Interactive voice response, or IVR as it is known, has been around for some time. The IVR solution is considered a perfect self-service system that enables businesses to reduce the workload on their employees. Know about what the IVR system is, how it works, which type to choose and how to make it work for you.
What is IVR?
The development of IVR systems goes back to the 1970s when the dial mode was in use with landline phones. However, there was little progress until the 1980s when hardware evolution made it easier for IVRs to be adopted into the business. Today’s phones usually have a touchpad, making it easier for recipients to press the appropriate key. It uses DTMF tones generated through key presses to initiate further action. IVR is an automated system in which a caller receives a response in the form of a pre-recorded voice message that prompts the caller to press certain numerals in order to initiate certain processes. It helps to manage inbound calls and reduce the load on employees besides providing a measure of self-service.
How does IVR work?
A phone system such as an IP PBX can be set up with an IVR system. In this case, when an inbound call arrives, it goes into the IVR. The IVR plays back a recorded message that includes prompts to press certain keys to get desired response. There is also an option for the caller to press a key to be able to talk with a human agent.
Different types of IVR
Modern IVR solutions are diversified with different options on the type and complexity of the IVR.
Simple single tree-branch structure: Your IVR solution provider will program the IVR with a voice recording and a simple tree-branch structure.
Complex multi-level structure: A corporate entity may have different branches and divisions. In this case, the complex multi-level structure IVR is employed. A caller has presented a primary set of voice prompts. On pressing a certain key further prompts are presented and so on.
Speech recognition IVR
With today’s text-to-speech and speech recognition technologies, you will come across IVR systems that allow callers to respond by talking rather than key presses. You could have an AI-powered chatbot to converse with callers, enhancing their experience.
Dynamic IVR: The drawback of most IVRs is that the prompt process becomes lengthy and frustrating. Callers have to go through many key presses and cannot find a short-cut to the service they want or the person they wish to talk to. Dynamic IVR allows users to configure their own menu system based on feedback.
The visual IVR: The number of mobile phone users has jumped from 2.5 billion in 2016 to 3.5 billion in 2020. Visual IVR is great for use on smartphones that have a display. Instead of listening to voice prompts, the screen displays the menu structure and users can simply tap on the option they need. That makes it easy to use IVR.
Purposes to which IVR can be put
The IVR can be a simple self-service tool to provide information to callers or to route them to the concerned department. It can also be used for other purposes such as:
Booking tickets: Booking a ticket for the cinema or train or flight is easy now with IVR booking. You dial the number, follow the prompt and book the ticket. You receive an SMS confirming the booking and a code you can use.
IVR payments: Utilities, banks, insurance companies, and businesses that wish to receive payments online can configure IVR with payment gateways. One can set up the IVR to send out a reminder, for instance. The caller receives the message and an option to initiate payment. When he does so, he is guided through key prompts to make the payment through a secure gateway. On completion of the transaction, the IVR system sends a confirmation email and SMS. Some people like it because credit card details cannot be stolen or misused.
Campaigns: You can set up an IVR solution with a dialer, voice recorder, and SMS broadcast or voice broadcast solution to run campaigns and surveys. The Dialer and IVR work together to send out calls automatically at a prescheduled time, detect if human answers or a machine answers, and deliver the appropriate message. In case there is a response it goes into the CRM or to an agent to handle.
The IVR system is a must-have for any business, small or large and it is best when integrated with your IP PBX and CRM. Get a smart IVR from a reputed vendor who will customize it for you.