What is an IVR System?

An IVR system is an automated interactive voice response interface that greets callers at the beginning of phone calls. IVR systems allow callers to interact with menus, indicate what they need, and possibly self-serve to resolve their own issues. Contact centers frequently use IVRs, in conjunction with automatic call distributors (ACDs), to refine the quality of call routing. But IVR systems aren't restricted to contact center use - any organization with a need to route phone calls can benefit from IVRs.

Traditional IVR systems require callers to interact using their phone's keypad (DTMF technology). For example, the caller might be instructed to "Press 3 for technical support." More modern IVR systems use natural language processing and text-to-speech, both forms of artificial intelligence (AI), to allow callers to voice their menu options or simply say what they are calling about (for example, "I need help because my computer keeps crashing"). These conversational abilities create a more natural experience and can allow customers to bypass the menu altogether.

Today's IVR systems can also use AI-powered chatbots to collect customer information and facilitate self-service. These bots function much like Apple's Siri as they walk callers through transactions like scheduling appointments or placing food orders. And if self-service isn't in the cards, IVR systems that use chatbots can still facilitate the interaction by collecting pertinent caller information and passing it on to the agent.

Effectively designing IVR systems requires a fine balance between customer and operational needs. For example, contact centers should encourage self-service, but not make it difficult for callers to reach agents. When this balance is achieved, organizations can realize benefits such as:

  • Higher customer satisfaction
  • Reduced operating costs
  • Better call routing
  • Lower average handle times (AHT)
  • Faster resolutions

How NICE is Redefining Customer Experience

NICE CXone is the industry’s only interaction-centric platform where channels, data, applications, and knowledge converge to improve customer experience at scale.

It is the leading, most complete and unified CX Platform on the market, used by thousands of organizations of all sizes around the world to help them consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences. CXone is a cloud native, unified suite of applications designed to help you holistically run your call (or contact) center operations.

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