A telephony technology allowing users to interact via voice or keypad commands, IVR
saves money and employee resources, while at the same time making inquiries and services available 24/7.
IVR systems are a part of our daily lives--we use them to check bank balances, manage credit cards, check store hours or locations, order medicine, etc. Because IVR permits limited access to the database, direct personal interaction is not required. That said, there could be an option to be switched to an operator, usually during business hours. IVR systems can be used for reporting non-emergency problems to cable or utility services, as well as to make appointments.
Pollsters, campaigns and survey takers make use of IVR systems, which in these cases usually place outgoing calls. A recorded voice makes queries and can process simple answers, such as "yes," "no," or "undecided." The system may have only limited access to built-in voice recognition; this depends on the application's requirements. Answers could be entered via the keypad as well. This kind of automation allows organizations to reach many more people than would be possibly by simply manning the phones.
Usually, IVR systems are in-house installations, but there also exist "outsourced solution providers" (OSPs). These providers integrate the system through the client's network, but maintain it on their own premises. OSP solutions possess both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are avoidance of new IVR infrastructure installation, as well as an IVR-savvy staff . Disadvantages include a template or feature-set that might be incompatible with your business model , as well as allowing the system to control critical functions.
The public often criticizes badly designed IVR systems for failing to provide the proper assistance. The goal design of any IVR system should be to get the customer what he or she needs in as few steps as possible while allowing for security and logistical needs.
Brian Solomon is a Web Editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To see more of his articles, please visit Brian Solomon’s columnist page.
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