16. March 2020 Blog

Interactive voice response: Definition & Benefits

If you work for a business with busy customer support, you probably know what the abbreviation IVR stands for. In a nutshell, Interactive Voice Response is a system which routes your customers to the most appropriate department or agent.

To give you an example: When calling your favourite online store to find out more about your order, you will most likely be greeted by a welcome message. It will encourage you to choose from several prompts, for instance: “To reach customer support, press one. To connect with the sales team, press two.” That’s precisely what IVR is all about. 

It might not seem like it at first, but having such prompts implemented can help your call center work more efficiently and increase customer satisfaction along the way. Pro tip: make sure you have adequate TCP/IP network, database and web server capabilities.

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Benefits of Interactive Voice Response

Better customer service

Having your agents be responsible for picking up every single call as soon as it comes in may seem like a good idea on its face, but in reality all it gives you is a lot of wasted time. 

Customers can reach out to your business for any number or reasons, and setting up an effective IVR system will help your customers find the right departments and agents more quickly, saving everyone time. This way, your agents are able to dedicate their time to solving customer problems, which will improve the quality of your customer service overall.

Wider personalization 

IVR allows for personalization at a variety of stages. Want to give your customers the option to access certain departments at the first stage or your IVR and others at later stages? You can customize the messages that callers hear and the options they are able to select at every step of the process. Creating a seamless IVR experience for your customer will keep your business moving the right direction.

Saves time and money

Setting up a functional IVR system that can quickly guide your customers to the proper departments can save you a great deal of time and money. Instead of hiring agents in bulk and having them field every individual call as it comes in, you can have your agents specialize in different customer needs and use an IVR system to make sure callers are paired with agents that have been trained to solve their specific issue. You save money on hiring, and your customers save their valuable time.

24/7 service 

Being able to adequately meet your customers’ needs during off-hours is essential for any call center. IVRs can help you check that box. No matter the hour, your IVR system can answer the call and either help answer your customers’ FAQ, or provide helpful contact information for whomever they might need to contact once office hours roll around.

Error-free (compared to traditional receptionsists) 

Since IVR messages are pre recorded, you can easily ensure they’re error free. Gone are the days of having to coach a struggling agent through the all-important first steps of customer interactions. IVRs simplify the process, and get it right every time.

Now that we’ve covered some of the benefits of implementing IVR, here are a few simple hacks to help you improve your IVR system over time. 

How to improve your IVR

You can design an excellent IVR system in just a few steps! Here’s how:

1. Analyse your current IVR flow.

If you’re already using an IVR system, and neither your team nor your customers are satisfied with it, try to identify its biggest bottlenecks first.

You can gather the best insights by asking your customers, customer support reps, as well as analysing the data you have in place (i.e. average waiting time in line, callback requests, etc.). Once you do so, you should be able to tell what the issues are and how they can be improved in order to enhance external communication.

If you need some help at this stage - simply ask yourself a few questions:

  • How do you feel about the tone of voice and words used in your current IVR? Can they be done better? 
  • How long does it take to be routed to the right agent? Is there room for improvement here? Are there any unnecessary steps included in the process? 
  • What specific steps should be included in your IVR system? 

2. Outline a new flow for all your calls. 

After analysing all of your data and insights, you should be aware of existing problems and able to figure out possible ways for your customers to be routed within your IVR system.

When having this in mind, you can create a scenario with all the possibilities and steps needed. Just like that:

The whole process gets much easier if you have a proper call centre solution. With CloudTalk and its Call Flow Designer, you can visually create both simple and more complex call flow scenarios.

CloudTalk actually offers you 15+ steps you can add into your Call Flow Designer. 

Here are a few examples:

A) Specific phone number connected to an agent. When a customer calls this number, he or she will be automatically connected to the “assigned” agent. When this agent is not available, the customer will be able to leave a voicemail

B) Welcome message + IVR. When you want to assure your customers that they reached the right company and their call will be recorded, you can use a customized message. Still, as the next step, you can also use IVR to route them according to their needs.


C) Multi-level IVR. 2 or more IVRs are set up to route customers with a specific problem to the most suitable agent or department.

3. Look for inspiration and make your IVR special. 

Since the world is interconnected and everything can be founded online within a few clicks, you can easily browse the Internet to find many inspirations for setting up your new IVR. 

In fact, you can find specific samples that can suit your company needs best (and also reflect your company culture). If you know some creative or successful companies, you can easily try to go through their IVR system to find out:

  • What are the steps that customers need to go through?
  • What is the tone of voice used in the recordings? Is the content somehow special and different from other IVRs? 
  • How long does it take to get connected to the real agent? 

IVR transcripts examples

To make it even more straightforward for you at this point - here are several sentences that you can use when creating transcripts for the voice-recording studio or a freelancer (which will soon get into).

#1 Welcome Message

“Thank you for calling the company XY. Please hold while we transfer your call. This call may be recorded for quality assurance.”

#2 Out of business hours

“Thanks for calling the company XY. Our offices are currently closed. Our business hours are from Monday to Friday 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time.

If you would like to leave a message in our general voice mailbox, press 1. A representative will contact you the following business day.”

#3 IVR sample

“Thanks for calling company XY. Please note that this call might be recorded. To speak with the sales department representative, press 1. For customer service, press 2.”

#4 Leave us voicemail sample

“Unfortunately, all representatives are busy at the moment. If you wish, you can leave a voicemail now.”

#5 All agents are busy

“If you would like to leave a voicemail, please press 1 and leave your name, number, and a brief message. A representative will contact you the following business day.”

4. Ask for feedback.  

When you have the new IVR ready, don’t forget to ask for feedback. Listen to your IVR a few times, ask your employees from customer support, sales and also your customers. It is important to collect the feedback even before recording and implementing IVR

5. Find a suitable “voice”. 

Your IVR should be definitely original and engaging, but it still needs to be professional — which is why it might be necessary to record it with a little help from a professional voice actor. 

Where to find suitable voice actors? 

1. Search for a media agency which offers voice-recording services with language mutation you need for your IVR. You can use this for Google Search. 

2. You can also use international platforms like fiverr.com or freelancer.com for this purpose. When using these platforms, though, always check if a specific freelancer offers IVR recording and don't forget to have a look at their rating. 


Start making the most of the IVR system 

It’s no secret that a properly implemented IVR system can make contacting your company much easier and improve your customer support across the board. 

In order to make the most of it, though, you should think about the kinds of calls you’re receiving, as well as the content of your welcome message.

In both cases, you should place your trust in professionals. Pick a suitable voice actor, and choose CloudTalk to facilitate all your inbound and outbound calls.