Interactive Voice Response [IVR]
The IVR or Interactive Voice Response is an automated telephony system that interacts with callers, gathers information, and routes inbound calls to the appropriate recipients without the need for human intervention. The system accepts a combination of voice telephone input and touch-tone keypad selection and provides the appropriate responses in the form of a voice, callback, email, and other contact methods.
What is IVR system and how it works?
The Interactive Voice Response system automatically answers all incoming calls from a specified inbound call route and plays a prerecorded message. The callers are given a choice to select options by pressing digits, sending the caller to the appropriate action/response according to the digit pressed. For example: ‘Press 1 for the Sales department, press 2 for Customer Service’.
With advances in voice recognition, many businesses move to systems where the caller can say what they are calling about, and the system can route them appropriately.
The history of Interactive Voice Response Systems
IVR was first developed in the early 70’s, and the first IVR system was linked to an inventory control database for internal use, but it wasn’t until the 90’s when rudimentary IVRs began to appear. Due to limitations in digital technology, these first IVR systems were limited to DTMF. Over time, as processors and memory increased, IVRs were able to perform more complex queries as we know them today.
DTMF is the term for using a phone’s touch-tone keypad to select responses to IVR systems. Many IVRs still use this exclusively.
Benefits of using IVR Systems
The benefits of having an Interactive Voice Response system:
- IVR systems can generally handle and service high volumes of incoming calls making them very popular among companies with a high proportion of customer inquiries.
- The system allows you to record customized greetings and prompts for a personalized customer experience. With customer experience being all about the quality of your customer’s exposure to your company, this initial encounter can make or break the relationship.
- IVR reduces operational costs by reducing human resources and resolving issues faster – callers are immediately directed to the sales team or department most capable of giving the correct answer.
- It allows for 24/7 customer service, which automatically heightens the customer experience.
Different types of IVRs
A self-service IVR typically requires little or no human intervention. Through key presses and voice prompts, callers can perform routine operations or inquires by themselves. For example, updates, changes, account status, and payment submission.
In contrast to the self-service IVR, agent-assisted IVR systems require human intervention. By pressing a key or voice prompts, calls are routed directly to a department within the company. Consequently, the agent-assisted system can also be multi-level by routing the calls further to specific support subcategories.
Key presses and voice prompts can take callers to extensions, call queues, and ring groups. They can also lead to another IVR system, which, in turn, depending on the caller’s actions, might take the caller to yet another IVR, whether it is a specific support queue or an automated IVR payment system. This can be useful for determining which product or service a caller is calling about.
The IVR automated callbacks is a feature that allows a caller to choose to be called back rather than wait on hold in the phone queue. Generally, callers will not lose their place in the queue when this feature is selected.
In companies with high customer inquiries, callbacks assist busy agents and provide an extra level of service to customers who encounter wait times.
The importance of choosing the right voice for your IVR system
Your IVR system can easily be the first interaction between a new customer and your business, so it will also be the voice that presents your company’s profile. A voice expresses the culture, values, and identity of your business. Dialect, voice, tone, and speed are all crucial to creating a positive first impression of your business.