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By: Aivis Olsteins

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Intelligent Interactive Voice Response

IVR systems can automate lots of routine tasks and increase customer satisfaction if properly implemented

Everybody knows frustration when calling a bank, airline, insurance or telecom company you need to wait long time before connected and listen to that annoying music on hold. The number of live operators is limited, and always less than the number seems to be needed. Human resources are valuable, and of course, the service operators are inclined to keep their number at the minimum, just above the level the customer patience runs out.

Interactive Voice Response systems or IVRs allow to offload some work from the human operators, at least some of the most routine. It is widely used now to allow selection of language, department and some other options before... putting in the queue for the live operator again.

As the requirements of IVR system users or operators differ, it is essential for such systems to be flexible. That mostly means that these systems should allow their users to set up their own IVR menus, and actions following user inputs. Basic features for IVR system should be at least:

  • Possibility to play prerecorded voice files;
  • Intercept users key-presses (DTMF) and act upon them;
  • To be able to query some backend database via API, or other;
  • Be capable to interpret data results, such as composing multi-digit numbers and properly order sound files;
  • Forward call to external address for live operator.

These are a minimum set of features which every IVR system should have. However, to call it truly Intelligent, there are more features which they should possess such as:

  • Text-to-spech: generate speech from mandatory text without need of prerecorded messages. This allows far greater flexibility, speed of deployment and reduced costs;
  • Data processing capabilities: arithmetic, logical, string operations, various data format processing capabilities such as JSON, XML;
  • Advanced process control commands, such as if-else blocks, loops and iterators;
  • Speech recognition and analysis: allows user to access systems without keypress, only by voice commands;
  • APIs to connect to external platforms, such as: payment processing, APIs to 3rd party CRM, DBMS systems;
  • Messaging: sending text messages, emails, instant messages;
  • Record voice messages and interpret them;

Above list is by no means complete of what a truly Intelligent IVR system should be capable of doing. It is also essential that the work flow of system can be easily modifiable without need to possess advanced programming skills. Therefore a right balance between simplicity and feature richness is essential.




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About Author
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My name is Aivis Olsteins and I am owner of DataTechLabs. My experience in Telecoms started in early 1990's and I have worked in multiple technical positions in mobile, messaging and data networks. My expertise lies in telecom networks, database systems, distributed processing and large data analysis. These posts are my attempt to share my knowledge with everyone who might find it useful.

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