Interactive voice responses (IVR) System

Interactive voice responses (IVR) is a system that allows customers to interact with a computer by either voice or “touch” tones generated via keypad input. IVR systems are often accompanied by prerecorded audio to direct customers through their “menus”.

IVR System
In businesses that experience heavy volumes of calls, IVR systems can help reduce costs by limiting the need for more inbound agents to handle simple inquiries from customers. Additionally, it increases first-contact resolution with customers and drives down important metrics. Some prestigious certification standards, like the J. D. Power Certification, consider the requirement for any contact center and rates the businesses accordingly to the ease-of-use and coverage their phone system provides their customers.
Common uses for IVR
Any automated voice system that a caller encounters can be classified as an IVR. When calling a hospital, for example, a voice system that asks the user to either input an extension number to a room or dial 0 for a switchboard operator can already be classified as an Interactive Voice Response system. A more common example is employed by a business contact center asking a customer to dial a number that corresponds to their area of concern. The phone system will then place the call into the correct queue. This ensures that the customer is handled by the most qualified person for his concern.
Because choices in are straightforward and there is very little complexity for users to encounter, it is also used as survey tools (using touch tones to answer questions or rate items) or for tele-voting in some shows such as American Idol. In recent years, automated payments over these voice response systems are becoming popular.
How Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Works?
  • IVR systems are an example of computer-telephone integration (CTI). The most common way for a phone to communicate with a computer is through the tones generated by each key on the telephone keypad. These are known as dual-tone multi-frequency(DTMF) signals.
  • Each number key on a telephone emits two simultaneous tones: one low-frequency and one high-frequency.
  • A computer needs special hardware called a telephony board or telephony card to understand the DTMF signals produced by a phone.
  • A simple IVR system only requires a computer hooked up to a phone line through a telephony board and some inexpensive IVR software.
  • The IVR software allows you to pre-record greetings and menu options that a caller can select using his telephone keypad.
  • More advanced IVR systems include speech-recognition software that allows a caller to communicate with a computer using simple voice commands.
  • Speech recognition software has become sophisticated enough to understand names and long strings of numbers – perhaps a credit card or flight number.
On the other end of the phone call, an organization can employ text-to-speech (TTS) software to fully automate its outgoing messages. Instead of recording all of the possible responses to a customer query, the computer can generate customized text-like account balances or flight times and read it back to the customer using an automated voice.

A company or organization can choose to purchase all of this hardware and software and run it in-house, or it can subscribe to an IVR-hosting service. A hosting service charges a monthly fee to use its servers and IVR software. The hosting service helps the organization customize an IVR system that best fits its needs and provides technical support should anything go wrong.

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