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IVR systems work by playing pre-recorded messages in response to caller input.

Caller input can be in the form of speech (voice recognition) or keys (DTMF tones). IVR systems can also be used to collect information from callers, such as account numbers or zip codes.

What is an IVR?

The abbreviation IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response. An IVR is an automated telephone system that answers incoming customer calls with voice menus or a pre-recorded message.

The IVR sends callers directly to the correct department based on the answer typed in.


IVRs also have a very helpful self-service capability that allows easy and simple processes, such as checking the balance on a credit card or paying a rental or parking fine, all without human intervention.

IVRs help your customers with short wait times and improve customer satisfaction.

How does an IVR work?

An IVR usually consists of three main components

  1. The telephone lines
  2. The computer
  3. The voice recorder

The phone lines are connected to the computer, which runs the IVR software. The voice recorder is used to record phone menu options.

When a customer calls, the IVR system answers the call and plays the recorded message. The customer then makes their selection by pressing a key on their phone.

The computer then forwards the call to the appropriate person

What is an IVR menu?

An IVR menu is a list of options from which a caller can choose

The IVR menu is usually played when the call is answered and gives the caller the choice of which department to be transferred to.

For example, suppose you call your bank. You are told, “Welcome to the bank. Are you calling to check your account balance? Then dial 1. Would you like to speak to a staff member? Then choose 2.”

Once the caller presses the corresponding number on their keypad, they are transferred to the selected department.

What types of IVR are there?

There are two main types of IVR:

  1. Pre-recorded voice menus
  2. Voice recognition

With pre-recorded voice menus, the caller is given a list of options to choose from, as described above. In speech recognition, the caller speaks their request and the IVR system uses speech recognition technology to interpret what the caller said.

Multi level IVR

Multi level IVR is a type of IVR that allows callers to navigate through a series of multi level IVR menus to find the information they need.

With multi-level IVR, the caller is first asked to select the department he/she wants to speak to. Once he has selected the department, he is then asked to select the specific topic he wants to discuss. This process can be repeated until the caller reaches the desired department or subject.

Multi level IVR is a great way to organize and present information on a phone system. Multi level IVR makes it easy for callers to find what they need and reduces time spent on the phone waiting for help.

Conversational IVR

As technology evolves and voicebots become part of everyday life, voicebot conversation becomes more effective.

Technology is developing rapidly and voicebot interventions are very versatile and effective. Machine Learning helps companies improve their conversations with their customers through continuous analysis.

Conversational IVR is a type of IVR that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to understand what the caller is saying and respond accordingly.

For example, Conversational IVR can be used to provide a customer with information about a product without having to press numbers on the keypad.

What are the benefits of using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system?

There are many benefits of using an IVR system, including:

  • Lower customer service costs: Automating customer interactions can help you save on labor costs. In fact, incoming calls are automatically transferred to the correct employee, saving an incredible amount of time.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: an IVR helps keep your customers happy by providing them with a self-service option. Self-service is on the rise and one of the biggest customer service trends.
  • Greater efficiency: an IVR can help you speed up processes and get information from customers faster. Calls are cleverly distributed across different departments and callers are helped immediately. Even if you don’t have enough staff, your customers will still feel like they are being helped immediately.
  • Available 24 hours a day: Customers really don’t just call within business hours anymore. IVRs can be used to provide 24/7 customer service.

How do you set up an IVR?

There are many IVR software providers offering easy-to-use, cloud-based solutions.

You can also purchase an on-premise IVR system, but they are more expensive and require IT support.

When choosing an IVR provider, it is important to consider your company’s needs and budget.

Step 1: Determine the needs of your business

Before choosing an IVR provider, determine your company’s needs

Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • How many calls do you expect to have?
  • What is the average length of an interview?
  • What are your customer service hours?
  • What is your company’s budget?
  • What are your company’s call volume goals?

Step 2: Research IVR providers

Once you know your company’s needs, research different IVR providers

Find a provider that offers a solution that meets your needs and budget.

Be sure to read online reviews of the providers you are considering and also look for companies you can talk to that are already customers.

Step 3: Setting up your IVR system

IVR providers have a lot of experience and are happy to help you get started. Just follow your provider’s instructions to set up the system.

Most providers offer an easy-to-use, cloud-based solution that does not require IT support.

Some on-premise IVR systems are more expensive and do require IT support.

Step 4: Test your IVR

After you’ve set up your IVR system, it’s time to test it to make sure it’s working properly.

Place a test call and navigate the menus to make sure the options work as expected.

You can also test the system by calling from different phone numbers to make sure it can handle multiple incoming calls simultaneously.

Step 5: Train your employees

Once you’ve tested the IVR, train your employees on how to use it.

It is important that they know how to use the system so that they can properly support your customers.

Provide them with a list of frequently asked questions and answers so they are prepared to help callers.

Best practices and mistakes you want to avoid

There are a number of things to consider when setting up an interactive voice response system:

Inform customers of wait times

Let callers know how long they should wait to be connected to a live agent if you have to put them on hold or on hold, so they know what to expect and can schedule their time accordingly.

