Hosted IVR services are in still nascent state as such, except Bulk Voice Calling, which has grown on the back of SMS ( Short Messaging Service) mass messaging after Mobile Phone revolution in India! But still, hosted IVR Service providers face many problems, majorly from telecom service providers.
Lately, many companies have understood benefit of Hosted IVR services, but still they find the cost high. Though the cost seems much lower compared to IVR hosting Services in other countries like United States of America, United Kingdom etc.
Here are few problems which are faced by Hosted IVR Service providers in India :-
1. High Outbound Call cost
Though the mobile phone call rate in India is very cheap compared to other countries, but the story is not that simple for enterprise PRI line call costs. First, India is divided into 23 circles and there is differential charging for inter circle and intra-circle calls. Intra-circle cost is cheaper than Inter Circle ( known as STD or NLD ) cost. Then again, the cost for mobile phones does not apply to PRI lines. The cost for all circles uniform cost which is a requirement for Hosted IVR Service, starts with one rupee depending on the call volume committed!
But a normal customer is used to hearing about cost something like 1paise per 10 seconds which are available for Mobile Phone subscriber! So, it is really difficult to convince customers about high cost of outbound calls.
2. High Inter-operator Connectivity cost
There is a cost which customer has to pay is for inter operator connectivity cost! While mobile operators charge and collect payment from their subscribers for inter-operator connectivity, operators often go into dispute among themselves resulting in suspension of routing calls between them. Recently, both Reliance infocomm and stat run telecom company BSNL ( Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) had suspended connectivity between each other!
And it was only for enterprise solutions, not for normal Mobile of Telephone users. So it resulted many inconvenience to Hosted IVR service providers, Toll free number owners etc.
3. Frequent Downtime
Though India boasts of fastest growing telecom market, the quality of service is relatively poor! Though many telecom operators claim to have up-time more than 99.8%, in reality, it is much lower at 94-95% only! Since Hosted IVR service providers depend on Telephony infrastructure, they also suffer downtime accordingly which reduces customer trust on Hosted IVR services.
4. Problem in quick capacity enhancement
Many telecom providers provide PRI links from their BTS or switch using RF link. This has limitation of increasing capacity when required. So if some one wants to increase capacity, it takes some two months time to get new PRI connections. So, hosted IVR service provider has to either invest heavily and carry the burden of unused PRI lines, or wait 2 months period for capacity enhancements.
5. Lack of IP telephony
Lack of IP telephony in India is one hindrance, I think, which is hampering growth of IVR service, specially in call centre field. IP Telephony can not be bridged to any land-line or mobile phone network due to security reasons. With high outbound calls and lack of IP Telephony is hampering many hosted IVR applications being provided by IVR hosting companies.
VoIP or IP Telephony can lower high outbound cost in India.
6. Tier 2 & 3 cities do not have many Operators
Smaller cities, apart from metros, not many telecom companies have built up infrastructure to provide PRI lines. Presently, only BSNL and Reliance seems to be capable of provide PRI connectivity in all cities in India. This has also resulted in lack of competition and monopoly as well as poor service and own time.
So, till the telecom infrastructure and quality of service by telecom service providers, Hosted IVR service in India will always be handicapped!
*With feedback from Ankit Bhargava, Director – Marketing, Niche Tech Services (P) Ltd.