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Telephony 101: Giving Voice to Your Network: Page 2 of 8

VRUs are essentially voice computers that customers use to interact with a company's systems. Just as a browser is your interface to the Web, your phone keypad serves as the user interface to the VRU. Like PBXs, VRUs were once vendor-specific solutions running their own operating systems on proprietary hardware. Today's VRUs rely on standard server hardware and OSs with IVR (Interactive Voice Response) applications, such as those from Syntellect running Windows 2000.

When you reach a business' automated voice system and press "1" for a name directory, you're interfacing with the VRU's IVR application. The IVR guides you to whatever information you're looking for, such as the extension for Joe in accounting.

The ACD transfers calls to an IVR app, which holds the call until the customer either completes the session or opts out by choosing to talk to a human being. The IVR app responds to the caller's queries using its internal data or by connecting to external databases. IVRs can be powerful tools for business--the more calls they can handle, the fewer call-center staffers you need. On the flip side, a poorly written IVR app can cause serious (and potentially costly) customer-service problems.

Advanced IVR applications let users conduct transactions such as bank balance transfers and provide write updates to back-end databases.

CMS: Accounting for Your Calls