What is IVR and How Does it Work

What is IVR and How Does it Work?

If you are in the kind of industry that requires customers and clients to call for support or to order items you might already know about IVR and how it can help your workflow. If you have never heard of it, you could be missing out on a dynamic tool that has the ability to take care of most of the hard work for you, and allow for your customers to have an efficient, smooth experience whenever they call your company for whatever reason.

Interactive Voice Response

An interactive voice response system allows for incoming calls to be automatically answered and handled accordingly. When people call the number they are greeted by a series of pre-recorded messages that direct them through the process of getting the help that they are looking for.

For example, the pre-recorded menu can have a list of options that the caller can choose from in order to get answers for a specific question or topic. There can be a list of topics that provide:

  • General account information
  • Order information
  • Department information
  • Basic instructions

When customers have a well-developed system to assist them when they call in, many of them may never even need to talk to a live agent or a customer service rep. However, the system can be designed to patch the callers through to a live agent if necessary.

Different Types of Systems

Depending on how the system is developed and the type of service that it can provide there may be more sophisticated systems than others. Some of the less advanced models can be navigated through pressing buttons, but some of the newer systems allow for voice commands. Artificial intelligence can play a major role in the way that the systems interact with humans and voice recognition. 

Although some systems may be more advanced than others, all of these systems are made from highly advanced technological solutions that have been evolving gradually over the years. At the rate that this technology is advancing, it might not be long before artificial intelligence will be smart enough to handle all of the calls without the help of humans.

DTMF Tones and IVR

DTMF, also known as dual-tone multi-frequency signaling is the way that phones interact and communicate with IVR. You may have already noticed that each of the tones that your phone makes when you press the numbers to make a call sound different. This is the way that developers were able to create such a sophisticated system in the first place. When the technology first came out, it was as basic as touching the numbers on the phone to get to where the system could lead the user through the options of the menu in order to gain the objective of the call.

Smart Speech Recognition Software

Developers continue to advance the way that software can perceive and understand human language. Speech recognition is when the software can “hear” words and commands then be able to determine what actions to proceed with. For example, if a caller calls into an IVR system the software will ask a question that has the answer of yes or no. Based on the voice response of the user, the system can direct the user to the appropriate channel for the next step in the process. 

With the help of artificial intelligence, speech recognition can be even more advanced and provide a more robust selection of options and solutions for the options. 

What Is an IVR and How Does It Work?

For example, instead of a yes or no question, the software could ask for a series of words that can describe a problem that they need help with. This will allow a user to say phrases such as “my payment did not go through,” or “my order was not correct.”

It is easy to see that with the help of a sophisticated IVR system the daily flow of incoming calls can be managed without having to have an abundance of live agents to answer questions.

Customizing the System

Each IVR system can be uniquely customized to work with the specific needs of the organization that is implementing it. From the basic questions at the beginning of the call to the path that the user can go through in order to access information to their account balances and other sensitive areas that need high-end security measures the structure of each call can be handcrafted to fit the obligations for virtually every company.


Technology has come a long way over the last several years. Advancements such as smartphones and video conferencing software have evolved to the point where just about everybody uses them on a daily basis.

Platforms such as interactive voice response, video chats, and other useful creations help to cut costs and reduce the everyday stresses of establishments that deal with a high volume of calls. The solutions are out there, you just have to look for them.

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