IVR System & Everything You Need to Know About

Interactive Voice Response – IVR System

IVR system or IVR tech. are something we have all used at least once in our lives. What does it entail? Technically speaking, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a technology that allows a pre-recorded voice to interact with humans through the use of voice and DTMF tones input via the keypad. What this means is, when you call, the voice on the other end will be a computer generated voice. You can use your phone’s keyboard to create a certain outcome.

In other words, an IVR system or application provides pre-recorded voice responses for appropriate situations to access relevant data. For instance, let’s say you call an E-commerce company regarding a purchase query. As soon as you call, here’s what happens: When the phone rings, you’ll first hear a greeting welcoming you and giving you a set of options such as “Press 1 to speak to our Support team” and “Press 2 to speak to our Sales team”. Now you press 1 You get connected to the support team (a human) at the other end and get your query solved.

While an IVR system is usually used as an entry point to route calls, you can also use IVR to automate tasks. That means a customer can get the job done without ever having to speak to an actual agent.


Multi-Level IVR System

Now that you know what’s an IVR system is, think of Multi-level IVR as an IVR within an IVR. Sometimes, an IVR menu can get long and unmanageable with a 0-9 prompt. And multi-level IVR is the perfect solution to that problem.

For instance, let’s say you call an E-commerce company to find out your order status. As soon as you call, here’s what happens:

–It’ll first play a greeting welcoming you and be giving you a set of options. Say, “Press 1 for product information” and “Press 2 to for purchase related information”.

-Now you press 2

-You get connected to another set of options such are “Press 1 to know your order status” and “Press 2 to return your order”.

-Now you press 1.

-Your order status is read out to you and the call ends.



How have businesses traditionally used IVR system?

Traditionally, businesses have used IVR Number for various reasons:

1.For payments: This very common method allows your customer to pay for services availed using their mobile phones. From ordering movie tickets to home delivery, almost every division has used IVR for payments at some point.

2. For local language interaction: An IVR system that is completely automated is one of the most basic uses of IVR. If you’ve called a bank or your telephone operator, you would have definitely experienced the convenience of language options. It is the easiest way to communicate with people of all languages, without having to hire people who speak all these different languages.

3. Automated checking for order status: One of the slightly newer ways of using an IVR system is for checking the status of an order, be it in the food delivery space or the E-commerce segment. All a customer has to do is call the number given by the company, punch in his user ID and he gets the status of his order. This makes it simple for the customer while also avoiding the human intervention, thereby reducing the need for extra manpower.

4. Cash on delivery verification: Cash on delivery orders, if not verified, incur huge expenses for companies. Companies now use a simple IVR solution that ensures the order is verified by the customer before it goes out for delivery. This saves time, money and human resources for the company at stake.

Advantages of using IVR

1. Better customer experience: Having an IVR ensures your customers speak to the right person who can help them with what they are looking for. For instance, if your customers call to speak to the sales team and your IVR has an option to directly connect to the sales team, it would help them bypass all other levels of conversation. The easier it is for your customers to get connected to the right person, the happier your customer will be.

2. Project a large business image: As mentioned earlier, if you’ve ever called a massive company, you’ll most likely directly be routed to an IVR. An IVRs structured format makes it a systematic route for customers to follow. And of course, more systematic means more professional. Moreover, having a voice over artist creating the greeting message sets the tone for your conversation.

3. Business availability after hours: A lot of companies don’t work beyond a stipulated number of hours. And not all companies have a 24×7 customer support. In cases like these, IVRs can help. You can simply set up an IVR with a greeting that mentions your office is closed and also mentions your work hours. This will help customers call back during your business hours.

4. Personalisation: The best part about IVR is that it can be personalized. With Exotel, depending on the caller, you can decide what you want them to hear. Say for instance someone is calling for the first time, then you can play a greeting that different from when a person is calling the second or third time. Personalization is important because it helps your customer listen to more relevant information. Also, you can control the way the customer gets his experience.

5. Handle larger call volumes with a lean team: As we mentioned before, automating tasks is the best way to do things. The more you automate, the more time your team will have to do tasks that are more pressing and that cannot be automated. For instance, if a customer calls to check the order status, he can directly check this is your company automates the process. If you don’t, then the customer will have to speak to an executive which will again take up valuable time from the support agent’s schedule.

6. Gather information: IVR is the first point of contact for a customer. An IVR system such as Exotel’s, helps gather basic information about the customer quickly. IVR systems can also be used as a feedback mechanism.

7. Scalability: With an IVR system, it is easy to scale up without always spending on people. It is also just as easy to downsize as it is to upscale.

8. Saves time: Calling manually can be a cumbersome task. Automating a process that is repetitive can help save the time of the employees of any company. Using automated IVRs and texts, you can now reach a large number of people within a short span of time.

9. Great level of efficiency: With automated IVR systems, there are now streamlined processes in place. Your company is now able to have a process in place for all mundane tasks so that your staff can focus on other key activities.

