In telephony, interactive voice response, or IVR, is a phone technology that allows a computer to detect voice and touch tones using a normal phone call. The IVR system can respond with pre-recorded or dynamically generated audio to further direct callers on how to proceed. IVR systems can be used to control almost any function where the interface can be broken down into a series of simple menu choices. Once constructed IVR systems generally scale well to handle large call volumes.

A caller dials a telephone number that is answered by an IVR system. The IVR system executes an application which is tied to the number dialed DNIS (Dialed number information service). As part of the application, prerecorded audio files or dynamically generated Text to Speech (TTS) audio explain the options available to the caller. The caller is given the choice to select options using DTMF tones or spoken word. Speech recognition is normally used to carry out more complex transactions and simplifies the application menu structure.

Call centers use IVR systems to identify and segment callers. The ability to identify customers allows the ability to tailor services according to the customer profile. It also allows the option of choosing automated services. Information can be fed to the caller allowing choices such as: wait in the queue, choose an automated service, or request a callback. (At a suitable time and telephone number) The use of CTI(Computer Telephone Integration) will allow the IVR system to look up the CLI (Calling Line ID) on a network database and identify the caller. This is currently accurate for about 80% of inbound calls, but will increase as mobile phones become more popular. In the cases where CLI is witheld or unavailable, the caller can be asked to identify themselves by other methods such as a PIN or password. The use of DNIS (Dialled number information services) will ensure that the correct application and language is executed by the IVR system.
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