Questions About Interactive Voice Response Systems? We Have Answers


In one of our last blog posts for 2022, we explored how medium-size businesses can benefit from implementing interactive voice response (IVR) systems. These benefits, which range from the ability to collect payments from a wider base of consumers to cultivating a more loyal, engaged customer base, and more, also apply to large businesses in multiple vertical markets. But how does IVR technology work, and what should merchants look for when shopping for a solution? Read on to find out.

IVR Systems 101

In a nutshell, IVR systems enable consumers to use a landline or mobile phone to pay for goods and/or services. Payments can be made via credit card, electronic check (ACH), or bank transfer. The process is completely automated, with no human operator involvement needed.

To initiate payments, consumers simply dial directly into a merchant’s IVR system or call a toll-free telephone number. When the system answers the call, it delivers a welcome message that instructs consumers as to how to move ahead with the payment process. Callers then execute payments by following a series of prompts, “feeding” payment information to the system through voice recognition. Consumers can share their bank account or credit card information verbally, or input the data utilizing the touchtone keypad on their phone.

Finding the Right Match

Truly leveraging the simplicity and advantages of IVR systems necessitates selecting a solution that offers these key attributes:

  • Wide-open access, with the option to make payments 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.
  • Instant processing of credit card payments.
  • Hassle-free check verification, via integration with the merchant’s check verification system.
  • Recording of all voice response payments, to remain in compliance with Nacha.
  • Airtight security, is afforded by compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Even more preferable are solutions with added security from Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption; performance of secure audits, for example, through McAfee, TrustWave, and First Data; credit card/address verification; and integration with fraud detection technology.
  • Seamless interaction with merchants’ existing databases.
  • Flexible credit card processing, enabled by multiple partnerships between the solution provider and credit card processors in areas throughout North America.
  • Immediate merchant access to statistics and reports, delivered by a real-time web interface incorporated into the system.
  • Customization options (like personalized voice prompts and scripts) to meet merchants’ individual requirements.
  • Complimentary equipment, setup, and programming.

Other Considerations

In addition to the above-mentioned features, merchants would do well to look for an IVR system that can be customized for their brand and identity. IVR systems of this type do not share the name of the payment solution and services provider when answering consumers’ phone calls or during the payment acceptance process. Rather, they use merchants’ own names—and customers remain unaware that they are making payments via a third-party payment system.

Why is it important that merchants be able to tailor their IVR system t? For one thing, hearing the name of a third-party company on an IVR call, rather than the name of the merchant itself, is very likely to raise security concerns for customers. This is not the case when the IVR system reveals only the identity of the merchant, with no reference to the identity or involvement of a third-party company. In fact, customization boosts customers’ confidence in utilizing the IVR payment option going forward.

E-Complish’s DirectPay IVR payment solution offers the customization option, as well as all of the key IVR system attributes mentioned above. To learn more about DirectPay and other payment processing solutions and services available from E-Complish, click here.