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IVR systems interactive voice response

IVR Solutions

This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to IVR Solutions and custom IVR software and products. Business phone systems and toll free answering systems (generally 800 numbers and their equivalent) are very popular for service and sales organizations, allowing customers and prospects to call your organization anywhere in the country. The PACER and WIZARD IVR System is just one of many DSC call center phone system features..

Contact DSC today. to learn more about our IVR services and IVR application development software.

Deploying IVR/IWR To Meet Customer Self-Service Needs


Self-service" technology has created a new way for us to live. Today's world surrounds us with high levels of information, technology and purchasing power. Consumers use multiple venues to connect with businesses and purchase products. They want to make those connections on their own time, not just during business hours, and they do not want to spend their valuable time on hold or waiting for assistance. Self-service enhances the relationship with your customers because it allows customers to be in control; to use the media they want, to gain quick access to the information they want, when they want it.

Consumers' expectations from service providers continue to escalate as multifunction, multichannel customer service moves forward. Toll-free numbers and live operators used to be sufficient for all customer service tasks; now customers are asking for more answers, more choices, more hours of business, more speed and more satisfaction. In short, they are demanding more self-service capabilities. Satisfying these escalating demands can be expensive and inefficient, impacting the ability to stay competitive and build relationships with customers. Business owners and managers find themselves looking for better ways to deliver more while spending less.

Why Use IVR?

Interactive voice response (IVR) and interactive Web response (IWR) products can be the right solution for these demands. IVR and IWR applications are proven systems that can give customers quick access to correct, consistent information that can be easily updated. They can trim caller hold time, automate repetitive or routine calls, handle many transactions per hour, eliminate busy signals, reduce call abandonment, capture caller information, transfer calls, track call duration and call termination points and provide a 24/7 connection to the information and services your customers need.

The Benefits Of Using IVR And IWR

With the use of IVR and IWR products, you are always open for business. This not only strengthens customer loyalty, but it also opens new channels of distribution, creating new opportunities for sales and profits. The holiday sales over the Internet for 1998 set the stage for what the future will bring. E-commerce is estimated to reach the billion dollar mark in 1999.

The ability to handle high transaction volumes and provide easy, secure access to personalized information make IVR/IWR technology a logical and competitive choice for many industries.

Speech recognition (natural speech) is making its way to the front line as well, allowing call centers to do more with less as it becomes integrated into core technology and operation tools.

Customers want to use self-service technology. It puts them in the driver's seat. Businesses that respond to this will stay in the competitive environment.

Key Technology

The integration of telephone usage (IVR) and the Internet (IWR) is proving to be a successful way to reach customers. Customer access to multimedia is redefining the way call centers must do business. The integration of IVR and IWR products allows the customer and your company to enter and receive information and services from just one database. This leads to the same answers and the same questions through whichever venue is chosen at the time, reduces maintenance complexity, delivers unified customer service and reduces application time.

No matter where the inquiry comes from, through the telephone or through the Internet, the customer receives access to a shared database layer. This is not only beneficial to the customer, but it is a cost-saving tool for your business.

As technology continues to evolve with speech recognition, multimedia platforms and Internet access, the value of these systems continues to grow. Consumers want data, they want an option to talk to someone, they want to purchase products, they want questions answered, they want a way in and they want a way out. Integration allows for this, helping your company to never miss a business opportunity.

When you make the decision to develop an IVR and/or IWR application, you should first realize that fundamentally, it is the software that makes it work as a package. It is not just a telephone or a computer by itself. With this in mind, you will need to have an understanding of software programming, available software, telephony and networking.

Some of the IVR/IWR capabilities available today are:
  • Speech recognition (including the latest technology, natural language processing),
  • Fax-on-demand,
  • Name and address capture,
  • Telephone surveys,
  • Dealer locators,
  • Market surveys,
  • E-commerce, and
  • Push-to-talk ("reach me" buttons that transfer Web users to an IVR application or to a live operator call center).

Do-It-Yourself Or Outsource?

Once the decision to develop an IVR/IWR application has been made, the next step is to decide whether you will build it in-house or outsource it.

There are, of course, several factors involved in making this decision. Rapidly advancing technologies, such as speech recognition, the Internet, e-commerce, database functionality and fax-on-demand, can be expensive to develop and maintain. Purchasing, maintaining and managing vendors for some of the necessary equipment, such as VRUs (voice response units), Internet servers, database servers, call routing and telco services, and data transfer services, can become a heavy addition to your budget when brought in-house. It also requires knowledge of the latest technology.

When outsourcing an IVR/IWR application, the outsourced service provider manages the vendor relationships, maintains and updates software and equipment, acts as a single point of contact, offers expert resources in the industry and owns the responsibility of keeping current with the latest technology. This can be beneficial if your company does not have the necessary resources or expertise. When you outsource, you pay for what you need and share the cost of the latest technology with the outsourcer's other customers. When you bring the system in-house, you pay up front, incurring the one-time development cost, then you pay the continuous cost of maintaining the platforms and keeping current with product, software and industry developments.

Items to consider are call volume, application complexity and size, required transcription, fulfillment, data and reporting needs, frequency of script and data changes and level of customer service your company keeps as a standard.

If your application is small, does not expect a large call volume and will not require complex programming, an in-house solution might be the best choice. If your application does not require a large quantity of transcribed records or product fulfillment, an in-house product will accommodate your needs. Otherwise, using an outsource service provider can offer more cost-effective and efficient customer service solutions.

Another consideration is your company's needs and the level of customer service your company strives to attain. If your customer service is on the top of the list and you want to stay competitive, you might consider a high-end solution, which many times can lead to outsourcing.

The global economy is growing with tremendous speed, placing an enormous amount of pressure on companies that want to stay in the race. Consumers' demands and expectations are significant and require companies to participate in the exploitation of today's technology. To meet these growing demands for 24/7 self-service options with efficiency and without absorbing an expensive increase in staffing, many businesses have opted to use interactive voice and Web response applications.

Dennis Kyle is director of product marketing for NEXTLINK Interactive. He provides overall product direction for NEXTLINK and develops and manages overall marketing efforts by working closely with NLI sales and operations to successfully develop and deploy new and existing products into the marketplace. Mr. Kyle works directly with NLI clients on marketing and product initiatives as needed.

Contact DSC today. to learn more about our IVR services and IVR application development software.