Avoid too many menu options

A long and complicated IVR menu can be difficult for callers to navigate – it is generally recommended to provide a maximum of 5 main menu options that should be listed in order of importance.

Keep it simple and write for the ear

Use language in your conversations that is clear and easy to understand for anyone calling your helpline – avoid unnecessary specific industry terms, abbreviations and complicated words.

Place extension numbers at the end

Callers may not know what extension they are looking for, but they know what department they need – make sure they always hear the option for the action (“For sales, press 1,” rather than “Press 1 for sales”).

Consider a callback option

If the lines are too busy and the queues too long, be sure to enable an automatic callback feature to shorten queues, reduce customer effort and reduce the number of dropped calls.

Examples of IVR menus

To make setting up your own IVR a little easier, we’ve created some ready-made templates for you to use for your calls. Use it to your advantage!

Welcome message IVR template

Welcome to [Bedrijf]. Unfortunately, all lines are currently busy. Be patient and stay on the line. Your call will be transferred to one of our customer service representatives as soon as possible. Your current wait time is [aantal] minutes.

Hello and thanks for calling [Bedrijf], [de missie of slogan van het bedrijf]. Currently, all of our lines are busy. We ask for your patience. Your call will be answered by the next available agent. Your estimated wait time is less than [aantal] minutes.

Thank you for calling [Bedrijf]. If you would like to share your feedback with us at the end of the conversation, by answering one simple question, press 1 now and help us improve this experience in the future. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered in the order it was received.

IVR menu options

Hello and thank you for calling [Bedrijf]. If you know the extension of the person you want to reach, enter it now. Otherwise, choose from the following options:

To speak with the operator, press 0 at any time.

For sale, press 1.

For technical support, press 2.

For billing, press 3.

For information about our company, press 4.

To repeat this message, press 9.

Hello and thanks for calling [Bedrijf], [de missie of slogan van het bedrijf]. Our normal business hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you already know the extension i want to achieve, you can always enter it. Otherwise, listen to the following menu:

To continue in Spanish, press 1.

To continue in French, press 2.

To reach the [naam] department, press 3.

To reach the [naam] department, press 4.

To speak with an operator, stay on the line and the next available agent will get to you in a moment.

Thanks for calling [Bedrijf]. Our offices are currently closed. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

To leave a message in our general mailbox, press 1. A representative will contact you the next business day.

To access our company directory, press 2.

For directions to our office, press 3.

For more information about our products and services, visit [website].

To repeat this message, press the # key.

In the queue

Our apologies for the long wait. If you prefer to leave a voicemail, press 0 and speak your name, phone number and question. We will call you back as soon as possible. Otherwise, feel free to stay on hold, and the next available agent will take your call.

All lines are still busy and we ask for your patience. Your wait time is estimated at [aantal] minutes. While you wait, feel free to browse our website at We offer [details van uw aanbod].

Thanks for waiting, our support staff is still busy with other customers. To leave a message and hang up, press 1. We will contact you during our business hours. Otherwise, stay on hold and the next available agent will answer your call.

The maximum waiting time has been achieved

You have exceeded the queue limit for this queue. Hang up and try your call again in a few minutes.

All of our staff are still busy. Sorry for the inconvenience. Hang up and try again later or contact us via email at [e-mailadres].

We apologize, but we are currently experiencing high call volume. Hang up and try again later, email us at [e-mailadres] or chat with us online at

We are sorry that your call cannot be completed at this time as we are experiencing unusually high call volume. Hang up and try the call again.

Your call cannot currently be connected due to overload. Hang up and try again. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Get Called Back

You requested that the next available agent call you back from the queue. You can hang up now and wait for our call. Goodbye.

Thank you for your request to be called back by [Bedrijf]. One of our staff will contact you shortly. You can hang up now and wait for our call. Goodbye.

Thank you for your callback request. One of our staff will contact you shortly to answer all your questions. Hang up and wait for our call. Goodbye.

You submitted a callback request to [bedrijf]. We look forward to speaking with you and will contact you soon within our business hours. Goodbye.

Out of office hours

Thank you for calling [Bedrijf]. Our office is currently closed. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please leave your name, phone number and your request. A representative will return your call as soon as possible. If you need immediate help, check out our knowledge base or our FAQs in the “help” section of our website.

Thank you for calling [Bedrijf]. Our office is currently closed. Our business hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. To leave a message, press 1. A representative will contact you within one business day. For information on office hours, press 2. You can also email us at [bedrijfsmail]. For more information on our products and services, visit

Thank you for calling [Bedrijf]. We are currently unavailable. Leave a message after the beep, or contact us during business hours: Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

IVR: in summary

An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system is a valuable tool that can help your company reduce customer service costs and improve customer satisfaction. To set up an IVR, our team can help you determine your company’s needs and set up the best IVR for you. Contact us today to get started!