system lets callers interact with your company via the telephone. A business will typically implement a system to handle customer inquiries. An interactive voice response system can also be very effective for companies with on-the-road employees who need to call into the office to receive their next assignment or to report their activities.
IVR systems, which reportedly lower customer handling costs to about 25 cents per call, can be implemented in a variety of ways. With a basic system, you simply record a message that is played when a person hits the appropriate number on the telephone keypad.
More advanced IVR systems allow callers to retrieve customized information. A system with text-to-speech recognition, for example, can read aloud information that is stored in a database. Using this functionality, you can set up a system that retrieves account-specific information, like order status. Systems can be further enhanced to actually process orders or store information from the callers.
“A key benefit of using IVR for a lead generation strategy is that it can work for you 24/7,” writes Datatel Communications CEO Barnard Crespi. “The ability to activate your pre-approved auto loan certificate or apply for a mortgage pre-approval, are just some examples.IVR allows you to engage with consumers and process your leads 24/7 over the telephone, and leads are delivered to you in real-time.”
The latest systems are not limited to the keypad for entry. Using a feature called speech recognition, callers can interact with the phone system by speaking their choices aloud instead of having to enter information via the keypad. This interface improvement makes IVR much more user friendly.
When choosing an IVR system, you will of course need to identify the basic functionality that you want. When defining those needs, base it on your current data environment to project a realistic implementation. You will also need to choose the platform that you want to use to develop your system. Both proprietary and open systems exist. In addition, you will need to decide whether you want to buy a system or outsource it to a service that can provide all the IVR capability you need without the investment.