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Best Cloud Telephony & IVR Software for your Business in 2020

Finding the best Cloud Telephony & IVRS Software for your business is now faster and easier! Compare prices, reviews, features, and get free consultation to find the perfect software.

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 What is IVR Phone System?

IVR, the abbreviated form of Interactive Voice Response systems, is one widely used telecommunication technology in the business scene nowadays. It allows the callers to interact with a computer controlled automated voice system and choose the desired course of actions thereafter. The automated voice guidance system, comprising of prerecorded messages reads out the available options based on inputs made (key press) by the callers.

Since the 1980s, IVR systems have been incorporated in business phone systems across the world. After the arrival and growth of the web, deployment of IVR software has shot up too. Thousands of mid to large sized organizations, belonging to many sectors resort to this automated system for handling inbound calls and customer queries.

As a matter of fact, the Interactive Voice Response system is used mostly for collecting information from the customers/callers. Some of the commonplace uses of IVR systems are phone banking, call centers, phone surveys and customer care of numerous service providers, such as telecom operators or fast food services. The modern generation IVR solutions can be customized to a large extent.

There are many advantages of using IVR software solutions in business setups, as it is. These include reduction of running costs, reduced reliance on the human support system, and diminished workload on the human support agents. It is ideal for companies that are looking forward to introducing automation in their operations.

What is Hosted IVR? 

With time and progress of technology, the IVR systems have also evolved a lot! There was a time the IVR was a part of the PBX system used locally in the business setups. With the evolution of web technologies, this has changed, for better! Nowadays, businesses can opt for hosted IVR solutions. In this setup, the actual IVR software is stored in the cloud and not on the local server of the company. The cloud IVR vendor is responsible for service and maintenance.

As it is, the Hosted IVR software solutions are much more sophisticated and feature-laden than traditional, localized PBX based IVR setups. It also brings numerous benefits to the users. The benefits include enhanced security, less dependence on localized hardware, reduced need to rely on manpower and lower running cost in the long run.

The cloud IVR service providers also offer online updates to the users, which improves usability and adds more features to the interactive voice response software. With fast internet service spreading everywhere, clarity of Internet-based voice call is not a problem anymore.

How Does IVR Works?

The IVR system is a good example of the integration of computer and telephony. It is integrated with the helpline numbers of various businesses. These numbers can comprise of landline, toll-free or even mobile numbers.

After a caller dials the helpline number, the IVR software kicks into action. The system plays a pre-recorded greeting message at first and then gives the caller the options to press any of the available digits from 0 to 9 and for each digit, an action is associated. There can be multiple menu levels in such a setup, and the messages can be customized.

For example, in the case of a telecom company, the first menu lets the caller choose any apt language and next he/she can choose from options like knowing the balance, deactivating or activating certain services. They may also be given choice to speak to a customer care staff over the phone and navigate to the main and sub-menus.

Of course, using an interactive voice response software solution can consume quite a few minutes which may not be feasible for all types of callers.

What is Cloud Telephony System?

Cloud telephony is the evolved form of regular telephony- in a nutshell. It is an internet based tele communication system that minimizes the need to depend on specific hardware and wired telephony for business or personal interaction needs.

In such telephony systems, the majority of devices and infrastructure are handled by the service providers. As a user, you need to have a stable internet connection and a few hardware devices. It is not mandatory in cloud telephony to use regular handsets.

In fact, the majority of cloud telephony software support making and receiving calls through regular headsets with embedded microphones. Of course, you can use these services with mobile phones.

The major benefit of using Cloud telephony is reduced dependence on wired setups. The calls are transferred through the internet and the users can avail a number of useful features. This is what most call center setups actually use nowadays.

The modern cloud telephony software is light on resources and they are highly compatible with a broad range of PS OSes and phone handsets. In a business setup, such cloud telephony software can be used with desktops, laptops, tablets and even hybrid devices without issues. It can be categorized into 2 main types- PSTN based and VoIP enabled Cloud telephony solutions.

How does a Cloud-Based Phone System Work?

A Cloud-based phone system does not rely on a wired setup. It is dependent on the internet. The calls made and received are handheld through cloud servers and the users need to have a stable internet connection, some type of web access device and suitable cloud telephony software. The users may use laptops, desktops, tablets or mobile phones to make or receive calls through cloud telephony solutions.

The calls are handled through the internet and the caller and recipient can be positioned anywhere, even in remote countries. They can also use different types of hardware devices to make and receive calls. Modern cloud telephony software solutions let you make both voice and video calls. Calls can be handled by using headsets with mic and video calls are handled through integrated or external webcams.

The latest applications can handle HD quality video calls over the web, provided there is a fast connection. Calls made between users having same cloud telephony applications are free. However, for calling a regular landline or mobile numbers from a VoIP application, you need to spend money. The good thing is such call charges are coming down.

How much does an IVR system cost?

As a matter of fact, setting up an IVR system can be costly, but that depends on the complexity of setup. A typical in house IVR setup including networks, servers, and databases can cost a few thousands of dollars. You have to think of the software and periodic maintenance as well. This is precisely why a lot of entities opt for hosted IVR solutions.

