Voice over IP

IVR – Interactive Voice Response and MOH – Music on Hold in an IP PBX


This article gives and introduction to MOH – Music On Hold and IVR – Interactive Voice Response features of an IP PBX. We look at what is possible and what is not possible with both, with respect to an IP PBX. Of course, this is a general description and some features may be supported by certain vendors and some may not. Likewise – additional features.

Well, have you ever thought of using your PBX for marketing promotional activities? Not the outbound campaign sort of stuff. I am talking about the existing customers who keep calling the service department and are complaining that it takes quite a long time to reach the help desk executive! While we recommend that you attend to them faster, there is one more thing you could do – Make them listen to some interesting product details or hot offers while they are waiting to connect to someone. After all, they are your existing customers! There is a better chance that they might buy something more. It is a fact that most of the customers don’t know when you launch a new product or have a hot offer for an existing product. There is an easier way to reach them – Music On Hold.

Music on Hold (MOH):

The primary objective of a Music On Hold system is to play a song while the caller is waiting. So, basically the PBX has some sound files which it can play when the caller is on hold, waiting in a queue, parked or being transferred. But other than the mind soothing effect it gives, you could record custom information about the new products or advertisements and play it while they are waiting. Of course, it is better that they are creative and not sound like railway announcements! You can even have multiple songs for multiple groups (Like a separate announcement for someone calling X department and a separate one for someone calling Y department – making it relevant) and set an order in which multiple songs are played one after another.

IP PBX can also support the latest codec’s – like MP3. But you may need to download and install one. So, if you are not going to have an announcement, just play a beautiful song.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR):

This has always been there for enterprise PBX. But the options were pretty limited. You could listen to some options, press a key to go to some department or press 9 to reach operator. That’s what you could do. But once programmed, it is quite hard to re-program them.

IP PBX makes it much more easier and much more interactive and changeable. In fact, the whole IVR menu is shown like a tree structure, which has all the options and the sounds related to it and the administrator can change the structure easily whenever he/she wants. You can also have a different IVR structure during the office hours and different one for after office hours – make it simple, the second one!

The voice prompt in an IVR can be just recorded from an IP phone and saved as a file in the IVR menu. Alternately, you can upload a file to a URL and redirect the IP PBX to play the sound from the URL. Most of the basic sounds come pre-recorded.

You can have multiple IVR menus. So, when the user presses a button from the main IVR, he goes to a sub-IVR etc. Or he could just be transferred to an extension or an operator. You could also record some important extensions and play it to the user. The IVR menus are interruptible – like they go to the next step once a key is pressed, for example. You can also send the caller to an external cell phone number directly from the IVR, for after office hours support, for example. You could also transfer the call to the voice mail if the extension is busy. You can also record the message of the caller and send it as an email attachment or upload it to a URL.

You could also extend the functionality of the IP PBX IVR by letting it give more information to your customers on their account – You could have a user code and pass code for your customers and send the values to a URL for verification and give them access to their account if the pass code matches.

You can also have the numbers/letters read out to your customers by the IVR system. For example, in the above case, when the pass code is entered, you could make the system read the pass code to the customer for him to confirm and then take the next step. So, as you can see, you can do a lot of things with just two systems in an IP PBX – that’s why these systems not only enable communication but also integrate with your business processes and give a better service to your clients.

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