A Complete Guide to Interactive Voice Response

When you contact a company there is nothing quite as nice as speaking with a friendly and educated agent.

Right now, there is a growing demand for phone conversations when it comes to resolving issues. In fact, around 48% of customers want to solve their issues over the phone.

However, it is also important to consider how the conversation begins. Was there a substantial waiting time? Were you able to correctly articulate the reason behind your call? Was it easy to reach the right agent in the first place?

While it may not be obvious at first, all of the above-mentioned things matter when a company is dealing with a high number of inbound calls. In these circumstances, the flow of your call system matters. That is exactly what Interactive Voice Response (VR) is good for.

What is Interactive Voice Response?

When calling a company, you will likely hear a recorded phrase first before you actually get through to an agent. It will usually sound something like this:

“To speak to our customer support team, press one. To speak to one of our agents, press two”

Well, that is what IVR is, at a glance. In fact, IVR systems have become so popular that you have likely interacted with one over the phone without realizing what they are. In a nutshell, Interactive Voice Response is an innovative technology that helps to interact with callers before redirecting them to an agent or someone that can help them.

Sometimes, they are so efficient that they remove the need to be directed at all. IVR is used to gather basic information about the purpose of the call and send it to the most suitable agent at the current time. The messages you hear are either pre-recorded or generated which prompts the customer to communicate using either the touch-tone keypad selection or voice.

How do IVR systems work?

IVR systems are essentially an example of computer-telephone integration, also known as CTI. Usually, a simple IVR system will only need a computer attached to a telephone line through special hardware and dedicated IVR software. IVR software is what enables you to pre-record greeting and menu options that a caller can select with their phone keypad.

Then, the Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency signaling (DTMF) kicks into gear when callers use the keypad. From that, the computer is able to understand and process the option that has been chosen. More advanced IVR systems also leverage speech recognition which allows the caller to use simple voice commands to avoid having to press buttons on the keypad. No matter the capabilities of IVR you need, you will need proper phone software to actually implement it.

IVR does not operate separately from a phone system. That is why you need to choose a suitable call center software with an IVR feature. Luckily, there are plenty of them out there to choose from.

The bottom line

Years ago, Interactive Voice Response was only a simple self-service technology. However, these days it is a far more advanced technology. As customer needs are changing, IVR is becoming more powerful to handle inbound call traffic.