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VoIP Interactive Voice Response Systems
VoIP Interactive Voice Response Systems have become a staple across industries in today’s world. They are commonly used in the banking, retail, airline and telecommunication sectors.
Although some people dislike IVRs, they can save a lot of money for businesses as they are able to reduce the expenses of hiring humans for performing basic customer interactions.
It is not one-sided either, customers also benefit from shorter call queues and not having to bounce around from agent to agent trying to find the information they need.
A VoIP IVR basically combines a VoIP system with IVR technology or in other words, IVR services can be offered through the VoIP platform. An IVR offers advanced capabilities that allow a computer to interact with humans through voice or keypad tones.
At this point, it is important to distinguish between an IVR and an auto attendant even though some vendors use the terms interchangeably.
Difference between auto attendant and IVR
An auto attendant simply redirects calls automatically based on preset rules. Regardless of the number of options offered, the call will always end with a person or a voicemail box. An IVR on the other hand, is capable of much more than that.
For example, a bank may use a VoIP IVR that allows customers to check their account balance or schedule a payment without having to interact with an agent.
IVR systems can even match customers to database records (using their phone numbers) and present advanced options such as allowing them to repeat a previously placed order or transaction just by pressing a button.
IVR – on premise and cloud solutions
Similar to VoIP systems, IVRs can also be hardware based on-premise systems or delivered as cloud hosted services. Some providers offer standalone solutions that can work with a company’s existing VoIP network – whether it is cloud based or not – while other vendors offer integrated products.
When purchasing hosted VoIP services, a business should clarify with the vendor if the service being offered is a simple auto attendant or a more sophisticated IVR. Most basic VoIP packages come with auto attendant but not IVR since they are more complex.
Some services that focus exclusively on small business may not even offer the option at all since very few companies in that segment have a need for it. Since an IVR is expensive, businesses with low call volume may prefer using an auto attendant to efficiently route callers to their destination.
VoIP IVR Capabilities
Not all IVRs include voice responses although most are capable of recognizing keypresses and speech input. The system can be set up to respond to callers with pre-recorded messages or dynamically generate messages based on queries.
IVRs can be used to run polls, conduct surveys, provide useful information to customers and handle basic transactions without help from a human being.
Airlines generally use IVR systems to handle inquiries regarding flight information, ticket status, travel time etc. as the majority of customers tend to want the same information while more complex queries are handled by customer service agents.
However, IVRs are becoming commonplace in many other industries that are using VoIP systems as well.