I was just complaining today to some friends that IVR systems (interactive voice recognition, or, the annoying female voice who ‘answers’ the phone and tries to direct you to the correct department when you call your credit card company) need some guidelines because it seems like every system does things just a little bit differently–enough to annoy the heck out of me. Well, lo and behold, google knows. Here is a paper on the topic and here’s a coffee talk on the topic by a former coworker (today must be a day for references to former coworkers).
Some of my frustrations with IVR systems are due to the very market forces that drive companies to use them (making it hard to reach an operator helps when trying to cut labor costs) and some are due to limitations on audio as an information conveyance (typically, reading is quicker than listening).
Updated Sep 12 2006 with correct link and tags.