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  1. 1. Interactive Voice Response System Introduction Interactive voice response, or IVR, is a computerized system that allows a person, typically a telephone caller, to select an option from a voice menu and otherwise interface with a computer system. Generally the system plays pre-recorded voice prompts to which the person presses a number on a telephone keypad to select the option chosen, or speaks simple answers such as "yes", "no", or numbers in answer to the voice prompts. The latest systems use natural language speech recognition to interpret the questions that the person wants answered. The newest trend is Guided Speech IVR which integrates live human agents into the design and workflow of the application to help the speech recognition with human context. Other innovations include the ability to speak complex and dynamic information such as an e-mail, news report or weather information using Text-To-Speech (TTS). TTS is computer generated synthesised speech and is no longer the robotic voice people associate with computers. Real voices are used to create the speech in tiny fragments that are glued together before being played to the caller. Insight IVR (Interactive Voice Response) System: Insight IVR is a powerful software that allows companies to turn their vision of an interactive call flow into reality. In sight IVR is built on a software platform that has been developed over the last 20 years. The product has been proven around the world to be flexible, robust, and reliable 1
  2. 2. The software consists of two main parts: 1. The Call Handling Engine 2. The Application Generator The Application Generator The Insight IVR Application Generator is extremely flexible and powerful tool that allows almost any voice application to be created. IVR is a generic term identifying the interaction of an Automated System with a caller via a telephone keypad. As the name implies, the automated system can provide automated voice responses based on the caller’s touchtone interaction with the system. With PEC’s IVR application generator module, system users can dynamically create their own call flows based on their own requirements. As well, data can be extracted from a database, text file or external application and played over the phone using Text to Speech Functionality or the call flow direction can be set based on the data values. From the time the caller dials an IVR phone number, the prompts and caller interaction is defined by the IVR application. The Call Handling Engine The Insight IVR system works in conjunction with Central Office Switches (Telephone Company), PBX switches, or VoIP Gateways (SWITCH). When a caller calls a subscriber number, the SWITCH routes the call to the Insight IVR system. Based on the DNIS (Dialed number) there will be a predefined IVR application linked to this DNIS which will be launched upon receiving the call. The call flow is then managed by the created IVR. Insight IVR: Features The following is just a small list of features that Insight IVR has to offer: 2
  3. 3. Web Based Reporting 1. Generate Hourly, Daily, Monthly or Yearly Graphs on Calls with one click 2. Extremely User Friendly Interface 3. Generate Summary Reports / Invoices to send to Customers 4. View Detailed Summaries & Invoices for Each DID 5. Set the Date/Time Format you wish to display based on the country. Unlimited Number of Call Flows 1. Insight IVR allows you to create an unlimited number of call flows. 2. IVR Scripts can be triggered based on the Access Number (DID) or Mailbox Number Dialed. So, if you had 50 Access Numbers (DID) into your system, each could trigger a different call flow. 3. Even if your system has only 24 lines, you can still have thousands of IVR applications Text to Speech 1. Text to Speech is an extremely simple feature to use. 2. Simply type any text into a field and Insight IVR will speak the text to the caller. 3. Eliminates the need to record prompts. 4. Allows for quick, on-the-fly changes to a script. 5. High-quality, Professional Sounding Voice. Speech Recognition 1. Insight IVR’s Speech Recognition feature makes customer interaction with your system quick, convenient, and simple. 2. Insight’s Speech Recognition module recognizes words, names, spoken letters, and numbers. 3. Callers can spell names, order products, enter account numbers and zip codes, all without entering a single touch tone on their phone. Touch Tone Detection 3
  4. 4. 1. The most common method through which Insight communicates with a customers is through Touch Tone. Customers can choose from a list of selections, enter account numbers, enter their security code, etc, all through the numeric keypad on their phones. 2. Insight allows you to specify the number of digits to expect and the maximum amount of time to wait in between digits to make the call flow as seamless as possible. Database Interaction 1. Many IVR applications require database interactivity. Insight provides interaction with multiple databases such as Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, dBase, FoxPro, SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, Informix, Text Files and many others. It is also ODBC compliant. 2. Insight IVR can perform all the standard database actions such as Reading, Writing, and Querying. Voice Messaging 1. Insight IVR provides voice messaging capabilities whereby callers can access the IVR system, leave messages, retrieve messages, and review messages. 2. Each message is individually dated and time stamped and kept in the order they were received 3. There is no limit to how long a message can be, and as soon as the message is left, it is available for your IVR application to access. Call Transferring 4
