In telecommunications, 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”.
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 televoting in some shows such as American Idol. In recent years, automated payments over these voice response systems are becoming popular.
Due to proliferation of cloud-based services, systems hosted in the cloud allows smaller business to appear more professional while still allowing them to filter in real-time incoming calls and concerns.