IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response. It refers to a technology that allows a computer to interact with humans through the use of voice and DTMF ( dual- tone multi frequency) tones input via keypad. IVR technology is also employed in telecommunication systems where it allows customers to interact with a company’s host system through a telephone keypad or by speech recognition, after which services can be inquired about through the IVR dialogue. IVR systems can respond with prerecorded or dynamically generated audio. This directs the users on how to proceed further. A single large IVR system has the ability to handle calls for thousands of applications, each with its own phone numbers and script.

IVR and voice automation allows callers’ queries to be resolved without the need for queuing and incurring the cost of a live agent. IVR systems are employed for the following reasons:

i) to service high call volumes

ii) reduce cost

iii) improve the customer experience

In situations where callers do not find the information they require or need further assistance, the calls are often transferred to an agent. This allows agents have more time to deal with complex interactions, hence, improving the system’s efficiency. Dialled number identification service (DNIS) ensures the execution of correct application and language when an IVR system answers multiple phone numbers.

There are a number of fields where IVR systems find their applications. Some of them are as follows:

i) IVR systems are used in call centers to identify and segment callers. This allows the services to be tailored according to the customer profile.

ii) IVR systems are employed by banking institutions for customer engagement and to extend business hours to a 24/7 operation.

iii) Pharmaceutical companies leverage these systems to conduct clinical trials and manage the large volumes of data generated. In addition to this, they are also used for patient randomization, drug supply management and for recording patient diaries and questionnaires

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