If you have dialed a business number and heard a voice that said “Welcome to the company. Please press 1 for support and 2 for sales” then already know what an IVR is. IVR or Interactive Voice Response has revolutionized voice interactions. Even though it’s a very simple technology, it has found multiple applications in industries like healthcare, mobility, customer support, etc.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive look into IVR, it’s types, advantages and more. The idea here is to clearly understand the technology and its applications in different industries.
First things first, let’s understand what an IVR is.
In simple terms, an IVR is an automated voice system helps in making customer segmentation and routing easier. It enables customers to make a choice through their phone’s keypad. It’s popularly used in support centers and has also found it’s usage in other scenarios like customer feedback.
Let’s take a scenario of a hotel booking platform and the implementation of IVR for their helpline number. First up, the hotel will probably want to know the language that the customer is most comfortable with. After capturing the language preference, the company checks if the caller is an existing customer or not.
In case the customers have a query that can be handled by the system, it can be handled by the IVR system itself. For example, if you would like to cancel their bookings, the registered users can use IVR to directly cancel their bookings.
In case the user would like to speak to a customer support agent, they can be connected to the right agent based on their preference. For more information, look at the image below.
Let’s talk about the technology behind IVR. For this, let’s understand DTMF first.
Call Centre DTMF (Dual Tone Multifrequency), also known as touch-tone, is the tone that is produced when you enter numbers on your phone’s keypad. Every key on your phone has a specific frequency attached to it. For example, when you press 1, two tones are generated, 1209 Hz and 697 Hz. In case you want to learn frequencies for other digits too, you can find them here.
So whenever you make an IVR choice on your phone, specific frequencies are passed through the phone line to the IVR system. The frequencies are then translated to determine the key pressed. Depending on the key pressed, different tasks are triggered, be it the next IVR message or call routing. Newer phone systems are usually equipped with automated DTMF encoders.
IVR can be briefly divided into two parts – Single Level IVR and Multi-Level IVR.
Single Level IVR
As the name suggests, single-level IVR helps you add one layer of IVR to your call flow. A simple example would be an automated IVR call for feedback.
One of the popular ways companies use single-level IVR is for automated feedback. The feedback call is triggered which asks the user to enter their rating using the IVR menu. The entry is then fetched and entered into a CRM. Calls are proven to get more engagement when compared to SMS and emails.
This type of IVR lets you trigger another IVR after an IVR. This enables you to create complicated call flows depending upon your business requirements. If you’ve called a support number before, then you’ve probably experienced multi-level IVR.
Let’s see how RedBus, a popular online bus ticketing platform in India uses multi-level IVR for their support.
There are different layers to the IVR –
You can set up an IVR in multiple ways. If you’re a cloud telephony platform, setting up IVR can be a breeze, you can do it without any technical help. But incase of a PBX system, you’ll have to utilize a tool like Asterisk.
Let’s look at how you can set up an IVR on Exotel. We provide our users with a drag and drop interface to create an IVR call flow. Here’s how our IVR applet looks like –
In the case of a dynamic IVR, you can also map digits to trigger another IVR. This means a digit will trigger another IVR applet. We’ll discuss about dynamic IVR and it’s advantages, later in the post.
IVR has found it’s usage in a lot of systems. It’s not limited to only support or sales, companies are utilizing IVR to cancel tickets, book appointments and more.
Let’s look at the various ways different industries are using IVR. Since there are a lot of ways, companies can use IVR for, I’ve tried to cover only the popular ones in different industries.
Note : IVR can be used for both inbound calls and outbound calls.
IVR enables hospitals to utilize a single number for customer support and enquiries. So in case, you need to check if your blood report is ready, you can easily connect to the Lab Department by dialing the same support number (that you might use for booking appointments). For Hospitals, it increases visibility and decreases operational costs.
Companies can leverage automated feedback calls to improve customer experience. This can be triggered after an event (for example, the purchase of a new car). Customers can rate their experience using the DTMF input on their phones. This data can easily be synced using a simple CRM integration.
For some sectors like BFSI, where the financial literacy rate is only 26% (in India), institutions can advertise a centralized toll-free number where customers can call to get their basic FAQs answered through IVR.
IVR is incredibly useful for call centers. It helps in decreasing costs to providing a personalised customer experience. Here are some ways IVR is beneficial for call center :
Personalisation – IVR helps you to greet customers with a personalised message.
Data collection – Boost customer experience by collecting specific information from the customer to route them to the right agent.
Handle high call volumes – IVR enables call centers to handle high call volumes by solving certain customer problems which doesn’t require speaking to a real agent.
We help hundreds of people every month in creating user friendly IVR flows. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when setting up a call flow :
The usage of IVR has revolutionised voice communication. It has turned out to be an essential component for companies, especially for automation and personalisation when it comes to communication.
If you’re looking for an IVR solution for your business, then there’s no better platform than a cloud telephony provider like Exotel. Not only does it save you the hassle of maintaining physical hardware but it’s cost efficient and will save you a lot of time too. To know more you can check here.
Businesses often move to cloud communication system to save on operational costs. However, that is not the only benefit of moving to the cloud. We wrote down the other direct and indirect advantages of moving your business communication to the cloud in this white paper.