WO2006128227A1 - A method for navigating an interactive voice response telephony system - Google Patents

A method for navigating an interactive voice response telephony system Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2006128227A1
WO2006128227A1 PCT/AU2006/000727 AU2006000727W WO2006128227A1 WO 2006128227 A1 WO2006128227 A1 WO 2006128227A1 AU 2006000727 W AU2006000727 W AU 2006000727W WO 2006128227 A1 WO2006128227 A1 WO 2006128227A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
call
telephone
destination
access
desired
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/AU2006/000727
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Ty Morris
Original Assignee
Ty Morris
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to AU2005902759A priority Critical patent/AU2005902759A0/en
Priority to AU2005902759 priority
Application filed by Ty Morris filed Critical Ty Morris
Publication of WO2006128227A1 publication Critical patent/WO2006128227A1/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/50Centralised arrangements for answering calls; Centralised arrangements for recording messages for absent or busy subscribers ; Centralised arrangements for recording messages
    • H04M3/51Centralised call answering arrangements requiring operator intervention, e.g. call or contact centers for telemarketing
    • H04M3/5166Centralised call answering arrangements requiring operator intervention, e.g. call or contact centers for telemarketing in combination with interactive voice response systems or voice portals, e.g. as front-ends
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/50Centralised arrangements for answering calls; Centralised arrangements for recording messages for absent or busy subscribers ; Centralised arrangements for recording messages
    • H04M3/51Centralised call answering arrangements requiring operator intervention, e.g. call or contact centers for telemarketing
    • H04M3/5183Call or contact centers with computer-telephony arrangements
    • H04M3/5191Call or contact centers with computer-telephony arrangements interacting with the Internet
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M7/00Interconnection arrangements between switching centres
    • H04M7/0024Services and arrangements where telephone services are combined with data services
    • H04M7/003Click to dial services

Abstract

A method for providing telephone access to a desired call destination within an interactive voice response telephony system comprising the steps of: generating a list of call centre destinations within one or more call centres, the one or more call centres being equipped with one or more interactive voice response telephony systems; providing access to said list to potential callers of the call centres whereby the potential callers select a desired call destination within the one or more call centres; and providing telephone access to the desired call destination wherein said telephone access includes the telephone number of the call centre along with a navigation sequence to enable the potential caller to navigate the interactive voice response telephony system to the desired call destination.

Description

A METHOD FOR NAVIGATING AN INTERACTIVE VOICE RESPONSE TELEPHONY SYSTEM

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to means for accessing a desired destination within one or more call centres. In particular, the invention relates to an improved means for navigating interactive voice response telephony systems in order to access the desired destination within one or more call centres.

BACKGROUND ART

In this document, all references to "interactive voice response telephony systems" and "IVR" are to be construed as referring to those automated or semi- automated systems whereby, when a caller calls a call centre, the caller receives prerecorded or computer generated spoken instructions or options directing the caller to enter a sequence of one or more keystrokes into the caller's telephone or other telephony system in order for the caller to be directed to the caller's preferred destination within the call centre. It is common in such systems for the caller to be required to enter a number of sequences of keystrokes and to receive a number of sets of pre-recorded spoken instructions or options before reaching the desired destination. The terms "interactive voice response telephony systems" and "IVR systems" should also be construed to include similar systems whereby instead of requesting a sequence of one or more keystrokes, the system is equipped with voice recognition capabilities and is therefore responsive to the spoken instructions of the caller. Whilst requesting voice instructions from the caller, these systems can also generally be navigated by keystrokes.

It is common for organisations which interact with the public or which have large customer or contact bases to have IVR equipped call centres. Examples of the kinds of organisations that commonly possess such IVR equipped call centres include financial institutions, insurance companies, telecommunications providers, public utility providers such as electricity, water and gas providers, and government departments.

