of calls and average call times are overwhelming the call centers, but there are much better uses of the technology. For example, you can use automated call backs to let the customers go about their business rather than forcing them to stay on the line.
There's really a huge opportunity here for an IVR integration company to help banks, if they can get into the banks and talk to managers about solutions. If anyone in an overworked bank call center wants to find a way to make their IVR help with their workload, contact me.