Today, more and more often in everyday life you can meet the concept of IVR (Interactive Voice Response). This is what not everyone knows, although almost daily they encounter this technology in real life. Let's try to give an idea of such systems by describing them in a commonly understood language.
IVR: what is it?
To make it immediately clear what such systems are, let's give a simple example. Most of us one way or another had to contact the service center of a mobile operator. When you call, you hear a greeting and an offer to press a specific button on your mobile phone to select the section that best matches the request in the interactive menu.
What is an IVR? This is precisely the organization of the help system based on the use of pre-recorded or synthesized voice messages, designed to redirect the user to the section of the service center that he needs. After all, it is naive to believe that a living person sits at the other end of the line and constantly pronounces the same phrases. Instead, when a call arrives, it worksa special application that activates the playback of a welcome message, and then, depending on which button was pressed by the subscriber, a redirect occurs to the appropriate section, where another audio track is selected or direct voice synthesis is performed based on a pre-assigned text.
And, as you can see, any IVR system is a multi-level structure with pre-distributed submenu transitions.
Where IVR systems are used
What is an IVR service, in general terms, is probably already clear. This is not the only use of such a structure.
The most widespread such systems are in the so-called call-centers and in most cases are used in areas such as:
- mobile communications;
- banking institutions;
- insurance companies;
- payment systems;
- ground and air transportation (pre-booking tickets, schedule updates, etc.);
- large, medium and small businesses (enterprises that provide reference services for their goods and services) and so on.
As you can see, these are just the simplest examples. Today, the correct organization of IVR systems allows you to attract customers in a variety of areas and improve the quality of service. At the same time, systems are distinguished that work both on the basis of actions with technical devices and on voice client requests (for example, in a bank to find out the status of theircredit or deposit account, sometimes you just need to give the full contract number or the last few digits).
Varieties of IVR systems
Now look at the complexity of IVR systems. What it is, it is not difficult to understand if we consider their organization. The simplest structures work on the basis of pre-recorded samples and do not particularly shine with the complexity of the software.
As for the major market players that provide their customers with access to help systems, the following technologies can be separately noted here:
- ASR - speech synthesis.
- TTS - text-based speech reproduction.
- Response systems based on voice queries with subsequent access to special databases (DB).
Basic operating principles
Such systems work on the basis of specially developed scripts. The most widely used technology is VXML, which involves the adaptation of the XML language to voice applications.
For example, in the Call Manager Express platform based on Cisco technologies, when an incoming call is received, the system first tests the dial-peer, and after finding a match, accesses the flash memory and launches a special VXML-IVR script. After pressing the buttons on the phone, DTMF operations are processed, as a result of which a redirection to one or another section of the help system is performed.
As mentioned above, the correct organization of the hierarchy andthe structure of the system itself plays a significant role (in some cases, this is what determines the client's attitude to the convenience or inconvenience of access to the help system).
If the structure has too many sublevels and all sorts of interactive sections, the subscriber can simply get confused in them. In addition, many of us clearly do not want to listen to standard recorded patterns, but want to talk to the operator live. In the event that there is no available operator at the moment, steps must be taken so that the system reports the approximate time during which the subscriber will be in the queue. Finally, he should also know his turn, because not everyone wants to be on the line and listen to annoying music. In addition, when calling from mobile devices, waiting times may be charged.
Requirements for recording IVR greetings
This is another point to consider regarding IVR systems. What it is is already a little clear. Now let's look at some important points that are no longer related to the organization of the structure of the help system, but to the design requirements.
Recording IVR messages today can be done in companies specializing in this, or you can make short greetings or a descriptive part of the sections yourself. Here comes to the fore (not to mention the fact that all messages should be concise and as informative as possible) the choice of the timbre of a male or female voice, as well as musical accompaniment, if any.
When recording audio, manycompanies ask the customer to clarify with what intonation the phrase should be pronounced, where in the text the rise or fall of the tone will be used, at what speed this or that text will be read, etc. Roughly speaking, the answering voice should be unobtrusive and pleasant to the ear so that no subscriber wants to hang up immediately.
The same goes for music. Her choice should be approached with particular care, because many of the same Beethoven composition “For Elise”, despite all its genius, are already simply tired. So here you should use some kind of unhackneyed melody that will be more relaxing than danceable or written at a fast pace. But you can’t let the subscriber fall asleep either. However, there is so much music in the world today that there is obviously plenty to choose from.
Advantages and disadvantages of IVR systems
If we talk about the benefit that an enterprise or company receives from the introduction of such systems, it is obvious, because the subscriber receives exactly the information that interests him, the system works constantly, which means that you can get access to it at any time of day and night.
But among the shortcomings, many experts often note an overabundance of sublevels to which redirection occurs, which only leads to the fact that a person is lost in them. Among other things, depending on the package of the same mobile operator, calls to such service centers may be charged, despite the fact that many organizations today are increasingly moving to use numbers that are not called by third parties.mobile operators, nor from organizations serving home (city) phone numbers, are not charged.
Here is a brief and all about the basic understanding of IVR systems. What it is was explained using the simplest examples, and the technical part of the issue was not particularly touched upon, since a subscriber trying to get advisory information does not need it. But in terms of a general idea of the principles of functioning of such services, this will be enough.