One problem that is commonly associated with WR equipped call centres is that the process of listening to the pre-recorded instructions at each stage before entering the necessary sequence of keystrokes or other spoken instructions can become time-consuming and frustrating for the caller. As a result, callers are often reluctant to contact organisations which have IVR equipped call centres or simply give up during a call as the process becomes ever more frustrating. Furthermore, some callers refuse entirely to contact such call centres. Consequently, even though IVR systems can reduce the staffing requirements for organisations' call centres, such IVR systems also commonly result in the organisations suffering from customer dissatisfaction and loss of custom.

It is a further problem that because the process of listening to the prerecorded instructions and entering the necessary keystrokes or spoken instructions is time- consuming, the limited number of telecommunication lines leading into the call centre commonly become congested with callers attempting to navigate the IVR system. Hence, considerable time is often wasted during which call centre staff, if unoccupied, must wait for callers to navigate the IVR system before the call centre staff can address the caller's enquiry. Ih addition, the congestion caused in the limited number of telecommunication lines while numerous callers navigate the IVR system commonly prevents other callers from accessing the call centre. This creates inefficient use of the available telecommunication lines because time is wasted while customers navigate the IVR system which could otherwise be spent attending to inquiries from additional callers. This inability to attend to those additional inquiries can lead to loss of potential custom by the organisation.

OBJECT OF THE INVENTION

It is an objective of the invention to provide a method for navigating an interactive voice response telephony system that may at least partially ameliorate the above mentioned problems or provide a useful or commercial choice.

In a first aspect according to the present invention there is provided a method for providing telephone access to a desired call destination within an interactive voice response telephony system comprising the steps of: generating a list of call centre destinations within one or more call centres, the one or more call centres being equipped with one or more interactive voice response telephony systems; providing access to said list to potential callers of the call centres whereby the potential callers select a desired call destination within the one or more call centres; and providing telephone access to the desired call destination wherein said telephone access includes the telephone number of the call centre along with a navigation sequence to enable the potential caller to navigate the interactive voice response telephony system to the desired call destination.

In a second aspect according to the present invention there is provided a method for navigating an interactive voice response telephony system comprising the steps of: accessing a list of call centre destinations within one or more call centres, the one or more call centres being equipped with one or more interactive voice response telephony systems; selecting a desired call destination within the one or more call centres; and telephonically accessing the desired call destination wherein said telephone access includes dialling the telephone number of the call centre along with entering a navigation sequence to enable navigation of the interactive voice response telephony system to the desired call destination.

In the methods of the aspects of the present invention a list of call centre destinations within one or more call centres is employed. The one or more call centres are equipped with one or more interactive voice response telephony systems. Interactive voice response telephony systems are automated or semi-automated systems whereby, when a caller calls a call centre, the caller receives pre-recorded spoken instructions or options directing the caller to enter a sequence of one or more keystrokes into the caller's telephone or otherwise interact with system, such as by voice, in order for the caller to be directed to the caller's preferred destination within the call centre. It is envisaged that the methods of the present invention are applicable to a wide range of such interactive voice response telephony systems. The list may be provided in a variety of convenient forms. Whilst the list may be in the form of a printed publication, it is preferred that the list is provided as an on-line, interactive list. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the list may comprise one or more web sites that may be hyperlinked for convenient access. The one or more web sites may have one or more search engines for identifying a preferred call centre from the one or more call centres. Furthermore, the contact information pertaining to the one or more call destinations within the one or more call centres may be presented on the one or more web sites in the form of one or more hierarchical menus. Users may be provided with access to the list via the internet.

It will be appreciated that dependent upon the media on which the list is presented a variety of convenient means for accessing the list may be made available to the user.

In one embodiment the list is provided on a web site which may facilitate linking with the desired call destination via the internet. In a preferred embodiment the web site may facilitate automatic linking with the desired call destination via the internet, such as through an internet based communication system, e.g. voice over IP telephony. In yet another embodiment, the web site may facilitate transmitting the input or inputs to a telephony device such as a mobile handset via SMS (Short Messaging Service) or similar information transmission facilities such as WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) facilities.

