Interactive Voice Response Buyer's Guide
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Estimating IVR pricing is difficult, since there are so many variables that go into the total cost: size, development tools, features, software licenses, and more. Additionally, IVR is often purchased as part of a larger telecommunications project — upgrading call center software, for example.
Further complicating the pricing is the need for substantial professional services work to design and set up the system. Dealers estimate that the consulting costs can be anywhere from one third to two thirds of the total costs of an IVR project.
Fortunately, most businesses with the call volumes to justify buying an IVR system can demonstrate a good ROI fairly easily. Whether the upside is increased telephone sales or decreased customer service costs, you should be able to demonstrate cost savings that more than offset the purchase price of the IVR.
What does IVR really cost?
The main driver of IVR pricing is size of the system: adding more ports and more users increases your costs for software licenses and hardware. Voice recognition can add significantly to the bottom line, as do complex requirements that increase the amount of programming work.
Small- to medium-sized businesses will find that on-premise IVR systems generally cost around $1,500 to $2,500 per port — that is, per simultaneous connection they can support. The average business will find they need 10 to 20 ports. Adding more ports, however, tends to decrease your per-port costs.
Medium- to large-sized businesses will see IVR pricing in the tens of thousands of dollars, while enterprise-level IVR projects can reach the hundreds of thousands.
Hosted IVR systems are typically much less expensive to start up than in-house IVR. You won't have any costs for software licenses or hardware, so your initial costs will stem from the design and setup of your system. You'll then receive a monthly bill not unlike your existing telephone bill that may include a per minute fee for usage.
With any IVR purchase, you may incur additional charges for database software, developer tools, and other startup costs. As long as these fees are spelled out completely in the proposals you get from each vendor, you'll be able compare the total costs from one to the next.
Once you're up and running your ongoing monthly costs will be based on some combination of call volume and the features you opt to take advantage of. This IVR pricing model matches your costs to your actual usage of the system, so as your call volumes change or you add new features, your monthly bill will reflect the differences.
To make sure you are comparing apples to apples ask your vendor to spell out all fees in their bid including access fees, reporting fees, licensing fees, and hosting fees.
Ask about the warranties that are included with each system. Expect at least a one-year warranty on any hardware you purchase, and learn if it includes parts and labor, on-site service, and/or replacement hardware if needed. Also, find out how much you'll pay for repair and upgrade work that's not covered.