Dec 12, 2022, Innovations

What is IVR and where do we use it?

Maria Baryluk Content Specialist
ivr definicja
Telecommunication in our times is a system of many processes and functionalities designed for the most efficient communication and, consequently, customer service. IVR, which stands for Interactive Voice Response, is a technology that, as the name suggests, interactively assists a person over the phone before connecting them to a human operator.

How does IVR work?

The origins of IVR technology date back to the 1990s when the service “Moviefone” became popular. Users would call and provide their zip code, and the system would provide a list of movies playing in the area. Soon after, call center agencies began implementing IVR systems for their daily routine work. When a customer wanted to reach a particular company, they would first connect with the IVR system, which would then direct them to a specific department or help resolve their issue based on a linked database. Depending on the needs of the company, there are three types of IVR systems:

  • DTMF (Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency) substitute

  • Predefined dialog

  • Natural language

The DTMF substitute is a commonly encountered version of IVR where the caller, after listening to a prerecorded message, needs to enter a number on the keypad to obtain specific information or be further redirected. For example, a travel agency hotline could assign “1” for the Polish language and “2” for English.

The predefined dialog is an IVR type based on a pre-defined script, where the caller confirms, denies, or selects one of the options provided by the system. For example, the system might ask, “Are you looking for our store’s opening hours or its address?” The caller has the option to choose one of the two options.

Natural language is an advanced form of IVR that utilizes speech recognition technology to such an extent that it can conduct a conversation starting from a general question like “How can I assist you?” without a predefined problem, as in the previous type of system.

IVR in daily life: examples of applications

Interactive Voice Response was developed to reduce customer waiting time for connection to support centers and, consequently, enhance the quality of their experiences. IVR solutions are used in various industries worldwide, including customer service centers, the banking and finance sector, and the healthcare industry mentioned earlier. Depending on the needs of a particular company or institution, IVR can verify a person’s identity over the phone, schedule a doctor’s appointment, conduct a medical survey, provide bank account balances, and other confidential information. It can be confidently stated that IVR finds its application wherever a company has direct contact with its customers and offers post-sales support.

Interactive Voice Response: Is it worthwhile?

IVR technology is one of many ways to automate processes in a company, bringing several benefits:

  • Lower operational costs resulting from the replacement of partial human labor with technology. The system allows for handling high customer call volume during weekdays and ensures contact availability during nighttime or holidays.

  • More efficient customer support center operations: The system gathers the necessary information and redirects the call to the appropriate agent or department, reducing the waiting time for problem resolution and providing expert assistance during the first contact.

  • Data protection is particularly important for systems dealing with databases containing sensitive information. In the era of phone scams, an additional layer of security in the form of voice-based identity verification appears to be a reasonable safeguarding measure.

Despite the numerous advantages of IVR technology, there are areas that still require improvement and optimization. Paradoxically, overly complex and overloaded menus can cause frustration and impatience for customers who are waiting to select their area of interest. Not everyone prefers impersonal contact, especially when dealing with more complicated.