By Matt Ervin, Co-Founder of Plum Voice
Finally having been recognized for its use beyond basic call center routing and distribution, IVR (interactive voice response) is being deployed for a myriad of business processes among a diverse range of industries. From facilitating customer service to enabling workflow, IVR brings self-service automation to sectors like real estate, financial service, consumer goods, insurance, and healthcare to name a few.. And thanks to innovation made possible by VoiceXML, IVR solutions, in the form of pre-built applications, are easier to deploy, simpler to maintain and more attainable for companies of all sizes.
As with any technology that goes main stream, the process of making purchasing decisions involves assessment of certain factors such as functionality, reliability, usability, manageability, price, and scalability. For pre-built IVR applications, however, to make informed buying decisions, businesses need to know how each of these criteria is relevant within the context of IVR solutions. Following are guides for questions you should be asking when selecting a pre-built IVR application:
Ease Of Use: How Difficult Is It To Deploy And Manage The IVR Application?
It shouldn’t be rocket science to deploy a pre-built IVR application. Business managers with little technical knowledge should be able to configure and deploy it. Unfortunately, most pre-built IVR solutions aren’t user-friendly enough so that non-technical staff can deploy and maintain them. Look for pre-built IVR applications specifically with user-friendly interfaces that make the process of configuration and deployment simple, straightforward and intuitive.
Functionality: What Kind Of Functionality (Call Flow) Should My Pre-Built IVR Application Have?
Companies that are exploring the possibility of deploying IVR can benefit by starting off with small steps. Simple functions make good introductions for companies new to the concept of self-service via phone. For customer service, for example, basic functions such as account balance access or order status retrieval make good ideal starting points. Beginning with simple tasks enables you to evaluate how callers interact with the system and from there adjust accordingly. This provides a strong foundation for a path to building more sophisticated, custom IVR applications that offer more complex functionality.
Reliability: What Kinds Of things Are In Place To Ensure Minimal Downtime For My Application?
Pre-built applications deployed via a hosted infrastructure will provide measures to minimize downtime. Look for providers who have a carrier-grade infrastructure featuring class-A datacenters. Just as important as a superior hosting infrastructure is the team of professionals behind it. Make sure your application will be supported by IVR professionals who know the ins and outs of the application’s underlying VoiceXML platform.
Manageability: How Much Time And Effort Will I Have To Devote To Administration Of The Application?
Time and effort spent on pre-built IVR application administration should be minimal. The point of deploying a pre-built IVR solution is to take advantage of the ease of launch, administration and maintenance. Securing each of these benefits can be done only via a pre-built infrastructure, which is exactly what a hosted environment provides. Look for providers that provide service options to monitor and manage your applications at the levels that suit your business needs.
Scalability: How Will My IVR Needs Evolve Or Fluctuate Over Time?
Think strategically about your IVR investment and look for vendors who can scale your application in terms of call volume handling. Also, look for providers who have a professional services team that can also do custom applications as your functional needs also scale.
About Plum Voice:
Plum Voice is a single-source provider of carrier-class IVR (Interactive Voice Response) solutions. Plum offers, pre-built IVR applications, hosted IVR services, turnkey IVR systems, and professional services to design and build custom IVR applications. Plum works with companies of all sizes across a broad range of industries
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2007