In the methods of the present invention, telephone access to desired destination within a call centre may be provided by a number of convenient means. In one embodiment, the telephone access may be provided by a voice over internet protocol, whereby the user may simply select an icon and a hyperlink may directly connect the user to the desired destination. Such a system permits the navigation of a wide variety of interactive voice response telephony systems. For example in a system navigable by keystrokes the keystrokes may be programmed to provide the desired navigation. In systems navigable by voice instructions the voice commands may be programmed to provide the desired navigation. It will be appreciated that the navigation sequence may be a keystroke sequence, a voice command sequence or other navigation sequence required by the interactive voice response telephony system.

In another embodiment, the telephone access may be provided over a tone dialled telephony system in which the input or sequence of inputs may comprise a keystroke or sequence of keystrokes on a telephony device. The keystroke sequence in this embodiment will generally include a telephone number to access the call centre, followed by a pause command, typically represented by the # key, and then followed by a numeric sequence, generally also separated by pause commands.

The keystroke sequence for input by a tone dialled telephone may be manually keyed by the user or, in other forms of the invention the keystroke sequence may be transmitted to the user's telephone using SMS, WAP or like facilities. In this way the phone number and the remainder of the keystroke sequence may be sent to the user's telephone for transmission and direct access to the desired destination within the selected call centre.

In an alternative preferred form, the input or sequence of inputs may comprise an input or sequence of inputs for a machine or system, whereby the machine or system generates a signal or signals equivalent to the signal or signals produced by a keystroke or sequence of keystrokes on a telephony device.

In one embodiment, the telephony device may comprise a telephone. In an alternative embodiment, the telephony device may comprise a device or system capable of functioning as a telephone.

In a particularly preferred embodiment of the present invention, the list of call centre destinations is stored and maintained on a database. Preferably, the database is interactive in that whilst being accessible to users via a website, it is also able to be selectively updated by clients to maintain their information, such as maintaining the access sequences. As well as updating access sequences, the clients may also update other data for publication on the website, such as the expected waiting time for a call centre destination, various help options that may permit the user to solve their issue without the need to speak to an operator including frequently asked questions (FAQ) and a search function to access the clients help information, or other client provided information such as advertising , promotional offers and the like.

The database may be accessible through a website over an internet based application such as on a desk top, laptop, notebook, personal data assistant (PDA) or internet enabled mobile phone. The website may provide access to the call centre information in a hierarchical configuration or via a search engine. On a mobile phone or computer with a telephone connection the website may include functionality to permit the user to select an icon that causes the telephone to dial the desired call centre and enter the desired access code to connect the use with the desired call centre destination.

On a computer that is enabled with internet based telephony, the website may include functionality to connect the user with the desired call centre destination directly through the internet based telephony system, e.g. voice over IP.

The use of voice over IP also enables the database to provide, via the website, the functionality to enable a user to request the desired call centre destination to call back the user via the voice over IP telephony system. For example, the user may request an operator call the user at the earliest available opportunity or within a selected time window, thereby avoiding the need for the user to wait on the phone for an operator to attend to the call. This also permits the client to have better management of the call centre operators by more fully utilising and managing their time. Return calls may be times to most efficiently utilise the time of the operators. When a return call is requested by a user, the website preferably opens an application on the user's computer informing the user of the outstanding request for a return call and, if available the estimated time of the call. When a call is returned and the user has missed the call, the application may inform the user and advise the user to request another call. The website may also include an icon that enables the user to send an email to the call centre destination to allow certain issues to be resolved by email, thereby providing more efficiency and convenience to the client and also the user.

In a preferred form, the website may include functionality that enables preselected personal identification information to be sent to the call centre, such as via the voice over IP telephony system, which can enable more efficient handling of the telephone call. By providing certain preselected information to the call centre operator the operator will be able to more quickly complete the enquiry. The personal information may be either obtained from data stored on the user's computer, or can be obtained by guiding the user through an application where the user can enter that information.

hi order that the invention may be more fully understood and put into practice, preferred embodiments thereof will now be described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 provides an overview of the process undertaken by a caller in accessing a call centre destination using one or more embodiments of the invention; Figure 2 represents an embodiment of the invention wherein access to the list of call centre destinations is provided in the form of one or more web sites;

