IVR 101

My very first contract voicing telephone prompts was with Telus — the telco conglomerate in Alberta — who hired me to voice their mobility platform. I attended a meeting where they were discussing which prompts were needed, and what time committment would be required of me (in the formative stages: considerable. I remember a particular session where I was kept captive for hours voicing every country, city, town and hamlet on the Globe. Even Burkina Faso.)

I kept hearing the term “IVR” and was forced to pipe up — completely showing my newbie status — and asking: “What’s IVR?” The project manager smiled, and apologised for presuming that a (then) outsider to telephony was up on the vernacular.

“It’s “Interactive Voice Response”, he explained — and it means any time you encounter an automated phone tree which either responds to keypad presses or vocal commands to direct your call for it to be processed in a more effcient way, rather than a receptionist sorting everything out at the point of the main entry telephone line.

He further illustrated it with an image that I’ve never forgotten: it’s like a bunch of people boarding an escalator. When they get to the top, there’s someone “sorting” everyone into specific groups — for example — people with red jackets are directed to the left, the people wearing blue jackets are directed to the right. In each individual stream there can be further sub-categorizing: red jacket people with blond hair are directed in yet another direction; red-jacket people with brown hair are directed in another direction, and so on. It’s a way of ensuring that calls are organized and ultimately handled by the appropriate person or department — eliminating the human costs of making those decisions — and, ultimately, getting you to the right person to begin with. At least that’s the dream.

Next: I’ll outline what I preceive to be the Top 10 Mistakes of IVR Systems — and simple things to do to correct them._MG_5590


1 Comment »

  1. […] blog: IVR 101 — some basics for those thinking of delving into writing IVR prompts. Related websites: […]

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