Recently, I have been getting many messages from this IVR blog visitors asking how to choose right IVR system for their organisation. While majority of the people who asked wanted to automate their customer service process, they have one common requirement, minimum initial investment possible!
IVR (Interactive Voice Response) Systems are available in two ‘forms’, hosted IVR and On Premise IVR. Choosing right IVR solution among these two types, may not be easy. I would try to document few points to consider between the two IVR types.
1. Cost of IVR system
Every IVR system has three cost components apart from general maintenance and up-gradation cost.
a. Cost of CTI hardware as well as Computer Systems
Normally this is fixed and one time cost unless some capacity enhancement is required in future. There are many options for CTI boards now a days, low cost and high cost. For example, Synway, Sangoma at the low cost end and Dialogic at the high cost end.
b. Cost of Customised Voice Application
This is the IVR call flow implementation cost which may include integration with third party application like CRM, Web Services etc. Now a days, many DIY ( Do It Yourself) tools are available in visual or simple TAG based format. For example, visual tools from Invox, Omnivox3d from Apexvoice, Osidial from Ositron, Comsys etc. and VoiceXML, PPHVoice. But one has to invest in either in-house qualified manpower or get the voice application developed from IVR software provider.
c. Telephone Cost
While incoming call is free any telephone number, still there is rental cost associated with even normal telephone connection. Toll free numbers, outbound IVR call are charged ‘per call, per minute’ basis to the IVR owner. Many IVR involves call transfer and it may also cost per call, per minute basis.
In an hosted IVR system, cost component 1.a does not arise but it can not escape the cost components 1.b and 1.c.
In on premise IVR system, 1.a would be a must along with 1.b and 1.c, but it can escape from call transfer cost by using PABX system. In a call center scenario or where human agent has to interact with IVR caller, the cost of ‘call transfer’ could be quite high in the long run depending on call volume!
2. Flexibility of the Voice Application or IVR Call flow
This is a important factor for choosing an IVR system. There are some IVR application which have fixed call flow and there are some where call flow needs to changed or configured continuously. Flight announcement, Train status, IVR payment are few of IVR applications where the call flow can not be changed being public utility. There are IVR surveys, which need to changed or configured after completion of any survey!
Even IVR in call center need not be changed frequently as it may confuse regular caller. But call center IVR needs many ‘call transfer’ for human interaction with IVR caller.
So, one has to choose between hosted IVR or on premise IVR depending on voice applications running on the IVR system. It may influence the cost of the IVR as well as its maintenance and flexibility.
So, according to me, these two factors should mainly decide what kind of IVR sysetm one should opt, either hosted IVR or on-premise IVR.