The Ins and Outs of Interactive Voice Response Technology
If you work in a call center, you are likely familiar with interactive voice response (IVR) software. IVR is a tool most call centers rely on, but one that is not always fully understood. This article outlines IVR capabilities, the technologies IVR uses, what is needed to set it up, and how IVR benefits the companies that choose to use it.
What IVR Can Do
IVRs more or less replace receptionists. The technology consists of a computerized system that answers inbound calls and routes them to the appropriate line within an office or retrieves information from a database. An IVR has a recording that initially greets inbound callers and directs them to a list of menu options to choose from. The menu options save a caller time by narrowing down the possible reasons for their call, and then directs them to the most appropriate party within a company.
In addition to routing calls, an IVR can retrieve information from a database. For example, many banks employ the use of IVR software to make it possible for customers to call in and check the balance of their accounts without speaking to a banker. In this case, the IVR is retrieving information from a database to report information to the caller.
IVRs can also route calls. This is especially helpful for those employees that telecommute. IVRs can dial through various phone numbers associated with an employee to direct inbound calls to them, regardless of whether they are at the office or working from a remote location.
The technology behind IVR software not brand new and aspects of its functionality rely on innovations developed in the 1970s. However, new features continue to evolve as voice recognition software improves.
IVR is possible because of computer telephony integration (CTI) which enables a computer and a phone to exchange information. CTI allows data collected from the telephone system to be input so that databases can be queried based on caller-provided and/or customer account information. This is also what makes it possible for a computer to execute automatic dialing and call transfers.
CTI relies on dual-tone frequency signaling (DTFS) to facilitate communication between computers and phones. Computers recognize the tones made by phones when various frequencies (made by different numbers on the phone) are sounded. An inexpensive IVR system relies on a computer being linked to a phone system so it can utilize dual-tone frequency signaling. However, more expensive and modern IVR employs the use of speech recognition software.
IVR Set Up
The IVR set up depends on the kind of system a company opts to use. IVR is offered as a premise-based or hosted solution. If a company chooses to own the IVR system outright, they will have to purchase the required hardware and handle the maintenance and updating of that hardware. In addition, premise-based systems require a longer set up period.
With a hosted solution, an IVR is easier to set up. Hosted solutions require logging into a web-based dashboard to create menu options, record greetings and voice prompts, and set up the database where pertinent information is stored and accessed. Set up is relatively easy and most aspects can be up and running in less than a day.
The Impact an IVR Makes
IVR allows companies the ability to cut back on resources while presenting callers with a professional appearance. Organizations that once hired receptionists to answer phones and direct calls are able to use IVR to do the same job, every hour of the day, for one up-front fee instead of an annual salary.
For small companies, or in the case of sole proprietors working out of a home office or coffee shop, the use of IVR technology can create a polished company appearance without the overhead of adding an additional employee. What’s more, hosted IVR solutions are accessible and affordable for small businesses.
IVR technology makes it possible for large companies and small companies alike to automate a tedious yet necessary task. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get cutting-edge IVR at an affordable price. Follow our blog for continuous technology updates and call center best practices.
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