What is Grammar?

In the contact center, grammar refers to language as used in connection with IVRs, not the proper use of English. Many of today's interactive voice response (IVR) systems use automatic speech recognition (ASR), meaning callers can speak responses as they interact with the IVR, rather than pushing buttons on their phones. It is typically easier for the caller, but trickier for the call center. This is because they need to program in the complete list of possible responses so the IVR can recognize them. This list is known as the grammar and it's stored in a grammar file.

Building a grammar file can be fairly straightforward when the possible responses are limited. For example, some IVRs use directed dialog in which the callers are told what responses they can use (i.e., "Say yes or no"). This makes it easier to predict what callers might say. The grammar becomes more complex when IVRs use natural language speech recognition. This method allows callers to speak responses to the IVR in conversational phrases, which makes the grammar much harder to predict.

IVRs typically provide reports on the effectiveness of the grammar file. This enables system administrators to pinpoint problem areas to be targeted during grammar tuning efforts.

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