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IVR - Interactive Voice Response Demystified

The technology world is changing and evolving every day, and the field of telephony is no exception. Over the past few decades, the telephone industry has continued to develop new and improved ways to increase efficiency and provide professional solutions for businesses. As a result of these developments, interactive voice response (IVR) was created, opening the doors of communication even further, increasing customer satisfaction and providing cost-saving options for businesses, both large and small.

What exactly is IVR?

Perhaps you’ve heard the term before, but do you really understand what IVR is and how it works? In simple terms, interactive voice response is an optimized technology that allows automated interaction with people who call a business for help or information. IVR may use pre-recorded prompts to provide callers with options through the use of their telephone keypads, or they may be more sophisticated and be able to interact with callers based on the spoken word.

What is it used for?

IVR is perfect for businesses that offer clients static information, such as bank or account balances, schedules, mailing address, and order status. A client simply dials into your business’ phone number, follows the prompts provided and either chooses an option by pressing the corresponding number on their keypad or by speaking it. They can then quickly and easily receive the information they need without ever having to speak to a live representative.

IVR can also be used to place outbound calls, providing important information to clients, such as the status of their order, reminder of an upcoming appointment or a past due balance on their account.

What can it do for your business?

Using an IVR system for your business can help you deal with heavy call volumes, increase customer satisfaction and lower costs. It also allows you to extend your “virtual” business hours so that your company can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This increases credibility, gives a more professional image and provides a valuable convenience to your existing and potential customers.

If you run a business that fields a lot of calls, IVR can help direct callers to the appropriate party within your company, place calls in priority order and answer multiple lines at one time. In addition, manual or voice prompts and an automated system may alleviate a number of calls since the caller will likely receive the answer to his or her question without needing to speak to a live representative. If they do determine that they need further assistance, they can select the correct department and be immediately directed without having to pass through a receptionist. Research has shown that this greatly increases client satisfaction and reduces dropped calls.

Your business will also realize a cost savings through the use of IVR, since you will no longer need to rely on live agents to answer and field calls.

How do I get IVR?

Interactive voice response is typically obtained as a component of a virtual phone system, which includes other features such as voicemail, phone trees and online management tools. Together these elements make up a sophisticated and professional business telephone system that provides cost-effective communication, efficiency and customer service and ultimately improves sales and productivity.

Given the ongoing advancements in technology, particularly in terms of telephony, it’s critical that businesses take advantage of and utilize their available resources if they are to remain competitive. Regardless of size or industry, using a virtual phone system with IVR options will help provide professional communication solutions for both you and your clients.

posted by Shaun @ 9:17 AM