What is IVR?

What is Interactive Voice Response?

IVR is a telephony system that allows customers to interact with it before, or instead of, speaking to a human agent. There are several use cases for IVR:

Recorded Menu

When a menu is presented to the customer, key questions are asked to help direct their inquiry to the correct department and agent within the contact center. Typically, customers can either respond by dialing a number into their keypads, or by speaking their answers (ASR or NLP).

Automated Message

Organizations can also record a message communicating key information to its customers. For example, a utilities company may let its customers know that a fault in a particular area has already been reported, and is being dealt with.

Identification and Verification

IVR can also be used to verify the identity of a customer, and present the correct account to the customer service agent. For example, an insurance company might use IVR to ask for a car registration number, customer reference number, and password.

The Types of IVR

Automated Speech Recognition

Automated Speech Recognition, or ASR, refers to technology that allows people to use voice to speak with a computer interface in a way that attempts to resemble normal human conversation. These are typically based on “yes” or “no” questions. However, ASR has built up a somewhat negative reputation over the years, as more complex sentences often cannot be understood by the system.

Natural Language Processing

Natural Language Processing, or NLP, is a more advanced variation of ASR, focused on recognizing language and deriving its meaning in a way that is valuable. NLP is often used to interpret the answer to broader questions, such as “please describe the nature of your inquiry”.

How IVR Works

In the past, setting up IVR was very complicated, requiring a phone system, a database, and dedicated infrastructure supporting multiple servers.

However, due to the rise of Cloud CCaaS solutions, IVR systems are now easy to set up and optimize for your business.

Using a digital interface, contact center managers can create a series of conditions that direct inquiries to the correct agent and/or department.

For example, a customer might press 3 for “amending insurance policies”. Their call would then be directed to the insurance department.

Benefits of IVR

Improved Customer Experience

Customers speak to the correct agent for their inquiry first time.


Self-serve functions and automated messages save valuable agent time and drive down contact center costs.

24/Hour Support

Simple inquiries can be dealt with 24/7. For more complex inquiries, customers can request a callback in opening hours.

Ready to learn more about IVR?

Cloud Contact Center solutions such as storm® provide IVR capabilities, allowing organizations to reduce their wait times, drive down agent costs, and offer 24/7 support to their customers.

IVR is just one of the tools storm provides, with its CCaaS solution offering businesses from a variety of sectors with a comprehensive, user-friendly interface, which provides an effortless solution to resolving queries and issues without losing the quality of service that customers expect.