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November 9, 2013

Interactive Voice Response is a technology that allows a computer to interact with human beings through the use of voice and DTMF tones. IVR allows the customers to interact with the company’s host system through configurable voice menus, using DTMF tones in real-time.

In an IVR system, callers are given the choice to select options from configurable voice menus by pressing digits. By pressing the digits on the telephone keypad sends the DTMF tone to the hosted system which then selects the appropriate option according to the digit pressed.

Interactive Voice Response systems are mainly intended to service high call volumes, reduce cost and improve the customer experience. The typical IVR applications are telephone banking, credit card services, flight schedule information, office call routing, mobile such as ringtones, balance enquiry, call center forwarding etc. Companies also use IVR services to extend their business to 24/7 operation and also allows their customers to get the information they need 24/7 without the need of human agents. If callers do not able find the information they need or require further assistance, their calls are often transferred to agents. This makes for a more efficient system in which agents have more time to deal with complex interactions.

Benefits:

The primary benefit of IVR is the savings compared to hiring staff to handle boring and repetitive tasks. Automating basic customer service functions make sense in situations where the task is relatively simple and the input and output values can be conveyed by phone.

Another benefit is the unlimited hours that an IVR system can put in each day. With a properly configured IVR system your company can offer top notch customer service even when closed for the evening or weekend. IVR systems can easily support multiple languages, allowing your business to service international markets abroad and multi-lingual customers at home.

Criticism:

Sometimes IVR is criticized as being unhelpful and difficult to use due to poor design and lack of appreciation of the caller’s needs.

Some callers prefer speaking with a human respondent so they object to providing voice response to an automated system. Companies have also been criticized for using IVR to reduce operational costs but not offering similar services using agents. Such methods tend to frustrate customers who feel that their right to speak to an agent is being restricted. Examples of services criticized in this way include debt recovery (phone balance deduction, transaction charges etc.) and giveaways (concert tickets, satellite/cable receivers, etc).

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