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IVR – Interactive Voice Response

What is IVR Technology?

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a telephony menu system that allows the customer to interact with a company without the presence of an agent.  The IVR will use touchstone buttons on the customer’s telephone where they will press the keypad in accordance with the service they require.  The call will then automatically be routed to the most appropriate agent or department within the call centre.  More often than not, it is used beyond service selections (eg. 1 for support, 2 for sales) to obtain identification and segmentation information such as an account number or a credit card number, in fact the caller could complete the transaction without even having to speak to an agent, for example to pay a bill.

What does the IVR allow you to do?

There are various ways the IVR can be used in the Contact Centre to help with automation:

  • Configure a personalised greeting – The customer can choose the most suitable route for their query.
  • Route the caller – Using the IVR and giving the caller options will ensure they are routed to the most appropriate department or agent
  • Collect data from your caller – Allow them to make a series of inputs into the system to glean information which will connect them to the most appropriate agent or department.
  • Automate customer service – Allow your customers to self-serve by offering them a series of options delivered by audio prompts, for example inputting credit card details to pay a bill. A whole raft of queries can be automated enabling 24/7 customer service.
  • Manage peaks and troughs in call volumes – Spikes in call volumes can be dealt with effectively reducing bottle necking. Callers can be automatically directed to an appropriate agent or department, put in a queue or even give them the option of having an agent return their call rather than wait in a queue.
  • Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) and multi-channel integration – IVR solutions can offer functionality to allow the caller to switch channels, from a call to the web to an SMS. Inputs into an IVR can also interact with other applications such as a CRM solution allowing true multi-channel interactions.
  • Prioritise calls – The IVR will allow organisations to prioritise calls by recognising who the customer is. For example, if a high-value customer calls in and you want to give them priority they can be directed to the front of the queue.

What are IVR payments?

An IVR payment system uses custom voice prompts to provide customers with options of checking account information, balances, or to make payments. It’s the perfect solution for call centres to reduce live operators having to manually enter and process payments. Customers simply respond to the IVR phone system using their voice or DTMF tones (Dual-tone Multi-frequency Signaling) that are recognised to make a payment (over-the-phone) which is sent to the payment portal.

Benefits of using an IVR system

The IVR system is crucial for optimising your CX and joining up your various channels and services.  By allowing your caller to choose from multiple service types, it can reduce the amount of time spent on hold or customers being put through to the wrong department and will also:

  • Increase first point resolution and customer satisfaction – By ensuring your callers are being directed to the most appropriate agent or department, they will be less likely to be transferred meaning your first point resolution increases considerably. Customers can be provided with an easy and efficient way to get the answers they need quickly.
  • Increase efficiency – Increase efficiency for both your agents and your customers, by routing customers to the most appropriately skilled agent to resolve a specific problem or issue. Optimised routing will also allow for lower abandon rates, reduced time in the queue and call-back options for times when there are high volumes of calls.
  • Reduce operational costs – Typically costs are fairly low for IVR solutions so the ROI is significant
  • Extend your opening hours – If you use your IVR for customers to self-serve it can present you with an opportunity to increase your opening hours.
  • Increased professionalism and improve your company’s image – Greet your customers in a professional manner and smaller organisations can make it appear as though they are larger than they actually are.

What are the best IVR solutions?

According to Gartner’s magic quadrant, the best interactive voice recording solutions are

Speak to our experts to find out which solutions fits your needs.


Although the IVR has been designed to optimise the customer experience, if you get it wrong it will actually lead to dissatisfaction. A few tips to remember are:

  • embrace new functionality such as integrating your IVR with your CRM system
  • have the right options for customers to pick and offer them a direct route to an agent if you don’t
  • make your scripts to the point and easy for your customers to understand
  • optimise customer waiting time by providing additional information
  • use speech recognition and natural language speech to provide a more personal touch