IVR: Beep or Barge-In

Here’s a common question in the voice services world – should I use a “chime” or beep, no sound, or let people barge-in?

What do I mean?  When you get an automated call or call into an IVR system, how do you know when to respond?  For example:

If the question is “Is this George Van Antwerp?  Please say yes or no.”

  • In the first instance, you would say “please say yes or no after the beep”.
  • In the second instance, you wouldn’t add anything but you couldn’t reply until the system is done talking and starts listening.
  • In the third instance, you would be able to respond as soon as you knew what to say (i.e., barge-in).

Of course, intuitively, you want the third scenario, but it creates a series of issues:

  • If there’s background noise, the system can be very clunky…you keep hearing “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand you.  Can you please say yes or no?”
  • You can get false positives
  • You can get people who respond too quickly missing some or all of the question

I personally prefer a window of time to respond where I left with some finite parameters in which to respond (i.e., no barge-in).

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