What is an IVR System?
An IVR, or Interactive Voice Response, is like a virtual receptionist for your phone system. It's an automated system that can interact with callers, collect information, and direct calls to the right place without needing a human to pick up the phone. The system can understand input from both voice commands and touch-tone keypad selections, and it can respond in various ways, such as through voice, callback, email, and other contact methods.
How Does an IVR System Work?
When someone calls a number that's set up with an IVR system, they're greeted by a pre-recorded message. This message gives them options to choose from, like 'Press 1 for Sales, Press 2 for Customer Service'. The caller selects an option, and the system directs them to the appropriate response or department. Nowadays, many IVR systems even let callers simply say what they need, and the system will understand and route them accordingly.
A Brief History of IVR Systems
IVR technology has been around since the early 70s, but it wasn't until the 90s that it started to become more common. The earliest IVR systems were quite basic and could only understand responses through the touch-tone keypad, a method known as DTMF. As technology has advanced, IVR systems have become more sophisticated and can handle more complex tasks.
Why Use an IVR System?
There are several benefits to using an IVR system:
- They can handle a large number of calls at once, which is great for businesses that receive a lot of customer inquiries.
- They let you record custom greetings and prompts, which can help create a personalised experience for your customers.
- They can reduce operational costs by minimising the need for human resources and resolving issues more quickly.
- They provide 24/7 customer service, which can significantly improve the customer experience.
Different Types of IVR Systems
There are several types of IVR systems to choose from:
- Self-service IVR: This type of system lets callers carry out routine tasks or inquiries by themselves, using key presses and voice prompts.
- Agent-assisted IVR: This system requires human intervention. Calls are directed to a specific department within the company based on the caller's selection.
- Multi-level IVR: This system can direct callers to extensions, call queues, and ring groups, or even to another IVR system. It's useful for determining exactly what a caller needs.
- IVR Callbacks: This feature lets callers choose to receive a callback instead of waiting on hold. It's particularly useful for businesses that receive a high volume of calls.
Choosing the Right Voice for Your IVR System
The voice of your IVR system is often the first impression a new customer will have of your business, so it's important to choose it carefully. The voice should reflect your company's culture, values, and identity. Factors like dialect, tone, and speed can all contribute to creating a positive first impression.