IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems serve as a way for clients to connect with a business without the need for live human interaction. This is achieved by connecting a company's computer database to their telephone system in order to provide clients with the info they seek.
These systems have been around for years and big as well as small companies use them to: better their client service, display a professional brand identity, and even sell their products.
Traditionally if a client phones a business with an IVR system, they are greeted by a pre-recorded voice instructing them to push a certain number on their phone in order to access a specific menu option. It is simple and easy to use. For example: the system asks the caller to press one for account enquiries, and the caller responds by pressing the number one on the keypad of their phone.
Developers looking to take Interactive Voice Systems to the next level came up with the idea of using voice prompts instead of push selections. Naturally, this provided an array of challenges, but it was not all that impossible.
But why would a business want a speech-enabled system instead of one with touch prompts?
Voice-enabled IVR gives way to more flexibility. Companies are able to get more creative with their presentation and offer their clients options that an ordinary touch-prompt system doesn't lend itself to. It gives clients the feeling of a more natural type of interaction, even if it is limited. It might even help a brand appear a little more "human."
Voice-enabled systems that are currently available are pretty basic. It is due to problems with speech recognition. Because people have different accents and don't always pronounce words the same way, systems are limited to very basic voice commands that closely resembled that of a touch tone. Usually it is limited to a single word or a very short phrase.
System: "If you wish to access your account, say One."
However, voice-enabled systems are rapidly evolving as the software developers are overcoming the various challenges associated with speech recognition. Very soon clients will be able to use phrases or even whole sentences to voice their instructions. This will open up an amazing array of possibilities for a business and will give birth to services that haven't existed before.
The future of IVR systems are very bright - all thanks to the constant evolvement of technology!