An audio menu is a popular method for directing callers to specific pre-configured extensions by reading them a menu of available extensions. It is commonly used in incoming call answering services to provide the caller with the call experience provided by a large company IP/PBX.
How it works
The audio menu will typically take the format; Press one for Sales; two for Customer Care; three for Technical Support, or four for Finance. The caller is then able to make the selection using the keypad on their phone. Because phones use dial tome multi frequency DTMF there is a different frequency generated for each individual key. Therefore, the software can determine which key has been press, in this case 1 to 4 and take the appropriate action.
Way it’s used in VoIP
Incoming auto-attendants for virtual hosting companies use this feature as the cornerstone of their call-answering service as they can offer a caller a professional sounding menu of option and then call forward the caller to the appropriate selection.
In call center environments audio menus are utilized to call screen and deliver callers to the correct agents to deal with their queries. Callers will be asked to select a service or wait in a queue, some audio menu systems will capture the caller ID and from that lookup a database or CRM application which will retrieve the customer’s history file.
Audio menus can be more complex and be used to build intricate processes, which a customer can follow to automate a desired action. A popular use of this type of audio menu was telephone banking.
Audio menus are flexible telephone interfaces that have many uses and are commonly implemented in retail & entertainment, banking and telephony bill payment, where processes can be broken down into very specific caller led sequences of events. Audio menus are generally useful and helpful to the caller so long as the hierarchy of choices is limited to three or four layers of menu, beyond that callers can get frustrated. Additionally when designing an audio menu there should always be an option to breakout and wait in a queue to speak to a live operator.
An audio menu is sometimes referred to as interactive voice recognition or IVR. Strictly speaking, they are two different technologies but today in the VoIP industry IVR is commonly used as a catch all phrase for all types of telephony menu.