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How Much Does a Call Center Interactive Voice Response System Cost?

Features and Uses of a Call Center IVR

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems allow call centers to manage high call volumes at a lower cost while improving the customer experience at the same time. The voice recognition technology has improved dramatically since the early days, and now recognizes normal speech patterns and even filters out background noise – including other voices. These systems allow callers to automate certain transactions, such as checking account balances, while also allowing them to have their issue go directly to a specific person or department.

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What are the Features of a Call Center IVR System?

By now, most people are familiar with IVR systems, even if they don't realize what they're called.

IVR systems handle inbound calls, but can also be used for outbound calls. Both have a wide variety of possible features, depending on the organization's needs. Many call centers choose to incorporate an IVR program in order to streamline operations and free agents to handle tasks that can only be addressed by a live person. Of course, customers may also choose to work directly with one of your agents, even when their issues can be handled via an automated process.

Common interactive voice response system features include:

  • Automatic number identification and dialed number identification
  • Call screening and switching options
  • Database integration
  • Detailed call logs
  • Direct transfer to departments or personnel
  • Multi-line support
  • Speech recognition
  • Text to speech

Outbound IVR systems are commonly used when conducting telephone surveys. First, it is a much more efficient method for contacting large numbers of people. Second, survey respondents tend to be more honest in an automated response setting than when talking to another person.

Considerations when Choosing a Call Center IVR System

With so much variability in system requirements, pricing varies widely. Some things to consider, beyond pricing, include:

  • Can you integrate the system with other applications? Integration with other applications, such as customer records management systems, not only optimizes your system, it also minimizes costs and promotes more effective customer service.
  • Can your customers easily navigate the system? If the system isn't user-friendly for your customers, your agents will be handling a lot of angry callers. This means clear instructions, with the most common menu choices listed first, and a layered menu for more detailed interactions.
  • Does the system support modification? As your organization grows and evolves, you want your IVR system to easily adapt.
  • What customer interactions does the system include? The minimum features of an IVR system include call routing, but the technology has far greater capabilities. Utilizing more advance features leads to less hold time for your customers, which makes the job of your agents much easier.

Costs of a Call Center IVR System

Estimating the cost of an interactive voice response system is nearly impossible, as there are so many variables to consider, starting with whether you host the system in-house or choose a cloud host.

In-house pricing starts at around $1,500 per line for smaller businesses, with medium-sized businesses paying tens of thousands of dollars, and large corporations paying hundreds of thousands.

Cloud-hosted IVR is a bit cheaper, because you aren't paying for the equipment to host. However, even these systems range from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars.

This variability is due to many factors. For example, the cost to develop your system depends on a number of features, including:

  • Call flow size, such as the number of branches and menus
  • The number of integration points on the backend
  • Personalization
  • Speech recognition capabilities

The fees that go into determining your cost include:

  • IVR usage: Includes the application, cloud infrastructure, IVR platform, maintenance, and compliance
  • Telco: Includes fees charged by your telecom provider, including the cost to transport calls, VoIP, toll free numbers, and taxes
  • Professional services: Includes the development of your system, maintenance, and modifications

When obtaining vendor quotes, make sure to obtain a complete list of the IVR usage fees, telco fees, and professional services fees.

The Bottom Line

Launching an IVR system requires a significant investment, no matter how large your business is. However, if your call center has a high call volume, you recoup these costs through reduced staffing needs and increased customer retention.

Of course, choosing the wrong system has the opposite effect. If at all possible, try before you buy. How? Look for vendors offering free trials, or satisfaction guarantees. This is the best way to ensure the system withstands the demands of your business.

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