Cons of IVR

1.Long wait times: Have you ever called your operator’s customer care and had to wait for at least 5 minutes before you can reach to the point that actually helps you? IVR systems, if not used the right way, can test the patience of customers with their long wait times.

Our suggestions: Keep your IVR messages short and easy to understand Don’t have too many layers of IVR. Basically, don’t keep connecting them multiple times within the call. Design the IVR flow based on your customer and his expectations. Don’t keep long IVRs in cases where your customer is someone who needs something urgently. Understand the customer

2. Complicated or unclear messages: Sometimes, in an attempt to keep the IVR exhaustive, the message gets complicated or unclear. When a customer calls and he hears such a message, he becomes unsure of what to do next. Also, it could potentially irritate him to a point where he just hangs up.

Our suggestions: Keep your message short and to the point. Test it out your IVR before it goes live. See if people understand what you have to say. See if it is intuitive enough.

3. The entire conversation ends without speaking to a person: Sometimes customers want to speak to a person because they find it easier. They may also find that your IVR does not cover something that they want to address. At times like these, the customer may find it frustrating to stay on the call, listening to pre-recorded messages over and over again.

Our suggestion: Always keep the option of speaking to someone open. You could also include speaking to an executive as an IVR option.

Outbound IVR

IVR can be used not only for incoming calls but also for outgoing calls. You can make calls with a pre-recorded message that will play when the person on the other end answers.

For instance, you would have heard certain E-commerce companies call to confirm your order. The voice prompt asks you to press a key to confirm your order and another in case you didn’t place an order. This is an automated outbound IVR call.

The advantage of using outbound IVR system is that it can be automated. Based on a customer or a user’s action, the IVR call can be customised to perform different functions.

How businesses use automated IVR systems:

Here are some of our clients who have used IVRs in a unique way:

1.Ola Cabs: Ola Cabs is one of India’s biggest cab aggregators. They power over 7,50,000 cab rides every day in over 100 cities. Ola cab is the perfect blend of technology and transportation. Ola works with a large number of drivers. And they need to constantly interact with these drivers to train them, update them about the latest changes to the app, etc. Owing to the sheer number of drivers they work with, manually calling them is a cumbersome task. Ola works with Exotel to automate this process using IVR. Click here to read how Ola did this.

2. Toit: Talk about the best breweries in Bangalore and Toit is sure to make it to the list. Started in 2010 by a group of 4 vibrant entrepreneurs, Toit is now one of Bangalore’s best breweries with sumptuous food and the best Ale in town. Toit uses Exotel’s automated IVR systems extensively. In fact, they use it to automate their table booking process and give directions to customers who are on the way to their restaurant. Here are the details of what Toit did.

3. Babajob: Babajob is a platform that connects people to jobs they qualify for, irrespective of whether they are on or off the internet. These are jobs that are usually informal. For example, the ones you would try to figure out via word of mouth ‐ say, drivers, cooks, etc. Babajob does the preliminary round of screening for these candidates via automated IVR calls. Based on the candidate’s response to the automated IVR questions, they are then connected to the right employers. Click here to see how they do it.

4. Amnesty International India:Amnesty International is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to help protect the rights of all human beings. Amnesty International India has a large supporter base all over India. They use automated IVRs to engage with their supporter. See how they do it.

5.Pratham books: Pratham books is an NGO that aims for an India where every child has a book to read. Pratham leveraged the power of automated IVR calls to ensure their vision is taken one step further. See what Pratham’s ‘Missed Call do Kahaani Suno’ campaign was all about.

6. Tirupathi Municipal Corporation (Smart City Project): The Government mandates the city administration to use social media and mobile governance for citizen consultations and to accommodate contrary voices in the strategy and planning for the Smart City Project. In order to collect objective feedback & data from the citizens, Exotel created a ward wise IVR survey campaign (Local language) to identify top issues of the city.

Things to remember before setting up an IVR for your business


-Have a pleasant IVR prompt

-Let the customers know the expected wait time for the call

-Have a short IVR

-Personalise the IVR


-Have long-winded IVR options

-Cut the call short without giving them an option to speak to an agent

-Have accents that are hard to understand the prompts

Here’s a detailed account of the Do’s and Don’ts (with survey stats)

Creating clear and usable IVR prompts for business.

Creating clear IVR prompts can be difficult. If you don’t know where to start, here are some suggestions on creating IVR prompts to help you get started.

Cost of implementing IVR for business

With the advent of cloud telephony, IVR no longer has to be forbiddingly expensive. With Exotel, you will be able to feature like IVR right from our basic plan that starts at Rs. 9,999/- for 6 months. Click here to see our pricing plans.

You may also be interested in:

1. How IVR systems are helping shape modern education in India
2. E-Commerce companies we cater to

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We have worked across cloud telephony players and with other vendors, but the fact is Exotel is dependable.

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Exotel's APIs are very clearly defined. Our tech team could integrate them in no time. It’s easy to incorporate into any product.

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We used to use a traditional PBX system before. But that doesn’t have the capabilities of Exotel’s IVR system. So, we decided to use Exotel for our IVR cancellation system.

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