There are few parameters or features of IVR which are important and are common to almost any type of IVR application. These parameters play very important role in making the voice application more user friendly. These parameters are used at many stages in IVR software or in any call flow. I hope, knowing these would help people who are looking to develop an IVR or looking to purchase IVR software.
These are very small parameters, but they may play crucial role in reducing call abandon rate in IVR. Some of them are :-
1. Allowing or not allowing caller to press a key while IVR plays the menu options
IVR may be configured to accept or to reject any key press while caller is listening the menu options. Allowing to press key during playing of menu allows caller to ‘cut through‘ the IVR menus and reach his desired IVR stage or menu quickly. But it may also increase chances of wrong key press, specially when some menus options are changed. Many regular caller may not like to hear known menus again and again.
2. Duration to allow a caller to press any key or voice command
Waiting time for callers key press or voice command may become crucial. During wait period, IVR does not play anything and become silent, so if this wait period is too long, caller may think the IVR is not responding, so disconnect the call.
3. How many times to play a same menu and number of attempts to choose correct menu options
Naturally, people make mistakes while pressing key or may make mistakes intentionally. So, it is important to decide the number of attempts one may try for each and every menu options. This kind of parameter may be required even while accepting some valid input from caller, for example mobile number, customer ID, complaint ticket etc. If this is not defined, then some caller may occupy some channel of the IVR unnecessarily.
4. Confirming menu menu selection of digit (s) pressed or voice command spoken
It is an important decision to make. Should IVR confirm every menu choice made by caller or not! Even in any software, when some one tries to do some important task, it pops up an confirmation window, similarly, IVR also ask confirmation for menu choice! But it may also irritate IVR caller. When using ASR ( Automatic Speech Recognition), confirming every option may become a necessity rather than a choice.
5. Inter-digit pause while expecting more than one DTMF keys as input from caller.
While caller enters multiple digits as input to the IVR, for example, credit card number, phone number, ID number, the duration of pause in between two consecutive DTMF digits or key press is important. Very long inter digit pause may result caller disconnect.
6. Using # ( hash) or star (*) keys to terminate
Deciding to use # or * keys to end entry of multiple digit is a good option. But these keys may also confuse some people who do not know about # or * keys as many of them do not use these keys. In India, many land line phones do not have # key. But with penetration of mobile phones, one may expect people to know about these keys.
These parameters are quite common and many developers use some configuration files or provide user friendly forms to configure.