IVR Environmental FactorsHundreds of thousands of businesses in the U.S. alone rely on some form of interactive voice response (IVR) to cut costs, automate phone interactions, and grow their business. IVR is a technology that enables a caller to interact with an automated menu via telephone or voice recognition. If your business uses inbound or outbound IVR or is considering whether or not to leverage its benefits, keep in mind that the environment in which a person interacts with your IVR.

Here are three environmental variables to consider when either building an IVR or deciding whether or not to use one.

Acoustic Characteristics

Understanding the acoustic characteristics of the environment from which the caller is calling your IVR or receiving your call is important when businesses are deciding what type of IVR user input method to offer.

For example, let’s say you have a team of factory inspectors who are measuring machine runtime and need to input the data while onsite. In order to collect the data, you provide them with a mobile device in which they can auto-dial a number. You set up an IVR application to input their findings. If they attempt to input data through the IVR’s voice recognition software, the information that was entered may not transcribe correctly due to the noisy acoustic environment from which the inspector is calling from.

A solution for this type of environment would be to set up an IVR that requires use of a touch-tone keypad to enter the data. This would ensure that the data was transcribed correctly regardless of the acoustics of the caller’s environment.

When dealing with people that traditionally work off of a speakerphone, dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) is considered a better solution. However, if you are dealing with people that traditionally work off of a headset at their desk, automatic speech recognition (ASR) would work well, allowing for a low error rate. ASR recognition software can achieve between 98% to 99% accuracy if operated under optimal conditions.

Mobility and Audience Safety

It is important to understand the mobility factor of your audience while keeping in mind their safety. Let’s say you’re running a radio ad about the top places to shop in Chicago that most people will hear while in the car driving. In order to provide your audience with more information about the top sales going on in their area, you have to decide whether to provide a link to your website or a toll-free number to call for an IVR.

If you go with a web link, unless you are confident they can remember it, you are forcing your audience to write down the website, something that can be very dangerous while driving. Most cars, however, now come equipped with hands-free Bluetooth capabilities. So, instead of advertising the link to a website, offer a phone number where the caller can then dial the phone hands-free while driving. The IVR should be built to accept voice commands, since the driver won’t be able to access a keypad safely. It also has the added benefit of enabling the caller to interact with you right when they hear your ad causing you to be top-of-mind.

The Size of a Mobile Device’s Keyboard

According to Super Monitoring, 50% of people use a mobile device as their main source of searching the Internet. So consider this scenario: Take a couple that is in the process of trying to find a moving company. They search for a moving company on their smartphone. Instead of filling out a “Contact Us” form with a small keyboard, which as most of us know is not a lot of fun, they notice that there is a phone number located at the top of the page. Most smartphones turn phone numbers into click-to-call links. They click on the phone number,, it triggers a call to an IVR application, and they’re on their way.

Today, smartphones are drastically increasing the amount of voice interactions businesses have by making it easier and more convenient for users to click on a number and be connected to a phone call instantly. Plus, using the IVR application to score that lead, collect additional information, and route the caller to a live person enhances the customer experience and improves a business’s efficiency.

To learn more scenarios where IVR is providing value, download the on-demand webinar on the “8 New IVR Use Cases for Marketing, Sales, and Support”.