IVR (interactive voice response)

Mightycall > Glossary > IVR (interactive voice response)

What is IVR?

IVR is a front part of a business phone system. We are faced with the IVR, when we call to a company and hear something like “press 1 to get into the sales department, press 2 if you need technical support, press 3 to check the status of your order, press 0 to speak with the secretary”. In common use of the term, IVR is a system that serves

  • to greet a calling customer,
  • to interact with the customer
  • to route calls to the appropriate employee or team.

The input of a caller is usually carried out by means of DTMF tones, but some IVRs use speech recognition systems to understand human speech.

Sometimes the result of an interaction of a customer with IVR is not a call routing, but another action. For example, information playback, redirection to voicemail, modification of a database and so on.

The term IVR is often used as a synonym to voice menu and auto attendant. But the professional telecom community treats IVR more narrow — as a system for interactions of users with a phone system. It means that IVR takes user input, processes it, transmits results to other systems, and replay response for the caller if any. Call routing and information processing are considered to be a job of other systems.

How IVR works

An IVR system consists of telephony equipment, software applications, a database and a supporting infrastructure. Often IVR is embedded into PBX or call center. Almost all cloud PBXs have more or less complex built-in IVR. As a standalone entity, an IVR can be deployed as equipment installed on the customer premises, or as a service of application service provider (hosted IVR).

An IVR interacts with a lot of other telecom and IT systems.

For example, IVR interacts with database software to acquire information from or enter it into the database.

ACD (automatic call distribution) is another system adjacent to IVR. On the basis of information from IVR, ACD routes call to an agent with particular skills.

IVR can provide enhanced voicemail experience to the caller. For example, an IVR could ask if the caller wishes to hear, delete, replay, edit, or forward a message.

IVR can be single- or multi- level. In the latter case, a company can build a more complex IVR ‘tree’ and provide more information for the caller. Nevertheless, using more than 2 levels can make customer experience worse.

What is IVR used for?

Central ideas of IVR using are:

  • quick access to desired information services and persons for calling customer
  • self-service
  • understanding of a call reason
  • delivery customer needs to telecom and IT systems.

All this results in improving customer experience.

Also, an IVR reduces a need for staff and helps companies to reduce the cost of call processing.

Common IVR applications include:

  • Office call routing
  • Call center forwarding
  • Setting up appointment reminders
  • Providing information about product details and order status
  • Bank and stock instant account balances and transfers
  • Surveys and polls
  • Providing information about flight schedules, movie show times
  • Outbound calls for delivering and gathering information