How Much Does a Government Interactive Voice Response System Cost?
Features and Uses of a Government IVR
Government offices increasingly turn to interactive voice response (IVR) systems as a way to continue serving their constituents despite drastic staffing reductions. This technology allows entities to automate certain transactions, answer common constituent questions, and route calls that require live interactions.
In recent years, voice recognition technology evolved well beyond the unreliability of its early days. Today, IVR systems recognize normal speech patterns and even work when the call includes background noise and the sound of others talking. Callers receive automated answers to common questions, but may also connect directly to the relevant department if needed.
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Government IVR Systems: What are the Common Features?
IVR systems have a variety of standard features, as well as many optional ones. At its most basic level, IVR serves to route callers to the proper staff member or department. However, they offer many more benefits, such as analytics and reporting.
Common interactive voice response system features include:
- Automatic number identification
- Dialed number identification
- Detailed call logs
- Database integration
- Call screening and switching options
- Text to speech
- Speech recognition
- Multi-line support
- Direct transfer to departments or personnel
Many people don't realize that IVR systems can also be used for outbound calls. Common tasks for using outbound IVR platforms include reminders and telephone surveys, especially when you need to contact large numbers of people. In addition, IVR tends to result in more honest survey responses, as respondents seem to feel more comfortable than when talking to another person.
What Should You Consider when Choosing a Government IVR System?
Due to the wide variety of features and capabilities, choosing a system that adequately handles your needs is challenging. Below are four questions you should answer about any system before buying.
- 1.Does the system integrate with other applications and programs? Your IVR system must work in conjunction with other applications and programs. This optimizes the system, minimizes costs, and promotes effective customer service.
- 2.Will your constituents find the system easy to use? If the system isn't intuitive and user-friendly for your constituents, your staff's job is that much harder, as callers are typically frustrated and angry by the time they reach a live person. User-friendly systems have clear instructions and a layered menu for detailed interactions.
- 3.Can you modify the system later? Your IVR system needs to grow and evolve as your needs do.
- 4.Does the system include a variety of customer interaction options? The minimum requirement of IVR is call routing. To ensure shorter hold times for your constituents, look for systems with advanced features and interactions.
How Much Does a Government IVR System Cost?
Coming up with an accurate estimated cost for an IVR system presents a serious challenge due to the many variables involved. However, we can offer broad guidelines and explain what your cost includes. This helps guide your interactions with vendors during the bidding process.
Start by deciding whether to host your IVR in-house or via cloud.
An in-house IVR system costs around $1,500 per line for smaller agencies, ranging all the way up to several hundred thousand dollars for large entities. Cloud systems come with a lower price tag, because the host provides the equipment, but the range in pricing is similar to the range seen with systems hosted in-house.
There are numerous reasons for this enormous range in pricing, including logistical concerns such as how many phone lines you have, as well as the options you choose for your system design. Some of your development options include:
- The number of backend integration points
- Call flow size, including the number of branches and menus
- Speech recognition capabilities
The entire cost of your system includes the following fees:
- IVR usage: The application, compliance, infrastructure, IVR platform, and maintenance
- Telco: The fees your telecom provider charges, including the cost to transport calls, VoIP, toll free numbers, and taxes
- Professional services: The development of your system, maintenance, and modifications
When obtaining vendor quotes, ask for a complete breakdown of each of these fees.
The Bottom Line
An IVR system represents a significant financial investment. Take the time to meet with and research all of the vendors responding to your RFP. To protect your investment, try before you buy. Choose a vendor that offers free trials and/or a money-back guarantee. This helps you ensure your chosen platform is up to the demands of your agency.