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IVR Solutions

This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to IVR Development 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..

What is IVR Software?. An Interactive Voice Response (Interactive Voice Response (IVR)IVR) processes inbound phone calls, plays recorded messages including information extracted from databases and the internet, and potentially routes calls to either inhouse service agents or transfers the caller to an outside extension.

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

Building User-Friendly Voice Systems
Page 3

Author: Tim Noonan B.A.


Developing IVR applications is much more about understanding your customers, your business and the way callers use telephones than it is about programming computers. Your software developers are a critical component of the development process, however, you should ensure that the customer support staff of your organisation have a major role too! Customer Service staff know the kinds of things callers want to do and want to know. It can also be beneficial to involve independent specialists experienced in IVR design and human factors research during the various development stages of the project. This is often more critical with IVR projects, because most organisations have had minimal experience with IVR applications, even though they may have had quite extensive experience in developing screen-based applications. The investment of having your system assessed by people experienced in auditory user interface design issues can save your organisation a lot of time, uncertainty, expense and lost productivity due to system re-design and re-scripting. A well designed system will also lead to users learning the system faster, less user frustration and strong uptake of your service instead of them insisting on expensive human-based interactions.


This is a "voluntary" standard - which means there is no authority like Austel demanding that every IVR system comply with it. But it makes good sense to follow the standard as far as possible, unless you have a good reason to deviate from particular recommendations.

IVR systems will have a greater chance of success and acceptability if all systems share some commonality, since experience has shown that consistent and predictable human interfaces benefit users through faster learning, greater productivity, fewer errors, greater satisfaction and faster acceptance. And therefore, greater customer acceptance.

It is possible for your system to comply to the latest revision of the Australian and New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS 4263) and still retain a unique identity which clearly differentiates it from other products on the market.

The first interim revision of the Australian Standard was released in December 1994 and the expanded update early in 1997. The standard has two types of clauses: "shall" clauses (things that must be adhered to if you wish to comply with the standard) and "should" clauses (things you should do where possible). This standard has very few "shall" clauses and many "should" clauses. As a designer, this is to your advantage. It means that when in doubt about how to do something the standard provides strong recommendations. However, when you have sound reasons for implementing your product in different ways, in most cases you have the scope to do so. Therefore, you should adhere to all the "shall" requirements, adhere to as many of the "should" recommendations as possible, and be consistent within your application where you need to develop your own approaches to user interface facilities.

In the case of the standard, the Committee gave high priority to compatibility with the many existing conventions already in use in the Industry. Next, the Committee dealt with those critical aspects of user interface that were not consistent across existing applications, including exiting the system, returning to the previous menu and providing yes/no responses to the system. Other recommendations - such as the recommended maximum number of items in a menu - were based on cognitive psychologist's understanding of human information processing and memory.

Clause 2.6 of the Standard (use of * key) deserves some explanation. One of the most difficult challenges for the Committee was dealing with use of the * key. On the one hand there were a vast number of existing systems which use the * as a clear-field/cancel/back-up command (similar to the key on a computer keyboard). On the other hand, there was the draft ISO Standard for voice messaging which proposes that the * key be used as a "shift" key, that is, a prefix key to a menu of special functions that should be available from virtually any part of the system. The Committee did not want to develop an Australian and New Zealand standard which was not compatible with the ISO Standard, nor did it wish to impose an added level of complexity to the large number of existing and future applications which did not really require this new ISO proposal for use of the * key. Therefore, the Committee opted to allow both uses of the * key pending further industry development.

If you have feedback on the Standard, and how various aspects of it could be changed or clarified to improve IVR applications, or if you have additions to propose to the Committee, please send them to Standards Australia for consideration by the Committee.

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Tim Noonan (B.A.) +61 2 9687 1112, runs SoftSpeak Computer Services - specialising in Interactive Voice Response (Interactive Voice Response (IVR)IVR) and Disability Technology.

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