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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 valid responses (e.g. "How can I help you?"). In both cases, the goal is to glean a valid spoken response from the user. The key difference is that with directed dialogue, the user is more likely to speak an option exactly as was communicated by the prompt (e.g. "account balance"). With an open-ended prompt, however, the user is likely to include extraneous words or phrases (e.g. "I was just looking at my bill and saw that my balance was wrong."). The open-ended prompt requires a greater degree of natural language processing to extract the relevant information from the phrase (i.e. "balance"). Open-ended recognition also requires a larger grammar set, which accounts for a wider array of permutations of a given response (e.g. "balance was wrong", "wrong balance", "balance is high", "high balance"). Despite the greater amount of data and processing required for open-ended prompts, they are more interactively efficient, as the prompts themselves are typically much shorter.[10]


A mixed dialogue approach involves shifting from open-ended to directed dialogue or vice versa within the same interaction, as one type of prompt may be more effective in a given situation. Mixed dialog prompts must also be able to recognize responses that are not relevant to the immediate prompt, for instance in the case of a user deciding to shift to a function different from the current one.[12][11]


In telecommunications, an audio response unit (ARU) (often included in IVR systems) is a device that provides synthesized voice responses to DTMF keypresses by processing calls based on (a) the call-originator input, (b) information received from a database, and (c) information in the incoming call, such as the time of day. ARUs increase the number of information calls handled and provide consistent quality in information retrieval.


Call centers use IVR systems to identify and segment callers. The ability to identify customers allows services to be tailored according to the customer profile. The caller can be given the option to wait in the queue, choose an automated service, or request a callback. The system may obtain caller line identification (CLI) data from the network to help identify or authenticate the caller. Additional caller authentication data could include account number, personal information, password and biometrics (such as voice print). IVR also enables customer prioritization. In a system wherein individual customers may have a different status, the service will automatically prioritize the individual's call and move customers to the front of a specific queue.


IVRs will also log call detail information into its own database for auditing, performance report, and future IVR system enhancements. CTI allows a contact center or organization to gather information about the caller as a means of directing the inquiry to the appropriate agent. CTI can transfer relevant information about the individual customer and the IVR dialog from the IVR to the agent desktop using a screen-pop, making for a more effective and efficient service. Voice-activated dialing (VAD) IVR systems are used to automate routine inquiries to a switchboard or PABX (Private Automatic Branch exchange) operators, and are used in many hospitals and large businesses to reduce the caller waiting time. An additional function is the ability to allow external callers to page staff and transfer the inbound call to the paged person. IVR can be used to provide a more sophisticated voice mail experience to the caller.


IVR systems are used by pharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations to conduct clinical trials and manage the large volumes of data generated. The caller will respond to questions in their preferred language and their responses will be logged into a database and possibly recorded at the same time to confirm authenticity. Applications include patient randomization and drug supply management. They are also used in recording patient diaries and questionnaires.[14]


The introduction of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) means that point-to-point communications are no longer restricted to voice calls but can now be extended to multimedia technologies such as video. IVR manufacturers have extended their systems into IVVR (interactive voice and video response), especially for the mobile phone networks. The use of video gives IVR systems the ability to implement multimodal interaction with the caller.


Due to the introduction of instant messaging (IM) in contact centers, agents can handle up to 6 different IM conversations at the same time, which increases agent productivity.[citation needed] IVR technology is being used to automate IM conversations using existing natural language processing software. This differs from email handling as email automated response is based on key word spotting and IM conversations are conversational. The use of text messaging abbreviations and smilies requires different grammars to those currently used for speech recognition. IM is also starting to replace text messaging on multimedia mobile handsets.


What is Interactive Voice Response (IVR)?Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is an automated phone system technology that allows incoming callers to access information via a voice response system of pre recorded messages without having to speak to an agent, as well as to utilize menu options via touch tone keypad selection or speech recognition to have their call routed to specific departments or specialists.


A well designed IVR software system can help increase customer satisfaction and improve contact center operations and KPIs. Particularly during times of high call volume, an effective interactive voice response system can help avoid hold time by helping customers find answers and perform simple tasks themselves. In cases where a customer needs or requests to speak with a person, ivr technology can help route calls quickly and seamlessly to the best call center agent to address their inquiry.


Interactive voice response, or IVR, is an automated telephone system that combines pre-recorded messages or text-to-speech technology with a dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) interface to engage callers, allowing them to provide and access information without a live agent. If the IVR system cannot retrieve the information that the caller is looking for, the programmed menu options can provide assistance in routing callers to the appropriate representative for help. By integrating computer and telephony technologies, IVR software can improve call flow and reduce wait times, leading higher overall customer satisfaction. 041b061a72


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