  5. 5. 1. Insight IVR allows you to transfer callers dynamically to other telephone lines. Callers can be transferred with a blind transfer (unconditionally) or with a supervised transfer (monitor the call status before transferring). 2. Insight also supports call patching, whereby multiple callers can be connected together into the same conversation. Voice To Email 1. Insight IVR can take a voice message and deliver it to any specified email address. 2. This feature allows subscribers to listen to messages on their computers and then archive the messages appropriately on their own computer. 3. Since the message is sent via standard email, the email can be opened from any Internet terminal in the world which gives subscribers mobility and flexibility. Fax To Email 1. Insight IVR can receive and send faxes. When Insight receives a fax, it can deliver it to any specified email address. 2. This feature allows subscribers to view their faxes on their computers and then archive the faxes appropriately on their own computer. 3. Since the fax is sent via standard email, your subscribers can take their virtual fax machine with them anywhere in the world. Email IVR can be used to send emails dynamically, with or without attachment files. For example, if your IVR application is designed to take orders for Auto Parts, the Email feature of Insight can automatically email the order information to the manufacturer so 5
  6. 6. that they can drop ship the item to that customer. Outdial Capability 1. Insight IVR allows you to dynamically call out to customers & clients. 2. Based on the status of the call, whether it be busy, no answer, connect, answering machine, fax machine, or operator intercept, Insight allows you to choose what action to perform. Read/Write Text File 1. Insight IVR allows you to read and write to both text and CSV files. This Read feature allows you to dynamically read any information from a text file into your application. This feature is often used for data that is constantly changing. 2. The Write feature is usually used to keep a call log or an event log of caller activity. Launch Program Insight IVR allows you to run another program or call the dispatch function of a DLL file from within IVR. This feature can be used in several practical ways including running Notepad, virus scan, disk defragmenter, disk backup, file compression (ZIP) or any other program. Insight ™ I V R System The need for a human operator to handle a high volume of simple repetitive phone calls is a thing of the past. Today, computer telephony integration (CTI) leverages the power and versatility of computers to enhance phone systems with automated applications that answer and direct calls and even provide callers with the information they require – many times without having to speak to a call center agent. Most customers have experienced automated call systems at one time or another. Have you ever called a business and been 6
  7. 7. greeted by a voice prompting you to press (or say) a number to choose from a menu of options? You were interacting with either an auto attendant or an interactive voice response (IVR) system. An auto attendant is a system that is integrated into an existing phone system or an external server to answer incoming phone calls. The auto attendant provides callers with a menu of options for navigating the phone system to reach the department or phone number they desire. An auto attendant can be quite simple, or it can provide advanced features such as voice recognition and text -to-speech translation. However, an auto attendant is unable to retrieve information from other systems, limiting its ability to be truly interactive. On the other hand, IVR provides all the features of an auto attendant plus the ability to use input from callers to interact with separate external systems. IVR systems can improve call center efficiency with recorded, frequently requested information or by routing callers to the most relevant agent based on their input. IVR systems retrieve information requested by callers and present it in a variety of ways, such as a recorded or synthesized voice, fax, web page, or even an email. The advantage of an IVR system is that applications can be customized for almost any situation imaginable to accommodate callers’ requests. For instance, IVR allows customers to call their credit card company, and by inputting their account number and password, get real-time information about their current account balance, amount of credit available, payoff information, etc. Or, someone might use the airline’s IVR to check if his flight is on time before leaving for the airport. IVR systems are used to remove the burden from human representatives and get customers the information they need quickly. The examples listed are only a few of the numerous implementations that are possible. IVR Elements 7
  8. 8. An IVR system is typically a separate server that contains digital signal processing (DSP)hardware that analyzes and reproduces voice patterns. The IVR server interacts with a phone system through a dedicated connection. The way in which the IVR server is connected to the phone system depends on its capabilities and physical connections. An IVR can be connected to a key system, PBX, or other type of phone switch through analog ports, digital ports, and even a LAN or WAN connection. A unique quality of IVR is its ability to interact with many different systems to gather and present information back to a caller. IVR can access external databases, retrieve the information it needs, and present it back to the caller over the phone through a synthesized voice, or it can use a fax, web, or email systems. If the customer requests it, his call can be put through to live agent as well. A new trend in IVR technology is to allow access to the same information as a web browser using speech recognition technology to transmit the web site pages. A customer can access the web via the IVR, respond to voice prompts, ask questions, and if stuck or requiring additional information, default to a live agent from the IVR. From inside a call center, IVR information can be passed to call agents through screen popups, eliminating the need for a customer to constantly repeat information – and at the same time preparing the agent for the upcoming call. Also, an automatic call distributor (ACD) can use information gathered by the IVR application to route calls to the correct department, making it much easier for customers to get the service they require without being transferred from agent to agent. IVR Benefits IVR systems provide customers with many services such as fax on demand, secure access to confidential account information, general information such as phone numbers and working hours, and an easy way to navigate through a complex phone system. From a business perspective, IVR adds to customer satisfaction by giving customers what they want, and several options to get it. If the customer is satisfied, the IVR system will pay 8
