People who have an interest in your product, service, or company sometimes have questions. In a previous time, before the advent of the internet and other modern technologies, most questions were resolved by phoning a customer service support line. Alternatively, questions were settled during face-to-face communication in brick-and-mortar settings. With the 1970s came automation and thus the concept of Interactive Voice Response, and subsequently, the ’80s saw the technology become ever increasing and widespread. Today it is hard to find a call center or phone support without an IVR system, as it is a basic tool of any business.
Interactive Voice Response (shortened as IVR) is the system that allows a person on the phone to interact with a company they are calling to through voice commands or manual input during the call. It is made possible by using an automated technology that a company operates.
Before the advent of mobile phones, this technology was possible with literal buttons, which have now been replaced by touchscreens, making the experience even more simplified. This is what IVR stands for in the interaction with callers.
Interactive voice response routing and commands
What is an IVR process? A typical process looks like this.
1. A caller calls a phone number, and once the connection is established, the automated system picks up.
2. The system offers to choose an option from the list of options or state the question.
3. A caller follows the prompt to respond or press a key.
4. The system voices a prerecorded message according to the selected choice, which also can be looped by default or repeated after re-pressing a button/voicing a command.
5. As a rule, for a caller’s convenience, it is possible to further enter information (through voice and buttons), return to a previous menu, or go deeper into sub-menus to effectively find a solution for a caller’s issue. If not found, a caller can connect with a live person to solve the problem (most IVRs usually allow this).
Suppose anything goes wrong and a system is unable to recognize a vocal command of a caller. In that case, it may end a call (playing or not playing some prerecorded farewell message) or transfer a caller to a live operator. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that some companies try to save money more than cherish their customers and go as far as having no live operators at all.
Companies with the possibilities of IVR technology and equipment can:
- create various routes for redirecting a caller
- personalize their branches of submenus
- use pre-recorded messages or computer-generated voicemails if the information isn’t formalized (for instance, it has changeable parameters due to personalization of answers and person’s identification)
- set up their unique way of processing callers on IVR and guiding them to live operators faster (or slower) based on various criteria, such as a value of a client, the size of the company itself, the existence of promos they voice to every caller or sales strategies.
IVR possibilities allow callers to self-service without consuming an operator's time (which about 60% of callers seek in modern days) and save budgets of support services/call centers, freeing the time of their operators for something more pressing.
More possibilities of an IVR call center
Not only is routing a vital function of interactive voice response but there are also swarms of other objectives to its usage.
Automatic Call Distribution. Allows all calls made on a particular pool of numbers (including fax) to be redirected to your call center.
- Skill-Based Routing: This makes it possible to assign roles to your phone operators and range their skills to make it possible for a system to redirect a caller to the most suitable operator based on the IVR choices. That goes without saying that the system also picks the free operator or the one who’ll free up the fastest.
- Call Routing: That’s a system with rules in place of routing calls to the departments of your company to handle caller’s requests depending on the IVR choices. This is mainly for the second, more qualified line of support (unlike Skill-Based Routing).
- Ring Groups. If you want all phones with the same number extension to ring at once, you can do so when a call arrives. It’s relevant for scenarios when you can’t monitor if someone is at their desk or absent and to guarantee that other workers are sitting on their tables.
Callback scheduling. If all operators are currently busy, you can ask for a caller for a callback at a convenient time.
IVR is not a new technology and is used today to build up the work of your call center or support service. Using it creates a more manageable workflow and therefore a profitable return for you and your company in the long run.