IVR (Interactive voice response)
Interactive voice response, or IVR, is a computerised system that allows a person, typically the caller, to select an option from a voice menu that has been recorded, and otherwise talk with a computer system. Generally the system plays pre-recorded voice prompts to which the person presses a number on a phone keypad to select the option they want to choose, or speaks simple answers such as "yes", "no", or numbers in answer to the voice prompts.
The latest IVR systems use natural language speech recognition to interpret the questions that the person wants answered. Other innovations include the ability to speak complex and dynamic information such as an e-mail, news report or weather information using Text-To-Speech (TTS). TTS is computer generated speech and is no longer the robotic voice people associate with computers. Real voices are used to create the speech in tiny fragments that are glued together before being played to the caller.
IVR systems can be used to create and manage many services including telephone banking, order placement, caller identification and routing, balance inquiry, and airline ticket booking. Voicemail systems are different from IVR systems in that they are a one-way communication tool (the caller leaves a message), whereas IVR systems attempt two-way interaction with the caller. Automatic call distributor (ACD) systems are often the first point of contact when calling many larger businesses, and can be used in place of more expensive IVR systems.