At some point, every call must end, as must every conversation. Analyses of conversations shows that they follow a pattern that includes an opening and a closing (Clark, 1996, 2004).

A normal human conversation ends with both parties acknowledging its end, and saying "Goodbye" or its equivalent to each other. If it happens to be a telephone conversation, both parties will then disconnect. Someone who disconnects without saying anything will be perceived as rude or angry (or both).

Consequently, if an IVR application is going to disconnect a call, it's important to play a goodbye message. The content of that message should be relevant to the events that have preceded the system decision to disconnect.

To maintain an appropriate service provider to customer tone, IVRs should never just hang up. Also, the IVR should give the caller permission to hang up at the end of an interaction. Some callers, especially if they have accessed personal information, will feel the need to "log out" of their account and end the interaction gracefully. Therefore, once the caller has completed a self-service activity, the IVR should play a prompt such as "If you're finished, simply hang up.... Otherwise...." and could then proceed to offer the caller different choices about what they might do next.

If a caller has successfully completed a self-service activity and has indicated no desire to do anything else with the IVR, a simple goodbye message will suffice (e.g., "Thanks for calling XYZ customer care. Goodbye!").

If the system is going to disconnect due to processing problems and cannot transfer the caller to an agent, then the goodbye message should provide an appropriate apology and apologetic tone.

If the disconnection is due to repeated no-inputs from the caller, the goodbye message should state this, again using an appropriately apologetic tone. It's reasonable in this situation to recommend that the caller try again (hoping for a better connection).


Clark, H. H. (1996). Using language. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Clark, H. H. (2004). Pragmatics of language performance. In L. R. Horn & G. Ward (Eds.), Handbook of pragmatics (pp. 365–382). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.