US 8553859 Device and method for providing enhanced telephony

ABSTRACT – Embodiments of the invention provide a communication device comprising a database comprising a plurality of visual Interactive Voice Response (IVR) menus associated with a plurality of destinations. The communication device further comprises means for dialing a phone number of a destination, means for comparing the dialed phone number with phone numbers stored in the database, and means for displaying a form based on the comparison, wherein the form comprises one or more data request fields corresponding to a visual IVR menu associated with the dialed destination.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system and more specifically the invention relates to presentation and visual selection of IVR option from a caller device

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology is generally used to detect voice and key inputs from a caller. Various organizations such as banks, insurance companies, and other service providers use IVR technology to manage calls from their customers. Typically, IVR systems are used by organizations that have high call volumes. An objective for implementing the IVR system is to provide the customers with a quick and good experience. Moreover, the cost of providing the services is reduced.

Generally, when the caller calls a destination, such as a bank, an automated audio menu is played. The audio IVR menu can contain instructions to provide instant services such as account balance inquiry when the destination is a bank. Further, audio menu can provide options for the caller to connect to a desired end inside the destination. For example, the menu may direct the caller to press various keys on a telephone to connect to a particular department or agent. The audio IVR menu is designed specific to a destination. Therefore, each destination or organization may have different IVR menus. Further, the IVR menu in an organization can be based on the type of departments, type of services, customer care executives or agents and so forth. For example, an IVR menu of a bank may include options related to the account details of the caller, while an IVR menu of a pizzeria may contain options to order or select a pizza.

Typically, the caller calling the destination may have to listen and follow instructions on the menu to get a desired response or a function performed. Therefore, the process can be time consuming. Moreover, in case the caller provides an incorrect input, the complete process may have to be repeated. Furthermore, the IVR menu for an organization may be updated or changed regularly. For example, extension numbers inside an organization may be changed and correspondingly, the extension numbers associated with the IVR menu may be updated. As a result, a frequent caller may not be able to reach a desired end by remembering a combination of numbers. Therefore, the caller may become frustrated with the IVR systems.

Some prior art try to address this problem by providing visual form of IVR. These prior arts display the IVR menu graphically on a caller device. U.S. Pat. No. 7,215,743 assigned to International Business Machines Corporation and a published U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/957,605, filed Dec. 17, 2007 and assigned to Motorola Inc., provides the IVR menu of the destination in a visual form to the caller. The caller can select the options from the IVR menu without listening to the complete audio IVR menu. However, the IVR menu displayed on the caller device is stored on an IVR server at the destination end. As a result, the visual IVR menu is specific to the destination and only the IVR of the destination dialed is displayed. These techniques therefore, require each destination to set-up hardware, software and other facilities to be deployed for providing visual IVR servers.

Another existing technique as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,560,320 assigned to International Business Machines Corporation enables an operator of the IVR to send customized signals to the caller for generating and displaying graphical elements on the device of the caller. Thereafter, the caller can respond by selecting options through touch-screen interface of the device. Dual Tone Multi frequency (DTMF) signals of the IVR. However, this technique requires a specifically configured device to interpret the codes sent as Dual Tone Multi frequency (DTMF) signals for generating the graphics. Moreover, an operator is required to present the graphics to the caller. Furthermore, specialized software and hardware are required at the operator to design and generate DTMF codes. Therefore, the technique faces various practical limitations.

Generally, the IVR menus of the organizations are in form of audible menu. Moreover, there are a large number of organizations that use IVR menus. Therefore, converting the audible menus to visual IVR menus can be time consuming. An existing technique, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,920,425 assigned to Nortel Networks Limited, discloses an automated script to convert the audible menus scripts to visual IVR menu scripts. However, the audible menus scripts must be available in a particular format to enable the conversion. Furthermore, the audio menu scripts must be available or downloadable for the program to function. As a result, only the audio menus scripts that are available can be converted to visual IVR menu scripts. Furthermore, the device of the caller must be designed or programmed to understand the visual IVR menu scripts.

Various organizations encourage the customers to call them for information on their products or services, or for helping existing customers. Generally, a contact number is provided by the organizations on their website as a button. Therefore, when the customer presses the button a form is displayed. The customer then enters his contact number where an executive from the organization may call. However, this may be time consuming for the customer. Moreover, the customer may be not being able to talk to another executive during the call in case the on-line executive is not able to satisfy the customer. U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/049,021, filed Mar. 14, 2008 and assigned to Harprit Singh, provides methods and systems for displaying an IVR menu, when the caller clicks a link on a webpage provided by the organization. However, the customer is still required to request the webpage with embedded information from a server of the organization. Moreover, the methods and systems are limited to the organizations that provide the required webpage to the customers. Other technologies include U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/877,952 filed Oct. 24, 2007 and assigned to International Business Machine Corporation.

The effectiveness of providing the IVR in visual form is discussed in a technical paper titled, ‘The Benefits of Augmenting Telephone Voice Menu Navigation with Visual Browsing and Search’ by Min Yin et al. The paper discusses a setup where visual content of the IVR is sent from a service provider to a computer connected to a mobile phone. However, the technique discussed in the paper is limited to the visual content provided by the service provider’s end, after the connection is established. Moreover, the providers are required to individually set up the hardware and services for providing visual content.

As discussed above the existing technologies have various limitations.

SUMMARY

Embodiments of the invention provide a communication device comprising a database comprising a plurality of visual Interactive Voice Response (IVR) menus associated with a plurality of destinations. The communication device further comprises means for dialing a phone number of a destination, means for comparing the dialed phone number with phone numbers stored in the database, and means for displaying a form based on the comparison, wherein the form comprises one or more data request fields corresponding to a visual IVR menu associated with the dialed destination.

Embodiments of the invention provide a communication device comprising a processor. Further, the communication device comprises a memory comprising a database. The database comprises a plurality of visual Interactive Voice Response (IVR) menus associated with a plurality of destinations. Further, the memory comprises instructions executable by the processor for dialing a phone number of a destination, comparing the dialed phone number with phone numbers stored in the database, and displaying a form based on the comparison, wherein the form comprises one or more data request fields corresponding to a visual IVR menu associated with the dialed destination.

A method for providing enhanced telephony is disclosed. The method comprises dialing, at a communication device, a phone number of a destination. The communication device comprises a plurality of visual IVR menus associated with a plurality of destinations. Further, the method comprises comparing the dialed phone number with phone numbers stored in the communication device. Furthermore, the method comprises displaying, at the communication device, a form based on the comparison, wherein the form comprises one or more data request fields corresponding to a visual IVR menu associated with the dialed destination.

An aspect of the invention is to provide to a caller using a device a visual IVR menu corresponding to an audible IVR menu of a destination.

Another aspect of the invention is to enable the caller to directly interact with the visual IVR menu without listening to the audible IVR menu of the destination.

Yet another aspect of the invention is to provide the visual IVR menu to the caller before establishing a connection of the device with the destination.

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