The technology of the IVR or “Interactive Voice Response” involves computers that interact with callers using DTMF tone input through phone keypads. The IVR technology lets a given company’s customers interact with the host system of the company through speech recognition or through the keypad of a telephone, and through this, do their enquiries through the instructions given by the dialogue recorded in the IVR. The instructions on how customers can then proceed are then provided by the IVR system through an audio feed that is either dynamically generated or prerecorded.
IVR can be utilised to control most functions wherein it is possible to break down the interface into several simple interactions. IVR can be used in networks that handle a large amount of calls per day.
Automobiles can also take advantage and use IVRs to assist in hands-free operations. There are applications in satellite navigation and audio as well as mobile phones.
The term IVR has been commonly used by many industries for automated attendants. Traditional professionals in the telecommunications industry do not recognise the interchangeability of these two terms, but younger professionals do use the term IVR to denote any type of telephone menu, including automated attendants. VRU (or “Voice Response Units”) has also been used.
Benefits of IVR
Voice automation and IVR services can let a company dramatically improve its financial efficiency and customer service. IVR systems eliminate the need to hire employees to handle the calls and queries. Queries can also be designated to the proper department automatically.
Although live agents are still required to serve as telephone operators, much of their work is severely reduced by the IVR system, and this lets them handle more demanding tasks. They also handle the needs of callers and customers who cannot be classified into departments or services, and thus live agents only get to take calls that really require the assistance of a fully functioning human.
Types of assistance that require live agents include sales talk, resolution of problems and issues, maintenance of customers, and other interactions too complex for automated machines.
Both the customer and agent get more experience: the customer acquires personalised service, and the agent gets to handle enquiries beyond simple data acquisition or queries requiring simple yes-and-no answers. Before the advent of such automated systems, live agents have complained that all they do the whole day is answer mundane yes-or-no questions which take away the dynamism and joy out of their work. Their professional growth is stunted, and they often get dissatisfied with their jobs.
Organisations and Businesses Which Can Use IVR
Businesses receiving a high number of calls benefit significantly from IVR systems. It also reduces company costs from hiring customer service representatives. IVR systems also generally improve the calling experience of customers.
Call centers, credit card companies, banks, and other companies that have wide market coverage can be adequately served by an IVR application. An IVR service can also let a company convert its customer call service from a 9-5 operation into a 24/7 service. Organisations that conduct public polls and surveys, as well as automated voting in television shows, can and do use IVRs.
Uses of IVR
Call centers can segment and identify callers with the use of IVR systems. This has the advantage of tailoring the services given to particular customers that fit their individual or market profile. The caller can be provided with options such as choosing automated services, requesting call-back or waiting in queue.
IVR systems can employ thousands of call applications to route customer calls to the appropriate language and application. Each of these applications has its own script and its own number. IVR can also prioritise customers according to their needs, moving specific customers to the top of the queue depending on the reason and nature of their calls.
An IVR system can also give the impression to customers that the company is a large business even if it is not. An example of this is that rerouting a call to a supposed Sales division and a supposed Support department will give a customer the impression that the company has a large staff, when in fact there is only one person handling both calls.
IVR systems can also be useful for collecting data from calls, useful for audits, performance reports, and system enhancements in the future. For instance, this can be used to appropriately direct an inquiry to the proper department or agent. The information can be transferred to the screen of the agent, so that information about the caller need not be asked over and over again during subsequent calls. It is also useful for verifying the identity of the caller by asking private information stored in the database.
In surveys, IVRs can be used by organisations to ask sensitive questions which respondents might be hesitant to divulge to a real live interviewer. Examples are details about history of drug use, sexual predilections or preferences and similar questions. This can result in more accurate and honest survey data. Hospitals also utilise IVRs to give callers access to results of medical tests, providing relative anonymity and avoiding potential embarrassment to patients. Callers are given an access code. IVR can also assist clinical trials and medical research and surveys conducted by pharmaceutical and research organisations that manage a large amount of data.
Televoting is one of the largest users of IVR platforms, particularly for game shows that generate thousands of calls. The network provider for these shows usually deploys what is called call gapping in its PSTN in order to avoid overload.
Other uses include automation of routine inquiries through voice activated dial functions to reduce the waiting time of callers. An added function of this system is enabling callers to page recipients and routing their calls to that recipient. IVR systems can also be used for making outbound calls.
Other uses for IVR systems in mobile phones include account funding, registrations, purchases, logos, ringtones, and similar functions. In banks, they are used for fund transfers, payments and deposits, account balances, and transaction history inquiry. Businesses can also let IVR systems handle the tasks of booking orders and flights as well as handling payments of credit cards. Information on traffic and weather conditions has also long been utilising IVR systems.
Requirements in setting up an IVR system
For leveraging or delivering IVR, one should have hardware and software platforms. These must be able to play recorded prompts and gather inputs. Some can have voice recognition and text translation, as well as call transfer capabilities. IVR applications logically are included, which will depend on the functions needed by the user. Servers are also important from which the database and other solutions are centrally connected to.
Phone infrastructure is essential as well, which connects with the platform on one end and the call switch equipment on the other. The latter includes VOIPs (Voice Over IP phone systems), PBXs and Telco switches, among others.
The human component is of course a must for integrating and configuring the IVR system to maintain it and develop applications.
Third party providers are available to provide services for setting up an IVR. Some companies provide platforms entirely based on IP and web standards. These platforms can either be purchased or platforms in hosting facilities may be used for a fee. It is recommended to have providers that use CCXML and VoiceXML markup for healthy IVR applications, to take advantage of web experience and infrastructure.
It is recommended to get a platform that takes care of premise implementations, and which works smoothly with PBXs, VoIPs, call centers, and Telco switches. It should also integrate with many of the call center’s top platforms. A third party provider should also have a reliable technical support and customer care.
When one has already set up an IVR system, it is time to record menus and prompts. Unless the equipment and expertise are there, it is always wiser to hire a specialist business sound company that have extensive marketing and technical experience that they can apply to the script. Their innate experience and extensive interaction with past clients should make them a leader in phrasing the right words that has clarity and the right marketing approach. Professional companies can also record crisp and clear voice prompts that are recorded by radio and TV voice, drama and acting professionals in a real studio. For pristine IVR scripting and recordings which professionally and clearly best direct callers for the desired outcomes, Evolved Sound has you covered.