A hosted IVR service requires the users to pay a monthly or yearly rental as the charge. The service provider is responsible for service quality, maintenance etc. This is way more affordable than setting up a dedicated IVR solution at your company premises. The charge of such hosted cloud telephony cum IVR setup varies from one company to another.

Some such service providers will charge you per minute for using their packages. From a business perspective, buying bundled cloud telephony service and IVR makes sense. It fetches you a host of advanced call management features. However, it is also possible to buy an INR set up separately and append it to your existing PBX solution. On an average, bundled IVR and cloud telephony package may cost approx $20-$22 a month.

IVR Features

The latest IVR software solutions come with a wide range of call management features. These are useful for any kind of business. The majority of interactive voice response software comes with features like:

  • Support for multiple languages - The popular IVR applications supports several languages. This is essential because your company’s customers may not speak in a single language! Usually, the callers are given the options to choose the preferred language just after they hear the greeting message in most IVR solutions.
  • Transfer to live agent - Some queries can only be resolved by talking to a human support agent. So, the IVR applications come with the facility to call transfer to human support agents.
  • Voice greeting with customization - The first response a caller gets after dialing helpline with IVR integrated is a pre-recorded voice greeting. This greeting can be customized as per business needs.
  • Extensive call management - The popular interactive voice response software solutions come with robust call management features. These features include call making, call forwarding, call recording and conference calls. Conditional call forwarding is also supported by these software solutions.

Interactive voice response benefits

Needless to say, the businesses using IVR solutions prefer these for the numerous benefits. The major benefits of IVR solutions are:

  • Lower operational cost - while there is an initial investment cost of setting up an IVR solution at a company or opting for a hosted VR solution, the running cost tends to be easier on the wallet.
  • Enhanced agent efficiency - In call centers, the agents are always burdened with calls made by the customers. A section of these calls are handled by the IVR setup and that reduces the load on the agents. They can perform at an optimal level and that also improves the quality of service.
  • Better call handling - With a top quality IVR solution in place, call management becomes a breeze and professional. The software routes important calls to apt numbers and conditional call forwarding can also be very helpful in a business setup. The call recording is also handy as the recorded calls can be used to train the new agents in the organization.
  • Improved customer satisfaction and brand image - With an IVR setup deployed, excess calls can be tackled in a professional and consistent manner and eventually no calls get unanswered! The callers get multiple options to address their needs, including talking to an agent. So, this helps boost customer satisfaction level. This eventually paves way for boosting the brand image.
  • 24x7 services - In all business setups, offering 24x7 telephonic support by recruiting human agents may not be possible, because of certain hurdles. In those companies, the IVR solutions can be used to fill in the gaps. The solutions can be used when the agents are offline or on leave.

With time, the IVR ethnology too has matured and nowadays you can pick from various types of IVR applications.

  • Basic/Self-service IVR - these IVR solutions are ideal for those callers who want to resolve their issues without taking help from a person, in general. This is the case with most of the tech-savvy customers! These IVR setups can be simple or multi-level. However, some such setups also offer an option to talk to a human agent, in case the caller is unable to find a solution by using the system.
  • In-premise IVR - These IVR solutions tend to be costly as the company has to bear the cost of software, hardware, wiring and everything associated with the service. However, on-premise IVR solutions have rooms for ample customizations.
  • Hosted IVR - In Hosted IVR solution, a third party company offers IVR application or service - through the web. The users just need to pay a monthly or annual fee to the vendor. It tends to be more economical for the user or company. It is ideal for small to midsized businesses.
  • Agent-assisted IVR - This type of IVR setup requires agent involvement but on a minimal level. The agents use the interactive voice response software solution and direct pre-recorded messages to engage the callers. However, the customers do not realize that a human agent is involved in it. It is quite effective in handling tough cases.

Using an IVR solution can be very beneficial for a business, but selecting the right type and service provider is also important. Hosted IVR solutions are what most companies opt for nowadays. However, there are plenty of such service providers and assessing their services is essential. It makes sense to go for integrated cloud telephony with IVR solutions as it is affordable and brings more flexibility on board. As always, you should go through the reviews of such companies online before subscribing for their services.

 
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    • Interactive voice response systems use an advanced dual-tone multi-tone frequency technology. They generate two tones – one of high frequency and one of low frequency when a number is dialed. They use artificial intelligence and automation to route calls to callers efficiently.
    • Some major applications of IVR include the following:
    • Business call routing
    • Bank account balance management and funds transfer
    • Automated survey data collection
    • Customer self-service portals
    • Speech recognition tools
    • While choosing IVR software, it is important to include these beneficial features:
    • Call tracking
    • Advanced Reporting
    • Call forwarding
    • Business communication planner
    • Call analytics
    • Voicemail
    • Call Transfer
    • Yes, all cloud telephony software providers ensure to provide integrations with other business applications. This means that all contact information can be exported from your CRM system to the IVR software, thus reducing manual effort by a large extent.
    • A credible service provider can implement most ready-to-use IVR solutions instantly, within a few hours. However, a customized platform that is tailor- made to your business requirements may take some more time, even up to a few months to implement.

Himanshi SharmaBy Himanshi Sharma | Last Updated: October 24, 2020

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