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IVR systems interactive voice response

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 (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.

IVR Perceptions

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By Ascent Group, Inc.

Is your IVR perceived as one of “those confounded machines that won’t let you talk to a human”?

An Extract from IVR Improvement Strategies,
A new research report published by the Ascent Group, Inc.

The technical definition of Integrated Voice Response (IVR) is a telecommunications system that accepts a combination of voice and telephone touch-tone keypad input and provides appropriate responses in the form of voice, fax, callback, e-mail and perhaps other media. Ask anyone on the street and you’ll most likely hear the following definition—“those confounded machines that won't let you talk to humans.”

With the advent of IVR technology more than a decade ago, many predicted the demise of the call center. The promise of automation proved so alluring that many implemented IVR technology with little or no consideration of the customer experience. In fact, many IVR applications provided absolutely no way of opting out to an agent, all in the name of reducing agent-handled calls.

The all-out push for automation was devastating—most customers hated IVR technology. IVR became a “bad name”, making it even more difficult for those companies just embarking on an implementation. In many cases, companies implementing IVR systems were worse off than if they hadn’t done anything at all. Poorly designed IVR implementations dissatisfied customers, lost sales, and ironically ended up increasing calls into the center rather than eliminating them.

It’s taken more than a decade for IVR acceptance to grow, but only after companies realized they were alienating customers at the expense of automation. The push in recent years has emphasized the importance of the “customer experience” and its linkage to customer satisfaction and profitability. Companies are now actively addressing IVR usability through customer-friendly design. In fact, the drive for automation has been somewhat moderated with the concept of “self-service”—providing options for customers to help themselves. In addition, speech-enabled technologies have helped to socialize the IVR, further increasing its usability and acceptance.

In short, IVR technology offers companies a way to reduce costs through call segmentation, automated call handling, and informational messaging—24 hours a day, 365 days a year, while maintaining customer privacy. More and more companies are now designing and deploying customer-friendly IVR applications and beginning to enjoy higher acceptance rates and increased customer satisfaction.

Given the history of the technology and its potential, companies hoping to reap the benefits of IVR must understand that the customer experience is everything, even with Automated Speech Recognition (ASR). While callers are generally happier with voicedriven systems, a poorly designed ASR system will have the same negative impact on customer satisfaction, sales, and call center performance.

Perhaps the IVR should be viewed not so much as a call center automation opportunity, rather as another customer communications channel—a customer touch-point—and managed as such. The benefits will follow.

Communication between Man and the Machine

Today’s increasingly competitive and cost-conscious market has delineated the importance of delivering customer-satisfying service while effectively managing operating costs, and IVR’s “self-service” potential supports this goal. While some companies have sworn off IVRs altogether, others are pushing the technology forward, trying to balance customer satisfaction, automation, and self-service. Ultimately, the IVR’s success rests on the quality and outcome of the “conversation”, just like agent-handled calls. Regardless of the channel—IVR, email, letter, voice, website—from the customer’s perspective, it all comes down to the quality of the interaction and resolution.

Companies are just now realizing the importance of aligning internal quality goals and measurements with the customer or end-user’s quality goals and expectations—measuring the “customer experience” rather than management’s interpretation of the customer experience. This approach is now being reflected in call quality monitoring and the coaching of agents. The same concepts should apply to the “virtual” rep—whether it’s self-service through the IVR or the web site.

You can purchase the results from this benchmarking study, IVR Improvement Strategies, at the web site www.ascentgroup.com. Results are available in a printed and bound format, on CD-Rom, and online (downloadable pdfs). Contact Christine Kozlosky at the Ascent Group for more information 478-469-3950.

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