  9. 9. for itself through increased sales. IVR systems also reduce call center costs by fielding the bulk of routine calls, allowing live agents to handle only the calls that require specialized skills. Fewer agents perform the same amount of work and maintain the quality of the call center. IVR systems also extend business hours, allowing customers to retrieve information or even place orders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whether agents are working or not. Businesses also benefit when the IVR system is used to inform callers about products and services during hold time. Additionally, an IVR system provides detailed information about call center activity and services that customers access, making it easy to tailor a call center to the specific needs of the customer and streamline operations to reduce waste. Maximizing your IVR Most customers have had pleasant – or frustrating – experiences with IVR systems. An IVR system is only as good as its design, and a poor design can do more harm than good for a business if customer satisfaction decreases due to an IVR implementation. Below are some guidelines for planning an effective IVR solution. 1.Scalability Meeting current needs is an important goal, but an IVR solution should be easy to modify to support company’s changing needs. Lines should be easily added or removed, additional features should be easily installed, and the IVR system should interoperate with existing equipment to reduce the need for additional interfaces and equipment. 2.Performance 9
  10. 10. IVR systems come in all shapes and sizes. An underpowered IVR can cause customers to become impatient, and it may even drop calls because it cannot handle the volume of incoming traffic. It’s important that an IVR system is able to handle the current number of incoming lines at maximum capacity. 3.Customer satisfaction IVR solutions should be designed with the customer in mind. Menus should be logically designed, and the options should be explained in a way that anyone can understand. Because it’s difficult for callers to remember a long list of menu items, it’s important to keep the number of options to a minimum and include the ability to repeat the choices. While it is possible to record your own IVR menus, it is often preferable to have an agency record the voice of the IVR to make it as clear and professional as possible. Finally, an effective way to ensure that your IVR is effective is to monitor the IVR logs to see how many calls are dropped, as dropped calls are an indication of customer frustration with the phone system. About PEC’s Insight Applications Generator The Insight IVR is an application generator that allows you full connectivity to the most popular databases including Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Fox Pro, dBase, bTrieve, Paradox, or standard text files. The Insight IVR can be used to read information from databases, write information to databases, as well as query databases and return information. Insight IVRTM performs over 40 different, customizable commands. You can setup properties for each command just as if you were executing the commands manually. The Insight IVR applications are not stand alone applications. Applications are executed inside of a mailbox on your system. Insight IVR supports T1, E1, ISDN, DID, and analog interfaces. Callers can dial into an application directly or dial into the system and select an application to use. The Insight IVR runs on Intel Dialogic (digital and analog) boards. The Insight IVR will execute any application you create when a caller dials in. By using 10
  11. 11. DTMF, you can allow callers to interact with the system. Advanced database technology allows you to read, write, append, search, and seek database information, you can record your product inventory, setup games, keep track of your customers or patients, or virtually any other application you can think of. The advanced, innovative technology, backed by a simple, easy to use, drag and drop interface ma kes writing applications easy. Databases Supported Many applications require a database interface with an IVR system. Insight provides emulation and links to many databases such as: 1. Microsoft Access 2. DBase 3. Foxpro 4. MS-SQL Server 5. ODBC, I 6. nformix 7. Oracle and many others. Insight also can connect to IBM’s AS-400 and support the DB2 database. Data runs between the IVR system and the database application through specific variables. Applications can run embedded, be created on the fly, or through import/export facilities. Fax Support Winfax interface The Insight software can make use of the Winfax software from Semantic for sending out fax documents. You need a separate phone line for Winfax. Rightfax The Insight software can also interface with the Rightfax server software. 11
  12. 12. Intel Dialogic Fax The Insight software has full support for the fax technology provided by the Intel Corporation. The software can make use of the same phone line for voice and fax. The software supports the option of one call or two calls. For one call the caller calls from his machine and requests a document and then presses the Start button to receive his fax. Call Bridging Call Bridging is a technique where a call arrives on one telephone line and goes out on another telephone line. The Insight software can receive a call on one telephone line and call out on another line and connect the caller to the called party. This feature is useful for digital trunks and other situations where the phone company does not provide the call transfer feature. In some cases a caller presses “0” and wishes to talk to an operator, Insight transfers the call to a live person by bridging the calls. Credit Card Authorization Module This module allows your callers to pay by their credit cards. In many cases if the caller wants to pay by a credit card, the Insight software asks the caller to enter his credit card number and the expiration date. Then the software invokes the Credit Card Authorization Module and sends a transaction to the credit card processing company. After the software receives the credit card authorization code, it concludes the call session. Phone Systems Supported The Insight software supports most of the telephones in operation. Caller ID Support 12
