Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

Does Your Business Require Inbound or Outbound IVR?

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So, you made the decision to implement an interactive voice response (IVR) system. Now you need to decide what form of system your business can best use. Does it require inbound IVR, outbound IVR, or both? The answer depends upon your business needs and how each form of IVR can best serve them.

The difference between outbound and inbound IVR

As far as hardware goes, there is no difference between outbound and inbound IVR. The only difference is what you intend to do with the system when you set it up.

Inbound IVR involves handling incoming customer inquiries, and is the more common of the two. An inbound IVR is perfect for providing customers with the kinds of simple, but frequently asked, information they need to know about a business. This includes hours of operation, brick-and-mortar addresses, web addresses, or more. Additionally, this type of IVR can collect basic customer information from the caller and then present that information to an employee if the caller's question requires a live assistant.

Outbound service, on the other hand, is ideal to automatically call customers to remind them of upcoming appointments, for example, or to alert them that they are past due on a payment. A better illustration of the differences between outbound and inbound IVR is the types of businesses that are best served by them.

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Businesses ideal for outbound IVR

Businesses that make more outgoing calls will benefit from IVR systems that handle outbound calls. Outbound IVR deals with services such as sales, market research, collection calls, various types of verification, and credit authorization. The types of businesses that practice such services include:

Businesses ideal for inbound IVR

If your business handles more customer inquiries than outgoing calls, inbound IVR is for you. Inbound IVR handles such services as incoming sales/order fulfillment, billing inquiries, sales closures, location services (store locations), help desk/technical support, and customer service.

The following businesses are best served by inbound implementation:

Sometimes you may need both

Not all businesses utilize one or the other. Sometimes a business will need to implement both forms of IVR depending on what their needs are. For example, financial institutions can benefit from both outbound and inbound IVR, because they receive many customer inquiries and often have their own collections department. Healthcare services also can use a combination of the two types: Patients will often need to call to get quick information in case of a medical question, but the office also frequently needs to remind patients about appointments and bills.

Deciding which form of IVR you need might not be a one-and-done decision. Business needs change over time, so it may be wise to choose an IVR provider that can handle both. You never know what you may need later.

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