If you’ve ever made a call to a business and been answered by a robot, you’ve probably talked to an I.V.R. These automation tools answer phones and handle simple tasks so that operators or customer service professionals don’t have to. The name refers to how the program can dynamically (or semi-dynamically) respond to input from the caller, rather than the caller’s ability to speak to it. Some I.V.R.s can accept voice input, some cannot, but all can assist a caller in completing simple functions.
I.V.R. vs. Auto Attendants
I.V.R.s are sometimes confused for their less-intelligent predecessors, auto attendants. These simple automated phone trees are designed to do just one thing: route a call to its intended destination. They can’t respond to input beyond pulling up the next directory, and lack the sophistication to automate the functions that I.V.R. does so well.
To illustrate the difference, consider cell phones. The mobile devices of yesteryear were effectively just cordless landlines—able to make and receive calls, but nothing else. Modern smartphones now fill many of the functions that computers used to, and are capable of automating a variety of tasks according to how we program and customize them. In this comparison, auto attendants are the flip phones, while I.V.R. systems are the smartphones.
Advantages of I.V.R.
I.V.R. systems offer to the businesses that use them the freedom to let their living, breathing employees handle the real problems. An I.V.R. can automate a wide variety of functions, from bill paying, to purchases, conduct surveys, read caller ID information, and other simple, yes/no answer-based tasks.
The advantages are obvious. For one, with some customers resolving their issues with a machine, the phone queues for customer service reps are shorter, and they move faster. Customers who use the I.V.R. can conduct their business faster since they don’t have to wait in line. From the standpoint of the employees, the workload is lighter, and time isn’t wasted on simple, minor functions. And from the perspective of the company, both the customers and the employees are better served.