Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Interactive voice response
In telephony, interactive voice response, or IVR, is a computerised 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.
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.
IVR systems are found operating telephone banking services, voicemail systems are similar to IVR systems but offer limited functionality. IVR systems can be used to create services from telephone banking, order placement, caller identification and airline ticket booking. ACD systems are often the first point of contact when calling many larger businesses. IVR systems are generally used at the front end of call centers to identify what service the caller wants and to extract numeric information such as account numbers as well as provide answers to simple questions such as account balances or allow pre-recorded information to be heard.
IVR systems are often criticised as being unhelpful and difficult to use due to poor design and lack of appreciation of the callers' needs. A properly designed IVR system should connect callers to their desired service promptly and with a minimum of fuss.
IVR call flows are created in a variety of ways: while older systems depended upon proprietary programming or scripting languages, modern systems are structured similar to WWW pages, using the VoiceXML language. This allows any Web server to act as an application server, freeing the developer to focus on the call flow. Developers then also no longer require specialized programming skills, as any Web developer already has all the tools needed to create an IVR call flow.
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