What is Interactive Voice Response (IVR)?

What is Interactive Voice Response (IVR)?

What is Interactive Voice Response (IVR)? customer support

Interactive Voice Response (IVR system) is probably the part of your CTI integration that is most recognized by your callers. It is the voice response system that interacts with them when they call. It is also your first chance to make a good impression.

The technology uses voice and keypad DTMF tone input to communicate with your host system. Through this interaction, you can get information from your callers and route their calls to the intended recipient. As with the rest of your CTI system, you can do an IVR integration with CRM, and other business systems integration. The goal is to make calls as efficient, information-driven, and personalized as possible. The key to this is having IVR system configured correctly and efficiently.

So, What is IVR Interactive Voice Response, Really?

To your clients, prospects and other callers, your IVR system is the perceptible side of your CTI integration. It is made up of your telephone system, software, databases, network and other support infrastructure.

Call centers were the first to use interactive voice response technology in the 1970s, although it wasn’t quite as we know it today. They used DSP technology, which had very small vocabularies. The move to the modern-day IVR system didn’t begin until the late 1990s, when call centers had to dealing a lot with multimedia communications.

Because of the sheer mass of calls, it became crucial to have an efficient and intelligent queueing and routing system in place. The solution used DTMP signaling and speaker-independent voice recognition.

By the 2000s, owing to the migration to the VXML standard and more powerful computing systems, this became cheaper and easier to deploy.

IVR System VS Automated Attendant

Take note, an IVR system is different from an automated attendant. An attendant just routes calls. An IVR system, on the other hand, takes and processes information before responding.

The response isn’t always call routing. It can be in the form of a pre-recorded voice response, fax tone, callback, automated email and the like. The caller can their check account status and other details, without necessitating the intervention of an actual agent.

The key difference is intelligence. An automated attendant routes your call based on your selection, usually after you punch in the person’s extension number. An IVR system goes above and beyond. You could say that it gets to know you first, as well as your exact purpose for calling. Once you are routed to a human agent, the call recipient knows enough about what you need. Calls can be more personalized and to the point, saving the caller and your team time.

IVR Interactive Voice Response Usage

An IVR system is perfect for businesses that deal with high call volumes. It is a good way to cut down costs and call processing time. It also improves the caller’s experience.

Because it patches into your databases, queries can be attended without human intervention. An example is when you call your credit card provider to inquire about your payment. Unless you have billing issues, basic queries can be handled by the IVR system.

The voice response system can also gather relevant information prior to call routing. Callers can be authenticated, their location identified and their calls segmented accordingly.

This results in better-handled calls. Information is readily available to agents. Callers are classified according to their concerns; and their issues are handled by qualified agents. This has proven to make positive differences in several industries, such as:

Call Center: IVR evolved because of call centers. After all, an industry centered on calls has to make their processes efficient and cost-effective.

Banking: 24/7 banking is made possible by IVRs. The technology usually handles basic queries and operations, such as password changes. Human agents come in for emergencies and other issues.

Telecommunications: For phone companies that provide voice and data services nationwide, dealing with user issues 24/7 is standard. IVRs improve their client engagement. It makes tech and billing support available all day, every day; thus, reducing the subscriber’s woes.

What Can You Do With Your IVR System?

Regardless of your business’ size, you can enjoy the benefits of an optimized IVR system. Here are some ways of using your voice response system.

Personalize the caller experience.
Record customized messages and prompts. Address your caller by their title and name. Instead of the robotic automated attendant asking your caller to “press one for this or that,” engage with them. Get more specific information before routing their call.

Gather data and respond accordingly.
Not all calls require human intervention. You can know this by gathering ample information from the caller. This ranges from basics, such as type of support they require, account number and password. You can have your IVR system inquire about the call’s purpose. You can respond through call routing, pre-recorded voice responses, fax tone, automated emails and the like.

Focus your team’s effort on priority calls.
Not all calls are the same. In the same way, not all agents or sales representatives are the same. IVR allows information-driven call routing. Know what calls should be on top of the queue list, and which agent to forward these calls too. Provide better caller experience through skills-based routing and prioritized call processing.

The Benefits From an IVR System

You only stand to gain from optimally configured IVR systems.

Come off as professional and up-to-date.
Regardless of your size, customers have come to expect some form of automated response when they call your office. The more intuitive and in-depth the IVR is, the more impressed they are likely to be. It gives them an idea about your company’s stability and focus on customer support.

Resolve issues even before engaging with an actual agent.
Some client questions can be resolved with simple database queries. Think of card or bank transaction queries, and the like. Your IVR system can lessen the call traffic that leads to your agents. Focus your team’s time on important calls that need human intervention. This gives them enough leeway to provide better quality support.

Improve your call processing efficiency.
Because your IVR system is the first to process calls, agent intervention is shortened – in more ways than one. The IVR system gathers relevant information initially; the human agent needs to ask less questions. The data is passed on to a qualified agent, someone who is expert in dealing with the caller’s specific issues. Since you get the best matched caller and agent, call resolution can be faster.

Reduce the cost of operations.
There is an initial investment when it comes to implementing an IVR system. But, this is potentially the most that you’d spend for your IVR. The system can replace a number of agents, as well as the office receptionist.

Have happier customers.
Speed and access lead to happier customers. IVR does this for you through easy access to data, information-driven call routing and processing, and personalized service from an expert call agent. So, move things along – fix their issues and answer their queries – expertly and efficiently just by beginning the conversation with your IVR system.

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Patrick Hogan

Patrick is a Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Tenfold.