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IVR Systems

What is an IVR System?

IVR systems are so prevalent that most customers have probably used them without even knowing it. It's easy to have a pretty good grasp of what these systems do. They are a type of technology that allow people to interact with computer automated phone systems. A simple example would be when a customer calls their pharmacy for a refill and is greeted by a prerecorded voice. To answer questions, a customer is given the choice of either saying the numbers in to the phone or using a Touch-Tone keypad to use in order to answer.

Many banks use this systems to better serve their customers. When an account number is entered, the customer is interacting with the automated voice at the other end of the phone. Certain numbers can be entered to interact with a live person if a customer service representative is needed. Some utility companies use more advanced automated systems that give callers the option of communicating via spoken word.

Until recently companies had to use live operators to answer incoming calls. The cost of customer service during this time included more than just the cost of labor -- without an automated phone answering service, many calls were lost to a busy signal. Using IVR, every call can be answered and customers can be helped more quickly.

Saving consumers time with IVR systems

Have you ever waited in line at a grocery store behind people making huge purchases and all you wanted to do was find out where the bananas were kept? The same thing happens on the phone: customers wait on hold behind others with lengthly problems when all they really needed to know is where the store is located. Using IVR technology, an automated system can be put in to place that allows callers to skip right to the menu item they need, without spending several minutes on hold.

Now suppose that you are one of those people with a lengthly problem and you need help from an actual human. An automated voice response system can provide a prompt that will transfer customers to a live customer service representative. Using this service, a customer does not have to wait on hold listening to a dozen different menu options. They can reach an operator by simply pressing a number or by saying "operator", and having the voice command recognized.

IVR systems and VoiceXML

VoiceXML is a computer markup language that allows for voice-driven browsing of web-based services. This means that instead of using a computer mouse and keyboard to navigate the Web, soon we will be able to do so using only our voices and telephone keypads.

Some businesses are already incorporating VoiceXML into their customer service plans. For example, a national bus company has an automated service whereby a customer can call in and find out what time the next bus is leaving from the city they wish to depart. This information can be accessed by a customer using only their voice and their telephone keypad, as the IVR and VoiceXML technology used by this company includes voice recognition software. This is one of the many exaamples of IVR systems in action.

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