IVR – The Triathlete of Business
The interactive voice response unit (IVR) is an indispensable component of the modern enterprise. It’s rare to call a main business number and speak to a person rather than an IVR. Some may view this technology negatively while others understand how the IVR has allowed customers and enterprises to connect and engage in commerce in a more efficient manner. The increase in efficiency leads to additional time for customers to focus on other pursuits and enables businesses to increase their overall productivity.
The IVR is often referred to as an automated attendant which is a misnomer. An automated attendant’s primary role is to receive and route calls based on simple rules such as, press 1 for sales, 2 for customer service, 3 for distribution, or 4 for after hours voice mail.
An IVR is capable of performing advanced database functions over the telephone. For example, consider when you’re using the telephone to refill a prescription at the local pharmacy. The pharmacy IVR receives the calls and requests your prescription number, then the IVR performs a database lookup to determine whether the prescription may be refilled. If refillable, the IVR transmits a message to the pharmacy you’ve selected to refill the prescription and then returns a message thanking you for choosing their pharmacy that typically includes a time that you may pickup your medicine. Wow! The IVR provides significantly more functionality when compared to a simple auto-attendant.
Bell Systems developed and unveiled a new tone dialing methodology at the 1962 Seattle World Fair known as dual tone multi-frequency (DTMF). Early IVR systems relied on (DTMF) signaling for interactivity between the consumer and the IVR system. DTMF signaling is still widely used in IVR systems while newer advanced systems are using voice extensible markup language (VMXL) enabling enhanced features such as speech recognition and text-to-speech capabilities.
IVR’s are empowering people to quickly answer simple questions like movie times, bank balances, recent credit card purchases, or IVRs can manage complex issues such as transcribing a doctor visit from voice to text that can be archived for future reference.
Randall Smith – 1stel Project Manager