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If your contact center is overwhelmed by the number of calls each day, it might be time to invest in Interactive Voice Response, or IVR.
The technology allows customers to interact directly with the computer through keypad inputs or voice recognition, improving call center efficiency and reducing the number of live agents you need on staff.
Companies opt for IVR for a variety of reasons: to better manage large call volumes, reduce costs, improve customer service or to extend business hours past the traditional work day.
About Interactive Voice Response
IVR is a valuable service to customers who want to pay bills, place service requests or access information without speaking to an agent. Consumers are accustomed to using IVR to do thing like check bank account balances, book flights, refill prescriptions or access movie show times. However, IVR can also be a source of frustration if it is poorly designed or implemented. You'll want to make sure that customers can access the information they need with the fewest possible steps.
IVR can also be used for outbound calls. The technology is often used to conduct telephone surveys because it is faster and more efficient that having a live agent dial hundreds or thousands of numbers. Survey respondents are also likely to answer more honestly than if they were speaking to a live person. IVR technology can also be used to send appointment reminders or order status information.
Interactive Voice Response software can be installed in-house, where it is managed by your own IT staff, or you can choose hosted software that is managed by an outside provider. You'll have more control over in-house IVR software, but it will cost you more upfront and you'll need IT professionals who know how to manage it.
Interactive Voice Response Prices
It's difficult to estimate the cost of IVR because it varies greatly based on the size of your company, the features you choose, the number of lines you need and the difficulty of installation. Often, IVR is purchased as part of a comprehensive call center software package.
For in-house IVR, prices start at around $1,500 per line for small businesses. Mid-sized business can expect to pay tens of thousands of dollars to implement IVR, while large corporations and enterprises may see costs reach the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The price per line generally decreases with the more lines you add.
- Database Systems Corp. offers a four-line, in-house IVR starting at $6,500. Development costs start at $500 but can run far higher if the system implementation is complex. After the first year, an optional maintenance contract can be purchased at an additional cost.
Hosted IVR is less expensive, beginning at around $800 per line for small- and medium-sized businesses.
- Voicent Communications, for example, offers a two-line enterprise version for $1,200 and a four-line enterprise version for about $1,500.
Although IVR requires a significant investment, if your business is large enough or busy enough to need the technology, you can expect to recoup the costs in the long run in reduced staffing expenses and better customer retention.