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How to choose IVR Solution

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.

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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Nicole April 16, 2010, 8:29 pm

    Great topic. It’s hard to choose the right IVR solution when there are so many options. If you’re looking to build your own solution, Pronexus has developed a free e-book on what sort of things you should look for when selecting an IVR toolkit. It’s filled with info about different programming environments, deployment considerations and more. You can grab it here! http://bit.ly/Selecting_The_Right_IVR

  • Uttam Pegu April 19, 2010, 10:10 am

    Hi Nicole,
    Thank you for the presentation. That is a very useful guide.

  • Manoj May 4, 2010, 5:24 pm

    I am looking for a IVR/IWR solution provider for clinical research. Do you have any suggestion.

  • Nicole May 4, 2010, 7:54 pm

    I’d give one of our partners, Vocantas, a look – http://www.vocantas.com

    Vocantas solutions have been used successfully in several independent clinical trials. You can read more about them on their website!

  • call center philippines May 14, 2010, 8:48 am

    Interactive Voice Response or IVR is a technology that automates interactions with telephone callers. Enterprises are increasingly turning to IVR to reduce the cost of common sales, service, collections, inquiry and support calls to and from their company. It is important to know how to choose a good IVR solution for the company. Thanks for the info.

  • Ravindra August 2, 2010, 2:56 pm

    Hello All,

    I have an application which will use the IVR system. IVR system should capable of handle 1000 members. I would like to get idea on what is the investment details for that IVR system. In general what is the cost for each subscriber will pay.

    Please guide me to get the right details on this.

  • Uttam Pegu August 5, 2010, 10:43 pm

    Hi Ravindra,
    I think, a 30 channel IVR system should be able to cater to 1000 subscribers.
    Now, for IVR, you may use either a toll free number or a normal 10 digit number. In case of toll free, subscribers will not pay for making calls, but you will have to pay. When you use normal 10-digit telephone number, subscriber will pay for making outgoing calls.

    Normally, for IVR system, apart from CTI board ( a 30 channel, 1E1 Board should cost from Rs.25000 to Rs. 180,000, depending on the brand) you will need to pay per channel license as well as some call flow development charges. Per channel license could be anything between Rs. 6000 to Rs. 20000.
    There are DIY ( Do it Yourself), easy RAD tools like VBVoice, ApexVoice which provide free evaluation.

    XtendIVR is also an option.

    Hope this helps.

  • Nicole August 5, 2010, 11:56 pm

    Hi Ravinda,
    As Uttam mentioned, you can use a toolkit like VBVoice to develop the application you’re describing. Download a trial of VBVoice for free here http://bit.ly/9AC3j6

    If you have any questions about pricing or anything else, feel free to call us at 1-877-766-3987 or e-mail us at info@pronexus.com – we would be happy to help you!

    Good luck with your application!

  • Arvind Kumar Tiwari January 25, 2011, 9:30 pm

    We are looking for IVR solution. Please provide cost of IVR solution.
    We have to implement these IVR on asterisk PBX.


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