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What is IVR?

A breakthrough in IVR

We sometimes associate IVR with lengthy, frustrated phone calls, in which we’re forced to repeat ourselves like a broken record of a parrot’s one-liners.

Or get lost in a labyrinthine telephone menu, never getting through to the right place or person.

The good news is that IVR is now astonishingly accurate, and this improved technology is becoming more and more adopted by companies and public and private bodies who want to develop their customer service.

So, just what exactly is IVR?

Interactive Voice Response – or IVR – is a telephony technology that allows a person to interact with a company’s telephone system; and in short, serve themselves without speaking directly to an employee.

This technology responds to a caller’s responses as they use their phone keypad to press a number relating to an option. Or by speaking into a handset e.g. saying their name or the nature of their call in a few words.

This input is read by the IVR system, and then used to answer a caller’s questions, handle their requests or point them in the right direction.

So, who uses IVR?

Anywhere there is a group of departments in one organisation, individuals with which people want to speak directly, or anywhere there is a large number of people calling for specific information e.g. banking.

IVR used to be the reserve of big corporations receiving huge numbers of calls every day. But now, smaller and medium-sized companies are seeing the benefits of an automated system too to streamline their operations and improve the professionalism of their service.

This is increasing as many IVR systems are now cloud-based, meaning they don’t need expensive equipment to set up and run.

Okay, so why do they use IVR?

It is entirely dependent on the need of the company or organisation. Some require a complex menu of options to help callers get through to the right place.  Others use it as an automated attendant, transferring calls quickly and easily – some companies prefer to use IVR for their internal calls in this way.

For many businesses it makes perfect sense to have either a receptionist or a team of people to field customer calls; either transferring to individuals or departments, or providing help or information.

Whereas other companies aren’t able to hire employees just to answer the phone, so for them it is more cost-effective and straightforward to have calls routed directly to an IVR system.

Is this the end of telephone operators?

Not at all. Whilst an IVR system is a good way of people being transferred, or getting information quickly, many want the option of speaking to a real person from time to time.

Any company exploring IVR should think about what would work best for them; either technology, people or a blend of both all have a place.

Of course, the most effective system is one which best serves the end user – the customer.

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