In the last 8 years, engageSPARK has worked with hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations in their IVR (interactive voice response) campaigns, and we’ve seen a lot of benefits to using this mode. Some advantages include (1) driving more urgency for a response from your endusers (message recipients) and (2) allowing anyone, regardless of educational attainment, to respond to surveys and questions 

But the biggest enemy of IVR is unanswered calls. How do we solve it?

There are many reasons why people don’t answer calls. Generally, one might think that people are busy at work, preoccupied with house chores or asleep. But based on our years of partnership with our customers, we found that there is a plethora of cultural nuances that one has to consider when setting up an IVR campaign or any kind of scheduled messages. 

What are call-time windows? 

Setting up call-time windows is perhaps one of the more underrated features on the engageSPARK platform. It allows you, the account owner, to set time restrictions to SMS, IVR, and Drip Campaigns. With call-time windows, messages are only sent out within the allotted time. Although it is also helpful for SMS campaigns, especially for SMS surveys, Voice and IVR campaigns benefit most from this feature because voice campaigns require an urgent response. 

Specifying when calls and messages go out before launching a campaign has done wonders for our users. Not only are people answering their phones, they appreciate the respect for their time and cultural context. 

Designing for our end-users 

It is nighttime, and a Rohingya refugee is preparing for Tahajjud. He finds a quiet corner facing qiblah1. He starts praying, but he is interrupted by a phone call. It’s an automated call about the dangers of COVID-19. He ignores it, but since call retries were set up, his phone rings again after a few minutes. He answers the phone and records his response, “You interrupted me in my prayer. Don’t ever call me again.”

It’s unfortunate that some of the most well-intentioned campaigns do not reach its intended audience simply because of bad timing.

I spoke to our UI engineer, Hatem, who talked about the importance of call-time windows, especially during Ramadan.  He shared, “I saw the value of this feature because of Ramadan. We didn’t want to interrupt them (end-users) during Taraweeh and Tahajjud2.” Now, our users can edit live campaigns and change call-time windows settings to adapt to the context of the end-users.

A relatively large percentage of our end-users are nonprofits and organizations working in developing countries where SMS and Voice are still the best channels for communication. When COVID-19 disrupted operations for nonprofits, governments, and for-profits, there was a high demand for an efficient way to disseminate information without face-to-face interaction. Some of our end-users are stranded in refugee camps, and some live in hard-to-reach areas where people do not receive relief goods and other social services easily. 

Since day one, engageSPARK has always designed our SMS and Voice platform with community service programs in mind. We still hold ourselves accountable to the varying needs and values of our end-users. And, with that, we will continue to build inclusive products.

Yes, we heard you. You can now edit live campaigns. More about that soon! 

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Qiblah is the direction to which Muslims face when praying. It points to the direction of the Great Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

2 Taraweeh and Tahajjud are prayers done during the month of Ramadan. Tahajjud prayers are offered at night while Taraweeh prayers are offered after sleeping.