Figure 3 represents a preferred aspect of the embodiment in Figure 2 wherein the web site contains hierarchical menus;

Figure 4 represents an alternative embodiment of the invention wherein access to the list of call centre destinations is provided in the form of a telephone interface;

Figure 5 represents a further alternative embodiment of the invention wherein access to the list of call centre destinations is provided by way of SMS; and

Figure 6 represents yet a further alternative embodiment of the invention wherein access to the list of call centre destinations is provided by way of WAP. BEST MODE

With reference to Figure 2, in the most preferred embodiment there is a web site listing contact information associated with the call centres of a number of organisations. In general, each organisation represented on the web site will have one call centre, although the web site can accommodate organisations having multiple call centres.

Best shown in figure 3, the web site preferably contains hierarchical menus pertaining to each of the call centres listed on the web site. The hierarchical menus will be presented using hyperlinks, drop-down menus or graphical tree structures.

With further reference to Figure 3, the hierarchical menus present information pertaining to each call centre in the following way. The first level of the menu pertaining to an organisation presents the name of the organisation. If there is more than one call centre pertaining to one organisation on the web site, then the first level of the menu gives the name of the relevant call centre. When the first level of the menu pertaining to a particular organisation (or call centre) is "clicked" or otherwise selected, the web site then displays the different departments or sections within that call centre. Similarly, selecting the desired department from the second level of the menu then causes the web site to display the different sub departments within that department, hi this way it is possible, using the website, to navigate through the structure of the call centre by selecting the most preferred option from the available divisions of the call centre presented at each level of the menu. When no more call centre divisions are available, this indicates that the last level of the menu has been reached and the web site then displays the necessary keystrokes or other instructions (including the normal telephone number) that the caller must enter in order to navigate the IVR of the chosen call centre and reach the call destination selected and of last level of the menu. This then enables the caller to enter the displayed key strokes or instructions into the IVR immediately after entering the ordinary phone number without waiting to listen to the pre-recorded instructions.

Automated dialling may be provided through a modem whereby upon selection of an icon representing the required sequence of keystrokes, the modem dials the required keystrokes to connect the user to the desired destination within the call centre whereupon the user may pick up the telephone having been connected to that destination.

For callers who use internet telephones (voice over internet protocol), the web site also provides an "automatic dialling" facility whereby the caller "clicks" on an icon or otherwise selects the sequence of keystrokes or instructions displayed at the last level of the menu. Those keystrokes or instructions are then automatically entered by the internet telephone, thereby connecting the caller directly to the chosen call destination via the internet telephone. Hence, this facility also allows the caller to access the desired call destination within the chosen call centre without waiting to listen to the pre-recorded instructions of the IVR.

With reference to Figure 4-6, in alternative embodiments there may be provided a telephone interface, SMS interface, or WAP interface allowing a caller to call otherwise access the interface, the interface containing contact information associated with the call centres of a number of organisations. The caller can then be automatically connected with the desired call centre destination, or the necessary keystrokes or other instructions (including the normal telephone number) that the caller must enter in order to navigate the IVR of the chosen call centre may be transmitted to the caller by way of SMS, WAP or in the form of a recording.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the present invention may be subject to variations and modifications other than those specifically described. It is to be understood that the present invention encompasses all such variations and modifications that fall within its spirit and scope.