  13. 13. The Insight software makes full uses of the Caller ID. It logs the all the calls received with the associated Caller ID’s. It can also log the touch-tone keys the caller presses for further analysis. Computer System Requirements 1. Intel Pentium III or higher processor 2. Windows 2000 Professional or higher 3. 256 Megabytes of RAM 4. 3.5" Floppy Drive 5. CD-RW Drive 6. 20 GB or larger Hard Drive (Note: 10MB = 1 Hour of voice) 7. 56KHz US Robotics Modem 8. pcAnywhere or Remote Admin Remote Support Software 9. VGA display card, VGA monitor 10. Keyboard, Mouse 11. Database Software 12. 4 Port or Digital Voice Response Board(s) Controlling IVRS performance A system of controlling performance in an interactive voice response system includes a voice device driver, a voice segment stored in a file in a directory in a standard operating system format; a buffer for storing the voice segment prior to sending to the voice device driver and a plurality of voice channels for output of the voice segment. A sequence of voice blocks is requested to be sent to a buffer, the sequence being one of a plurality of sequences making up a voice segment. The number of voice blocks sent from the file to the buffer is determined. The play period of the sequence and the next underrun time when the sequence will finish playing based on the initiate request time and the play period are calculated. Also calculated is the margin period between the calculated next underrun time and the actual time after a further sequence of voice data blocks is sent to the buffer in response to a device driver request for a further sequence of voice data 13
  14. 14. blocks. A telephony channel is shut down when the margin period exceeds a defined threshold. Do Your Voice Response Services Work Correctly? Voice response services used, for instance, to check a mobile phone mailbox are a common feature of everyday life, and such use of telecommunication equipment will only continue to increase. Testing such systems is essential for network operators to ensure the quality of their services and maintain customers satisfaction. Because IVR systems are highly sophisticated, they are difficult to test using conventional methods. At present, standard practice involves complicated test runs in which frustrated employees manually test telephone IVR systems. I V R Software for Windows IVM is a telephone interactive voice response (IVR) program for Windows. This software lets you create an effective info-line, audiotext, or automated phone system solution for your business. Callers navigate menus and prompts by pressing numbers on their telephone. Menu commands can record and replay messages, transfer calls and perform a number of other functions. Typical Applications 1. Telephone information lines, hotline or audiotext type systems. 2. Call attendant (using menu(s) to transfer and direct calls). 3. Computer Telephony Integration (cti software applications). 4. Voice Over Internet Protocol IVR (voip ivr software applications). 5. Interactive automated telephone order taking. 6. Automated ivr inbound or outbound telephone surveys (using the number entry features linked to a database). 14
  15. 15. 7. Voicemail (from a single answering message to hundreds of voice mailboxes). 8. Credit card telephone account payment. 9. Dial in computer control or information (eg. Dial in to test security alarm or to restart server). 10. Automatic outbound call message systems (eg. telemarketing and notification systems). 11. Fax on demand systems. 12. Many more telephone related applications. Setting up a system is easy. Download the software and install it on any Windows PC. For professional or multiline installations we recommend a telephony board to connect to the phone line(s). For home single line use a voice modem in the PC may be sufficient. VoIP services can be used to receive calls directly via the Internet without any special hardware. Features 1. Multiple telephone line support (1 - 64 lines simultaneously). 2. Call key select menus and ability for caller to enter numbers (data entry). 3. Unlimited (selectable) out-going messages and menus. 4. Fully programmable setup with examples and free plugins available for typical applications. 5. Can automatically link to other programs with plugins. 6. Call transfer (subject to your phone company or PBX features). 7. Remote Access (listen to messages by dialing-in) including toll-saver. 8. Call simulator is included so you can test your systems off-line. 9. Unlimited voice mail boxes (each with own email forward, internet access page or remote access). 15
  16. 16. System Requirements • Windows 95/NT4/98/2000/Me/XP/2003/Vista. • To link to phone lines one of the following: o Professional TAPI telephony card (eg. CallURL, CAHTA, Synway etc.) o VoIP (SIP) service for voice over IP lines. o Voice Modem (TAPI compliant) 16
  17. 17. Conclusion An IVR system is a powerful tool for increasing customer satisfaction, and it can help reduce the overall cost of a call center while maintaining or even increasing the number of incoming calls. However, too much of a good thing can be counter-productive. A balance of automation and good old-fashioned customer service is often more effective than a faceless machine, and in today’s highly competitive marketplace, a smiling face and a firm digital handshake can give any business an edge. Bibliography 17
  18. 18. 1) www.intelebiz.com 2) www.applicata.bg 3) www.pecivr.com 18