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Interactive Voice Response.
An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system enables the delivery of relatively simple business transactions via a series of automated voice prompts, to which the user can interact through either DTMF(Dual Tone Multi-Frequency) key strokes or spoken utterances. In the case of systems with spoken utterance interaction, automatic voice recognition (AVR) technology is used in one form or another to support this, which is why IVRs are often confused with the terminology AVRs.

Originally introduced as a media for significantly reducing operational costs, these systems have now become increasingly advanced, offering more effective and quicker interaction with the supplying organisation. Their penetration has spread from low value retail transactions to fairly sophisticated financial transactions.

An increase in social acceptance witnessed over the past years is enabling this technology to transcend industries, although a number of poor implementations have impacted both the speed of adoption and acceptance. Typical applications of this technology include:

¤ welcome messages and queuing
¤ customer identification
¤ call routing
¤ relatively simple business transactions
¤ and any combination of the above.

In addition, IVR systems have successfully been adopted to provide a number of complete vertical applications:

¤ banking and finance
¤ utilities
¤ government
¤ transport & travel
¤ retail
¤ and many more.

This delivery channel has become so widely spread that some customers now actually prefer conducting simple transactions via an automated service, bypassing the need to contact a customer service representative at all. Indeed, public opinion can actually frown upon organisations without such functionality.

For more information, please refer to Strategies for IVR systems.

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