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Recently, I tried to book air line ticket using IVR from one of the leading private air line operators in India. The ticket booking process was not on IVR, only the payment part using credit card was on IVR actually. The process went like this:

1. I called up the IVR number. It gave me options to choose from menus like booking, check ticket status etc.

2. I selected Ticket booking, it asked for domestic or international and I choose domestic.

3. The IVR transferred my call to an human agent. So I asked the human agent, how the booking would be done. She explained that, she would block the ticket for me after getting my details like name, departure city to arrival city etc., and the call would be transferred to IVR payment gateway where I would have to enter my credit card details. As soon as payment is processed successfully, the IVR will transfer the call to human agent again who would provide ticket number ( PNR) and would email the ticket.

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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.

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It may not be easy to define a successful IVR ( Interactive voice response) System. In single line, one IVR system could be termed successful when it has lowest abandon rate by both genuine new and old callers. When an IVR system is designed to perform some specific task for a caller, if the caller completes those tasks using the IVR easily at the shortest time possible, then the IVR will have very less abandonment rate and the IVR could be termed successful IVR.

For example, if one IVR system retrieves outstanding bill for telephone number, the caller should be able to hear his/her outstanding bill at the shortest possible time, without failure with having to choose minimum options, either using DTMF/Key-press or voice command. If the caller disconnects the call before he hears his outstanding bill amount, then it would be ‘abandon of IVR call’. But if the caller listens to his outstanding bill amount, and then disconnects the call, it is ‘successful IVR call’.

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CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) Boards, Also known as CT Boards (Computer Telephony boards), is the interface between various IVR software running on the computer and the telephone network. It is normally a PC add-on boards which is installed inside PC/Server Chassis and which is connected to telecom network physically with through E1 or Analog FXO.

With introduction of VoIP communications, CTI is no longer just hardware based, it can also be software and using existing network interface cards in the server of PC. For example, Dialogic HMP 3.0 is software CTI like solution for VOIP or SIP phones. With 3G being introduced, we might see end of CTI boards!

Indian CTI market is getting crowded with new vendors now a days. Gone are the days when CTI boards mean Dialogic. We now have almost all vendors opening shop in India from all over the globe. Many Chinese companies have opened office in India and selling low cost CTI boards in price sensitive market like India.

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Dialogic Corporation (“Dialogic”), a global provider of world-class products and technologies for multimedia and signal processing, today launched its inCloud9™ network, a free, cloud-based developer network designed to make it easier and more efficient for developers to test Dialogic products while building new

Dialogic Launched InCloud9

applications. Specifically, the inCloud9 network provides application developers with access to products, technical documentation and support for creating innovative new voice and video-enabled value-added services, without requiring local server hardware or a development environment.

Developers can securely develop applications using inCloud9 resources that are functionally partitioned and assigned to them. They are initially provided login credentials that enable them to access the site via a VPN connection. Development tools can then be accessed to create prototype applications that can be functionally tested with dedicated server resources running both Dialogic and third party products. inCloud9 also serves as a community for developers, and allows them to communicate and interact with others that have similar interests.

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I attended VAS Asia 2010 held today in New Delhi. While writing my previous post about widely used IVR systems in India, I put IVR for Value Added Service at the top. If the overwhelming presence of CTI board manufacturers with stalls and two IVR platform provider any indication, then we are surely seeing some boom in IVR VAS in India! Incidentally, the last year too, there were many CTI board manufacturers in the same exhibition!

VAS Asia

VAS Asia 2010 Conference

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The usage of IVR is growing in India. IVR has been used for long time in India like any other country in the world. These IVR systems were majorly used as train status information, flight status information and other few complaint lodging/booking system. And at that time ( before 1997), India had very low telecom density. After telecom boom in 1999, telecom density in India has grown to over 44% by 2010. Until recently, India was adding almost 10m telephone ( both land line and mobile) users per month.

Usage of IVR has also seen growth int the same period. Also, IVR systems are being used in many new areas increasingly. In my opinion, there are four major areas where IVR is being increasingly used in India :-

1. IVR as Value Added Service
2. IVR in Call Center/Contact Center
3. IVR in payment gateways
4. IVR for traditional usage like complaint management, Railway enquiry etc.

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What is IVR short code ?
IVR (Interactive Voice Response) short code can be defined as special telephone number which has ‘less’ digits in it than traditional full length telephone number. This kind of special ‘short code’ are mainly used for special purposes like customer care for telephone/mobile subscribers, VAS ( Value Added Service) access either SMS/MMS ( Short Messaging Service/Multimedia Messaging Service) or IVR based, public utility services etc.
With recent ‘VAS boom’ all around the world in telephone and mobile industry, short-code has become quite well known and many people want to ‘have’ it! While, short code is nothing but telephone number with less number of digits in it, it has become very special special as it is always associated with some special service as well as special charging for calling to it! For any VAS short code, it is charged premium while for any customer care service, it is free of charge for the caller.

Different countries have different policies about short code used for IVR access or SMS/MMS access. Normally any short-code has length of 5 digits and can have customisable suffix for specific service.

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What is IVR short code ?
IVR (Interactive Voice Response) short code can be defined as special telephone number which has ‘less’ digits in it than traditional full length telephone number. This kind of special ‘short code’ are mainly used for special purposes like customer care for telephone/mobile subscribers, VAS ( Value Added Service) access either SMS/MMS ( Short Messaging Service/Multimedia Messaging Service) or IVR based, public utility services etc.
With recent ‘VAS boom’ all around the world in telephone and mobile industry, short-code has become quite well known and many people want to ‘have’ it! While, short code is nothing but telephone number with less number of digits in it, it has become very special special as it is always associated with some special service as well as special charging for calling to it! For any VAS short code, it is charged premium while for any customer care service, it is free of charge for the caller.

Different countries have different policies about short code used for IVR access or SMS/MMS access. Normally any short-code has length of 5 digits and can have customisable suffix for specific service.

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One of the advantages of using Donjin boards is easy portability of C++ codes written for Dialogic boards to Donjin boards! It should not take more than one hour for porting C++ codes from Dialogic boards to Donjin boards. Though, recently introduced KeyGoe series of products from Donjin has totally different API than of Dialogic, but its TDMA CTI boards like DN300, DN600 etc. uses ‘similar’ API as that of Dialogic boards!

Dialogic


Donjin also uses Dialogic-like Device Configuration Manager which is easier to configure than Dialogic DCM. Though I think Donjin Device Configuration manager lack many features which Dialogic DCM provides. Like Dialogic, Donjin also provides ‘text’ file based various configuration for telephone interface, caller ID etc. depending on the protocol. Donjin has more user friendly diagnostics tools that Dialogic.

Donjin Boards support Dialogic API

Here is the step I used for porting Dialogic C++ codes to Donjin boards in less than an hour:-
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