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Language Selection Option in IVR System

Recently, I have called up many IVR systems in India and found one common menu in all those IVRs, that is request for choosing IVR language!

People in countries where there is one language for the entire country, may find it difficult to understand why a self service IVR ( or any IVR) should have an option to choose a language as first option. But in Asia, many countries has two or more languages. And in India, it has more than 15 languages and more than 200 small languages/dialects.

Apart of vernacular language, these countries also have an ‘official’ language for all communications. For example, in India, English is widely used, specially in cities, but the official state languages are also used as secondary language.

So, how does this menu affect the IVR design ?

Well, the first casualty is TTS ( Text to Speech). TTS works for English language only. Though there are TTS available for other languages too, but the choices and quality is limited.

The other issue which comes up is automatic speech recognition. The complexity of designing speech recognition may go up.

Many self service IVR, like customer care numbers of Telecom Companies normally ask language option only once and stores it for any future use. They then give option of changing the default language in their main menu. While this help removing one level of IVR menu, with MNP (Mobile Number Portability) in place, most probably, this will create its own problems and complaints from customers. For example, if a Airtel Customer had chosen Hindi as his language since he does not understand English, after shifting to Vodafone, he might have to again listen prompts/menu in English!

Also, there are IVR systems which may get many international calls. For example, a travel company in China may have IVR in there office which would get calls from Spain or France. And it would be really nice if the Spanish caller could opt for Spanish language for the IVR! But then, this step may increase the call duration by few seconds.

So, language selection option in any IVR will remain and IVR software developer will have to decide when to use it and when not to use.

While it would be nice if IVRs can

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • abhishek May 3, 2013, 7:25 pm

    Hi Uttam,
    From a User experience point of view I find that having multiple languages options is interesting. However at the same time it limits exploiting technology to the maximum. I find it too confined to the idea of directed dialog. To do ‘this’ press ‘that’ instead of ‘what would you like to do?’. It will take time but I guess we need simplicity somewhere. Any thoughts!

  • Ashish Gautam July 22, 2013, 1:36 pm

    Hi Abhishek,

    I hope that this kind of intelligent IVR systems be developed in future where they can just do what the user wants instead of giving them the confined options. With the help of latest technology and platforms may be this could be developed in future. A nice imagination though!!

  • Abu Ayan March 20, 2015, 7:51 am

    Please Suggest me my Airtel prepaid sim When I am on roaming to some other state and someone calls me, the IVR responds in roaming state language when my phone is busy or not reachable. How to change the settings so that it responds in my home language Kannada or in English only?

  • khushboo May 2, 2016, 6:33 pm

    Please suggest me my aircel prepaid sim how to change my operter IVR and aircel customer care language change only in hindi.

  • THAYANANTHAN S July 18, 2016, 7:03 am

    good afternoon. you are request for the network in the bangomunda block.This is a tata docomo netowrk abelabul. I am a very request to idea neto 7871330197

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