US 8594280 Systems and methods for visual presentation and selection of IVR menu

ABSTRACT – Embodiments of the invention provide an enhanced telephone system. The telephone system comprises a database that comprises phone numbers and menus corresponding to the phone numbers. Further, the menus comprise options for selection. The telephone system comprises means for comparing a dialed number to the phone numbers in the database, displaying a menu based on a result of the comparison, enabling selection of the options from the displayed menu, and establishing a connection with a destination of the dialed number based on the selection of the options.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system and more specifically the invention relates to visual selection of IVR from a device, auto detection and management of IVR systems and telephone networks.

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 systems 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 buttons 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 not 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 not 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 not become frustrated with the IVR systems.

Various existing techniques try to address this problem by providing visual form of IVR. These technologies display the IVR menu graphically on a device of the caller. Existing techniques, for example, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,215,743 assigned to International Business Machines Corporation and a published U.S. patent application with Ser. No. 11/957,605 assigned to Motorola Inc., provide the IVR menu of the destination in a visual form to the caller. As a result, 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 device of caller 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. Further, the IVR menu may be required to be configured on the server of the destination to display it to the caller, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,092,738 assigned to International Business Machines Corporation. Such techniques may be technically complicated and very expensive.

Another existing technique, for example as disclosed in a published U.S. application Ser. No. 11/467,548 assigned to Blankenhorn Thomas Tyrone, provides a telephone system that processes the signals received from the destination to present a visual display of menu choices in an automated telephone menu system. However, this technique has various limitations. For example, additional hardware may be required to understand the received signals and present a visual menu. Further, devices such as mobile phones may have to be specifically designed by the manufacturers to process the signals. Various IVR menus, complex operations such as voice authorization or authentications from the caller, which may not be possible by this technique. Moreover, a connection of the caller with the destination is required before the menu is displayed to the caller.

Yet another existing technique as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,104,790 assigned to International Business Machines Corporation, detects the availability of a voice menu file at a destination, the device of caller or a third party service provider. Thereafter, the voice menu file may be parsed to display it in a text format. However, this technique has various limitations. For example, it does not provide any database of visual menus and relies completely on the availability of the voice menu file. Therefore, the technique will not function if the destination does not provide any download facilities. As a result, each of the organizations that desire to provide the facility may have to specifically set up of hardware, software or other services. Further, third party hardware and software setup may be required to enable functionality. Moreover, in case voice menu files are pre-loaded in the device of caller, then a lot of memory space is required at the device that limits the scalability of this technique. Furthermore, parsing of voice menu file by the device in real-time may be intensive on processing capabilities of the device. As a result, devices with advanced capabilities are required for proper functioning.

Another existing technique, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,027,990 assigned to Lester Sussman, discloses visual menus for a touch-tone telephone with an embedded computer. In this case the text menus may be pre-loaded into the telephone of the caller as text menus. Therefore, when the caller dials the destination, an associated text menu is displayed on a screen. However, this technique is limited to touch-tone telephones with embedded computer. Moreover, only a single level of menu is displayed on the screen for complicated or nested menus. As a result, the caller may still have to select various options from the displayed menu to search and go to a desired option, which may be time consuming or frustrating. Furthermore, the technique is limited to display of text as generated from voice-to-text software that may not be reliable.

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 menus can be time consuming. An existing technique, as discloses 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 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 menu scripts. Furthermore, the device of the caller must be designed or programmed to understand the visual menu scripts.

Sometimes, the caller may call a particular destination frequently. For example, the caller may call a bank holding his account regularly for updates on his account balance. Therefore, the caller may not be interested in listening to the complete audio of the IVR menus every time the destination is dialed. An existing solution, for example as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,065,188 assigned to International Business Machines Corporation, provides methods and systems for personalizing the IVR menus. In this case, a profile and preferences of the caller are stored on an IVR system that is accessible to the caller through a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Therefore, when the caller connects to this IVR system a personalized IVR menu is displayed to the caller instead of the complete menu. However, the personalization in this case is limited to the IVR system of the particular destination only. Therefore, the caller cannot personalize or customize the IVR menu of any other destination dialed. Moreover, the personalization is limited to the profile generated by the access pattern of the user or the inputs provided by the user.

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 be able to talk to another executive during the call in case the on-line executive is not able to satisfy the customer. An existing technique, for example, as disclosed in a published U.S. patent application with Ser. No. 12/049,021 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.

The effectiveness of providing the IVR in visual form is discussed in a technical paper titled, ‘The Benefits of Augmenting Telephone Voice MenuNavigation 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. Therefore, techniques are required for visual selection of IVR from a device, auto detection and management of IVR systems and telephone networks.

SUMMARY

An aspect of the invention is to provide to a caller using a device a visual 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 menu without listening to the audible IVR menu of the destination.

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

Another aspect of the invention is to enable the caller to interact with the visual menu by using a touch sensitive screen of the device.

Another aspect of the invention is to provide advertisements related to the destination or function of the destination dialed by the caller.

A caller may dial or select a phone number from a device of a destination. The phone number is detected by Visuphone implemented on the device to display a visual menu corresponding to the audible IVR menu of the destination. Visuphone may be hardware, an application stored as a software or firmware on the device, or a combination thereof. Visuphone may include a database of visual menus corresponding to audible IVR menus for various destinations. Thereafter, the caller may interact with the visual menu displayed on the device to establish a connection with the destination. Furthermore, Visuphone may detect and launch a VOIP application for establishing the connection. Moreover, Visuphone may provide pre-recorded audio responses on behalf of the caller to the destination.

An enhanced telephone system is provided. The telephone system comprises a database that comprises one or more phone numbers and one or more menus corresponding to the phone numbers, wherein the menus comprise one or more options for selection. The telephone system comprises means for comparing a dialed number to the phone numbers in the database; means for displaying a menu based on a result of the comparison; means for enabling selection of the one or more options from the displayed menu; and means for establishing a connection with a destination of the dialed number based on the selection of the one or more options.

An enhanced telephone system is provided. The telephone system comprises a database comprising one or more phone numbers and one or more menus corresponding to the phone numbers, wherein the menus comprises one or more options for selection; means for comparing the a received number of a received call to the phone numbers in the database; means for displaying a menu based on a result of the comparison; and means for enabling selection of the one or more options from the displayed menu.

A method for providing enhanced telephony is also provided. The method comprising identifying a number dialed from a telephone system; comparing the dialed number to one or more phone numbers stored in a database, wherein the database comprises one or more menus corresponding to the phone numbers, and wherein the menus comprises one or more options for selection; and displaying on the telephone system a menu from the database based on a result of the comparison.

Another aspect of the invention is to generate a database of visual menus

Another aspect of the invention is to provide updates to the visual menus stored in the device.

Another aspect of the invention is to provide the visual menu when the call is forwarded from one destination to another.

Another aspect of the invention is to provide visual menus on electronic devices with screens that are connected to Visuphone.

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