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Key Press through during prompt announcement in IVR

One of the most irritating aspect of IVR ( Interactive Voice Response) System is having to listen to the complete prompt before making a choice. While this is essential for first time dialer to the IVR system, it is really irritating and time consuming for regular callers who already know the options. So, many IVR systems give an option to press option Keys during the announcement is going on. While using speech enabled IVR where commands are entered through voice, the same procedure is followed.

So a good IVR System should be intelligent enough to recognise the first time caller and frequent caller by capturing and storing Caller ID. This may be useful specially in customer support IVR provided in Telecom companies. It may increase usability of IVR to some extent. Also, there are many IVR applications where entering data by DTMF is much faster, accurate and desirable.

But this same “Key Press Through” can be a reason for other type of problems in some cases. In many practical IVR implementation, multiple Keys (DTMF – Dual Tone Multiple Frequency) or digits required to be captured in the form of PIN ( Personal Identification Number ), Credit Card Number, Customer ID number, Mobile Number, Date format in DD-MM-YY format, amount etc.

These multiple digits entries are normally terminated by pressing HASH key (#) or Star (*) Key or some time just maximum allowed digits or maximum allowed inter digit pause.

For example, it is always a practice in IVR to get the multiple numbers or values entered by IVR user confirmed by pressing 1, to renter press 2. So in a scenario of entering Customer ID of 5 digits length, IVR caller is allowed to press 12345# or just 12345. In both ways, if the IVR user presses the numbers correctly and wait for some response from IVR, it is good, but what happens when a user presses like 123451 continuously or 12345#1 continuously ? Chances are, if the press through is enabled, the IVR will skip the next confirmation step having received the key 1 already pressed and user will not even hear the confirmation prompt!

Also, it is important to decide how the error prompts a well as time out prompt would be played depending on the number of digits entered. Many clients may want to play an “Invalid Customer ID” prompts when a caller enters 123451 as it exceeds maximum length of Customer ID. Explaining these small but important features, options to customer might become cumbersome when clients do not understand them!

But it will also serve as shortcut for the smart IVR user who can bypass the irritating confirmation step by already pressing 1 along with the Customer ID.

So, in case the IVR wants the user to listen out the confirmation prompt, IVR developer can disable “Key Press Through” feature while playing Confirmation prompt, while allowing it in longer menu option prompts.

This is a small details while developing your IVR applications, but this can improve usability of the IVR and also improve accuracy of data entered by user. It will also make smart and regular IVR users happy as it provide them a shortcut to avail the information provided by the IVR.

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