An IVR payment is a type of financial transaction that occurs between a customer and a business or organization which has implemented an automated telephone payment system that enables payment for goods and services with the use of a credit card or electronic cheque (ACH) over the telephone. This is accomplished by having the caller interact with an automated telephone system also referred as Interactive Voice Response (IVR). IVR Payments rely on DTMF (Dual Tone Multi-Frequency) technology which are the tones transmitted by the callers telephone handset and recognized by the IVR Payment system as number inputs.
IVR Payments can take various forms including a caller making a payment with their credit card or with an electronic cheque also known as ACH or eCheck. IVR Payments can also be employed by a business to collect and securely store (Tokenize) customer credit card information for use by the business for a payment transaction that can take place in the future.
There are two commonly used IVR Payments methodologies:
- Customer Self-Service
In the Customer Self-Service approach, callers are routed by the business to a dedicated Pay-By-Phone number which is accessible 24/7. Customer interact with a specialized automated phone system (IVR) which guides them through a series of prompts directing them to enter information required to complete a payment transaction. These include entering an account #, invoice # or order # as well as their payment information which can be their credit card number or checking account information with the end result being a payment transactions where the information is processed with the businesses payment gateway/processor and the results transmitted to the business in real time. With the Agent Assisted approach, a live agent initially handles the call from the customer, and then when it’s time to collect the payment information the agent will transfer the call to the automated payment platform. This means that the agent will not be privy to any of the customer’s credit card information, thus ensuring payment security. As is the case with a fully automated customer self-service IVR payment system, the transaction is processed and posted in real time.
How a Customer Self-Service IVR Payment Transaction Works:
- The customer calls a dedicated phone number which is available 24/7.
- The Customer is prompted to enter a payment reference number which is supplied by the business – i.e. an account #, invoice # etc. for example,
Please Enter your account # now
- Upon entry of the reference number, the customer is presented with their account balance for example
your balance is $150.00
- The customer is presented with a list of payment options, for example,
to make a payment with your credit card, press 1 To make a payment with your checking account, press 2
- If the customer chooses to make a payment with their credit card, then when the customer enters their credit card information, the IVR Payment system will transmit the information to the businesses payment gateway in real-time and wait for an authorization. Once the transaction is authorized, (which usually takes only one or two seconds) the caller receives a confirmation that the payment was received by the business. In addition to a verbal confirmation the caller can also request for a text message receipt which would be sent to its mobile phone in real-time.
IVR Payment solutions offer a number of advantages, including:
- Security – removes live agents from handling sensitive credit card information thereby helping to achieve PCI Compliance
- Convenience – customers can pay bills 24/7/365 instead of being restricted to doing so during normal business hours
- Economy – an IVR payment solution means that businesses and organizations can better streamline the answering and processing of telephone calls which results in both decreased labor costs as well as making it easier to deploy staff more productively
- Efficiency – IVR payment solutions can be sized to handle large call volumes and as already mentioned can operate 24/7, so as to never miss a payment call simply due to heavy phone traffic or because the call came in outside of normal operating hours
For those organizations that require live agents to handle customer calls in the payment process (whether they are working from the office or from home), IVR payment technology can be easily interfaced into the process to support both working models while still providing the business with the levels of security that are required to meet PCI compliance.
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