Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

  • June 10, 2011
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By Steven Lambert

We all know IVR as the telephone system that routes our calls through a layer of choices before we get to speak to a human. The popular media might deride this call system, but it has helped thousands of small companies enter the world of commerce, and created thousands of jobs.

In many cases a human being is not needed to answer a query or receive information. The future of the system will be wholly linked to the internet as information choices are nothing new when it comes to surfing a web site. People will still need the use of cell phones, as they offer so much freedom for the individual. After all, it is far easier to pick up a cell phone and retrieve information, than sit at a computer.

As technology grows, the two systems will merge. Already laptop computers are getting smaller, and with wireless systems coming on-line, they are using the same systems. But the revolution in 3G phones, has seen a massive leap in what can be offered, in such a small device. IVR can offer a touch-tone keypad selection service, to bring a very advanced method of information gathering to the customer.

IVR can interact with customers to gather information, and pass it on to a management program, such as a CRM, to analyze the Data for commercial use. It would take a huge multinational to carry out all these tasks under one roof, so many small companies get round this by Outsourcing the service to a third party.
The strength of IVR systems is their use of pre-recorded human voices, to offer a choice to the calling customer. Once this data is gathered in, the IVR system will present the information to the staff reading the Database, to make an informed choice on how they will respond. Priority to calls and the upkeep of the Database will be laid out in a method which will keep them efficient in a commercially lean world.

Historically the greatest problem with call center staff, has been turnover. For a system to be at the beck and call of the customer it has to work 24/7, with no exceptions. For a small company to offer this service anywhere in the world, would be impossible but for Outsourced call centers. But the beauty of a semi-automated system such as IVR is that it requires so few people to be on-hand all the time.

Technical staff may be needed to make monitoring decisions on some of the larger systems, but many of these IVR services work on their own.

As companies like to build a database relation with their customers, IVR systems are even more important, for gathering information. Once a customers has been won over, a company is very reluctant to lose them. So it must keep as much up to date information on their activities as it can. There can be a moral question here, but for the fact that this information is gathered via a Survey, sometimes for cash. IVR stems are an excellent method of gathering this information.

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