In recent years, we’ve all become familiar with this technology even if we didn’t know the fancy name for it. An interactive voice response system (IVR) allows a computer to detect voice and touch tones during a normal phone call using telephone technology. The IVR system can respond with pre-recorded or dynamically generated audio to direct the caller on how to proceed. IVR systems can control almost any function where the interface can be broken down into a series of simple menu choices. Once established, IVR systems are generally scalable and can handle large call volumes.
The private sector embraced this technology some time ago but now more and more governments are using IVR. Governments often operate with limited budgets and personnel so an IVR is a cost effective way of using existing infrastructure to interface with the public. They are ideal for providing balance and payment information to the public, particularly after hours. Many governments are using them to disseminate information to callers about programs, like recycling or tax deadlines. Callers can receive messages in multiple languages and be automatically directed to different departments within the agency.
Many government offices have implemented IVR to expand their hours but not their budget. The government collection industry is using IVR to allow debtors to set payment plans or pay by phone, day or night. Additionally, the more mundane or routine calls can be handled without staff involvement, allowing government to conserve staff resources for higher level interactions.