Your Guide to Interactive Voice Response (IVR) 101


Phone rings (Tring tring, tring tring, tring tring…)
A voice: Hello! Welcome to abc company. We are happy to help you! To speak to an agent press 1, to know the status of your query press 2, to lodge a complaint press 3, to return to the main menu press *
Customer (Presses 1) and waits patiently for an agent to answer, meanwhile the music keeps playing and in between there is a promotional message about a product or a service.
We all have had similar experience. The reason could have been different for all of us, but we have been on the other side of that telephone call. You dial a number, a computerised voice greets you and gives you a whole list of options to pick from and do accordingly.
That voice on the phone
This ‘voice’ and what is does is referred to as Interactive Voice Response system or IVR. Interactive voice response system forms the backbone for all contact centers.
Quoting Wikipedia, “Interactive Voice Response System or IVRS is phone technology that allows a computer to automatically detect voice and touch tones using a normal voice phone.” The objective of IVRS is to cut down customer service costs by providing self service to customers and guiding them to the department, person or information that they need.
Meet the ‘E-receptionist’
It is similar to getting in touch with someone and dialing their office number, where your call is greeted by a receptionist. Interactive voice response or IVR can be considered to be an e-receptionist, who greets your callers and makes it easy for them to navigate through your services menu. Earlier, when Interactive Voice Response was not installed and used industry wide, your callers had to face serious customer services issues, as there were long waiting hours and often no response. With the advent of this technology, you can at least be sure that your customers would not be left hanging in the middle ground and would discover ways of alternate help, as you can easily customise your messaging standards as per your business’s functioning and demands.
IVR: Setup and Applications
A typical Interactive Voice Response system requires telephony equipment, software applications, a database and a supporting infrastructure. It has many applications and the usage is also growing pretty rapidly. Some of the most common applications of IVR include the following:
–   Bank and stock account balances and transfers
–  Call center forwarding
–  Office call routing
–  Simple order entry transactions
–  Information lookup like movie bookings, restaurants etc.
Messaging platform
Interactive Voice Response makes it easy for industry operators to get a pre-recorded message across to their customers, and in turn lead to more business. Even if there is a long waiting time or holding time, and many customers are in queue for their call to be answered, IVR makes it pretty convenient to switch back and forth among variety of services your brand has to offer by intelligently using CTI (Computer telephony integration), to reach back to customer database, populate search queries and find the best possible remedy.

From brick and mortar to click and mortar

With IVRs coming into market, and establishing a stronghold, it did take the call center with storm. Now, there are many different add ons and improvements available on this existing technology model. It has moulded the contact center industry from brick and mortar to click and mortar. Enhancements like speech enabled interactive voice response, speech recognition interactive voice response and what not. The technology in this space is exceeding its expectations and adding more feathers to this hat of customer services experience.
After all, happy customers pave way for happier business standards.
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