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Interactive Voice Response [EXCLUSIVE]

Interactive voice response (IVR) is a technology that allows telephone users to interact with a computer-operated telephone system through the use of voice and DTMF tones input with a keypad. In telecommunications, IVR allows customers to interact with a company's host system via a telephone keypad or by speech recognition, after which services can be inquired about through the IVR dialogue. IVR systems can respond with pre-recorded or dynamically generated audio to further direct users on how to proceed. IVR systems deployed in the network are sized to handle large call volumes and also used for outbound calling as IVR systems are more intelligent than many predictive dialer systems.[1]

interactive voice response

IVR systems can be used standing alone to create self-service solutions for mobile purchases, banking payments, services, retail orders, utilities, travel information and weather conditions. In combination with systems such an automated attendant and ACD, call routing can be optimized for a better caller experience and workforce efficiency.IVR systems are often combined with automated attendant functionality. The term voice response unit (VRU) is sometimes used as well.[2]

Despite the increase in IVR technology during the 1970s, the technology was considered complex and expensive for automating tasks in call centers.[3] Early voice response systems were DSP technology based and limited to small vocabularies. In the early 1980s, Leon Ferber's Perception Technology became the first mainstream market competitor, after hard drive technology (read/write random-access to digitized voice data) had reached a cost-effective price point.[citation needed] At that time, a system could store digitized speech on disk, play the appropriate spoken message, and process the human's DTMF response.

As call centers began to migrate to multimedia in the late 1990s, companies started to invest in computer telephony integration (CTI) with IVR systems. IVR became vital for call centers deploying universal queuing and routing solutions and acted as an agent which collected customer data to enable intelligent routing decisions. With improvements in technology, systems could use speaker-independent voice recognition[4] of a limited vocabulary instead of requiring the person to use DTMF signaling.

Starting in the 2000s, voice response became more common and cheaper to deploy. This was due to increased CPU power and the migration of speech applications from proprietary code to the VXML standard.

Other technologies include using text-to-speech (TTS) to speak complex and dynamic information, such as e-mails, news reports or weather information. IVR technology is also being introduced into automobile systems for hands-free operation. TTS is computer generated synthesized speech that is no longer the robotic voice traditionally associated with computers. Real voices create the speech in fragments that are spliced together (concatenated) and smoothed before being played to the caller.

Interactive voice response can be used to front-end a call center operation by identifying the needs of the caller. Information can be obtained from the caller such as an account number. Answers to simple questions such as account balances or pre-recorded information can be provided without operator intervention. Account numbers from the IVR are often compared to caller ID data for security reasons and additional IVR responses are required if the caller ID does not match the account record.[5]

A directed dialogue prompt communicates a set of valid responses to the user (e.g. "How can I help you? ... Say something like, account balance, order status, or more options"). An open-ended prompt does not communicate a set of v