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When to Let IVR Callers Barge In
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When to Let IVR Callers Barge In

March 07, 2012

  By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Your mother told you it's not polite to barge in. However, as you learned, sometimes it's useful and necessary. Like when you're listening to an IVR menu list 17 options and you know you want one of the first two, and the list is on No. 4 and you want it to start over.

When it comes to voice systems, "barge in" is "the ability to interrupt a system prompt with voice or DTMF input," according to a collateral from IVR experts Angel. It's particularly useful for changing system settings for the Voice User Interface designer.

The paper outlines areas for consideration when it comes to using barge-in capability.

The caller's level of experience with the system: Are the callers, or at least a high percentage of them, going to be repeat users, and be familiar with the call flow? Give them barge-in. If it's a system where the normal caller is a first-time caller, it's probably better to leave barge-in off and let them understand how the system works first.

But if it's a regular caller who knows she wants Option No. 7 on a list, let her say that as soon as the list starts rolling. Newbies need to hear all the options the first couple times.

The call environment: This is surprisingly often overlooked in setting up voice systems, but if your application "is accessed from noisy environments," as Angel says, like a street or factory floor, first you want to set your sensitivity level appropriately on the system, and deactivate barge-in, since background noise will prompt the system, much to your caller's annoyance.

What prompt is the system using? If it's a no match or no input, turn barge-in off, Angel recommends, so the user can hear the system say ,"Sorry, didn't get that," and ?listen to the instructions again instead of giving a wrong answer again. Barge-in should also be disabled during confirmation prompts, and content feed prompts, which is when the system offers what the person wants -- bank balances, flight times, etc. Keep it off during ads and disclaimers as well, for obvious reasons.

Now when it comes to selection prompts, usually barge-in can be on, since the caller will choose the option he wants when he hears it, but sometimes you want them to hear all options. In this case alert the caller, whether barge-in is on or off that he or she can make a selection at any time."

What's the conversational context? Keep barge-in off at the beginning of the application, during the greeting and instructions, unless you have overwhelmingly repeat callers. And keep them off during transitions as well.


Edited by Tammy Wolf
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