Claims

THE CLAIMS DEFINING THE INVENTION ARE AS FOLLOWS:
1. A method for providing telephone access to a desired call destination within an interactive voice response telephony system comprising the steps of: generating a list of call centre destinations within one or more call centres, the one or more call centres being equipped with one or more interactive voice response telephony systems; providing access to said list to potential callers of the call centres whereby the potential callers select a desired call destination within the one or more call centres; and providing telephone access to the desired call destination wherein said telephone access includes the telephone number of the call centre along with a navigation sequence to enable the potential caller to navigate the interactive voice response telephony system to the desired call destination.
2. A method according to claim 1 wherein the interactive voice response telephony systems include automated or semi-automated systems whereby, when a caller calls a call centre, the caller receives pre-recorded spoken instructions or options directing the caller to enter a sequence of one or more keystrokes into the caller's telephone or otherwise interact with system, such as by voice, in order for the caller to be directed to the caller's preferred destination within the call centre.
3. A method according to claim 1 wherein the list is in the form of an on-line interactive website.
4. A method according to claim 3 wherein telephone access to the desired call destination is provided by an internet based telephone list.
5. A method according to claim 4 wherein the internet based telephone link is voice over IP.
6. A method according to claim 1 wherein the website provides the phone number and access codes to the desired call destination by sending the phone number and access codes to a telephone handset.
7. A method according to claim 6 wherein the phone number and access codes are sent via SMS, MMS, WAP or 3G technology.
8. A method according to claim 1 wherein the access codes are keystrokes or voice commands.
9. A method according to claim 8 wherein the telephone number and access codes include a telephone number to access the call centre, followed by a pause command and then followed by a numeric sequence, optionally separated by pause commands.
10. A method according to claim 1 wherein the list of call centre destinations is stored and maintained on a database wherein the database is interactive in that whilst being accessible to users via a website, it is also able to be selectively updated by clients to maintain their information, including maintaining the access sequences, and other data for publication on the website, including the expected waiting time for a call centre destination, various help options for allowing the user to solve their issue without the need to speak to an operator and other client provided information including advertising , promotional offers and the like.
11. A method according to claim 1 wherein the database is accessible through a website over an internet based application including on a desk top, laptop, notebook, personal data assistant (PDA) or internet enabled mobile phone.
12. A method according to claim 11 wherein the database is accessible on a mobile phone or computer with a telephone connection and wherein the website includes functionality to permit the user to select an icon that causes the telephone to dial the desired call centre and enter the desired access code to connect the use with the desired call centre destination.
13. A method according to claim 1 wherein the database is accessible on a computer that is enabled with internet based telephony and the website includes functionality to enable a user to request the desired call centre destination to call back the user via the voice over IP telephony system.
14. A method according to claim 1 wherein the database is accessible via a website and the website includes functionality that enables preselected personal identification information to be sent to the call centre which can enable more efficient handling of the telephone call.
15. a method for navigating an interactive voice response telephony system comprising the steps of: accessing a list of call centre destinations within one or more call centres, the one or more call centres being equipped with one or more interactive voice response telephony systems; selecting a desired call destination within the one or more call centres; and telephonically accessing the desired call destination wherein said telephone access includes dialling the telephone number of the call centre along with entering a navigation sequence to enable navigation of the interactive voice response telephony system to the desired call destination.
PCT/AU2006/000727 2005-05-30 2006-05-30 A method for navigating an interactive voice response telephony system WO2006128227A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
AU2005902759A AU2005902759A0 (en) 2005-05-30 A Method for Navigating an Interactive Voice Response Telephony System
AU2005902759 2005-05-30

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WO2004071061A1 (en) * 2003-02-05 2004-08-19 Gerard Anthony Kelly Method and system for introducing events into a current voice call
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Patent Citations (12)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US5946377A (en) * 1995-10-10 1999-08-31 Ast Research, Inc. Script-based DTMF information retrieval system
US5850429A (en) * 1996-12-11 1998-12-15 Lucent Technologies Inc. Method and system for remotely controlling an interactive voice response system
EP0903920A2 (en) * 1997-09-19 1999-03-24 Siemens Business Communication Systems, Inc. System and method for improved user interface in prompting systems
US6016336A (en) * 1997-11-18 2000-01-18 At&T Corp Interactive voice response system with call trainable routing
EP0973314A2 (en) * 1998-07-17 2000-01-19 Siemens Information and Communication Networks Inc. Apparatus and method for improving the user interface of integrated voice response systems
US20030026409A1 (en) * 2001-07-31 2003-02-06 Sbc Technology Resources, Inc. Telephone call processing in an interactive voice response call management system
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US6788770B1 (en) * 2003-03-27 2004-09-07 Sprint Communications Company L.P. Intelligent voice response system with navigator database

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