Four Rules of IVR
IVR systems can be hell to use; the main reason for this is that people designing IVR systems tend to complicate their functionality beyond the normal usage scope of a human being. The following four rules will enable you to implement a usable, humanly accessible, and maintainable IVR.
- Rule 1—Keep it narrow: Your IVR should be kept as simple as possible. Make sure that each of your steps in the IVR environment is not longer than five options. Most IVR users aren’t able to remember all the options of an IVR system, when presented with a multitude of IVR options.
- Rule 2—Keep it shallow: Your IVR system’s depth is in direct relation to the complexity of the IVR application. If your application has more than four levels, you need to revise your IVR plan. Most people (including yours truly) become extremely aggravated when confronted with an IVR system that is asking for too much information.
- Rule 3—Enable escape routes: Always give your IVR user the ability to break out of the IVR flow and talk to a live person. Some people simply can’t handle the usage of an IVR system.
- Rule 4—If it works, don’t fix it!: For some reason, companies tend to change their IVR flows every other day to support a new business model. An IVR system that constantly changes is a nightmare for users, as they never get used to the options of the system. If you must perform an update, make sure that your update doesn’t affect that system in such a way that the users need to re-learn the system.
Voice Menus—AsteriskNOW’s IVR Generator
AsteriskNOW provides a highly simplistic IVR generator, rightfully named—Voice Menus. The main usage of an IVR in a PBX is the implementation of an “Auto Attendant”.
Some PBX systems refer to auto-attendant and IVR as two different things. In AsteriskNOW, they are one and the same.
At this point, click the Voice Menus link, located on your left-hand main menu. The following should appear on your screen:
This interface enables editing, creation, or deletion of voice menus. Each menu is built from a set of operational directives (Steps) and functional keys (Keypress Events). Each voice menu also receives a mandatory name (Name), a form of logical entity description, and an Extension number (optional). The extension number enables PBX extensions or external users to dial into the specific voice menu indicated by the extension number.
Voice Menu Steps—The Voice Menu Flow
Steps are performed one after the other, in the order they appear on the screen. There are seventeen possible steps, available through the AsteriskNOW GUI.
Once a step had been selected, the GUI will change, indicating the requirement for additional fields to be filled. The seventeen available steps are as follows: