Empower your contact center with Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

Enhance your contact center platform to better cater to
your business needs.

Full name*

Enter a valid full name

Work email*

Enter a valid email address

Business phone number*

Enter a valid phone number

Company name*

Enter a valid company name

Number of employees*

Enter a valid number of employees

Number of employees*

Enter a valid number of employees

*Required fields
By clicking the button above, you consent to receiving calls and emails from RingCentral. Calls may be connected using automated technology.
Thank you for your interest in RingCentral
A sales advisor will contact you within 24 hours. If you'd like to speak to someone now, please call (800) 574 5290
A woman listening to an IVR prompt
A woman listening to an IVR prompt
A man and woman on an active phone call
A man and woman on an active phone call

What is IVR?

Interactive voice response, or IVR, is an automated business phone system feature that interacts with callers and gathers information by giving them choices via a menu. It then performs actions based on the caller’s answers (either through the phone keypad or their voice response).
The caller’s choices decide the actions of the IVR system—it can provide information or, if the issue is more complex, route callers to a human agent who can better handle their needs.
If you have ever called a customer service phone number and been answered by an automated greeting that proceeds to interact with you via a pre-recorded message, then you know what an IVR is.

What is the use of IVR?

Normally, IVRs are used to route calls based on the caller’s choices. Through these choices, it can determine if the caller wants to contact the billing department, the technical support team, or simply wants to talk to a human operator.
It’s also used to provide information like promos, updates, or other important information or instructions. One example is to inform callers that the system will record calls and ask if they want to proceed.
A female contact center agent looking at the RingCentral agent dashboard
A female contact center agent looking at the RingCentral agent dashboard
Traditionally, it was only used to organize call queues of call centers. IVR systems, however, have come a long way since they were first developed to provide assistance. They are now often used to automate simple processes and offer self-service options to callers. This is to resolve simple customer needs and queries that are normally handled by contact center agents.
Some examples of processes that IVRs can do now include:
  • Inquire about the account balance
  • Access account information
  • Set PIN numbers or change passwords
  • Look up information (product price, directory, etc.)
  • Fill out lead forms and surveys
  • Make payments or transfer funds

What is IVR payment?

This is an IVR feature that allows customers to make payments for bills, fees, etc. over the phone. This is usually achieved by integrating your IVR system with third-party payment gateway applications that have security and compliance measures in place to protect customers. For more information about integrations, refer to the RingCentral App Gallery.

How does an IVR work?

In the past, IVR technology was a real pain to set up. The requirements are not only expensive, but making them work together used to be pretty complicated. In fact, traditional IVRs needed the following before they could work:
IVR software. This is separate from the main communications platform (on-premise or cloud-based phone system) and needs its own set of hardware to work. It needed a telephone service (PSTN or VoIP phone system).
A database to pull information from.
Its own infrastructure to support it, including several servers.
A group of contact center agents providing support to callers
A group of contact center agents providing support to callers
A female employee showing her colleagues how to install an IVR
A female employee showing her colleagues how to install an IVR

How to install an IVR

Contact center solutions like RingCentral have IVR software automatically integrated into their system, also described as voice portals. All components you need to make the technology work—like telephony, databases, and servers—are handled by the provider in the cloud.
This means there’s no more need for separate software, in-house infrastructure, or specialists whose only job is to maintain and manage the IVR. That should significantly reduce costs compared to traditional IVRs. Since it’s integrated, it also works wonderfully with other essential features like automatic call distribution (ACD).

Here’s how a simple IVR works with the other features of your contact center

  1. Once a call is received and greeted by the auto-attendant of the ACD, your IVR kicks in and presents the caller with the phone menu.
  2. The caller interacts with the IVR phone menu. Callers are presented with a series of options. Most IVR systems use dual-tone multi-frequency tones or DTMF tones to interact with your caller, which is just the technical way of saying that it uses the caller’s telephone touch-tone phone keypad.

    Contact centers also support voice response through speech recognition in their IVR features, which allows callers to interact with the system using their voice.

  3. As the caller navigates the menu, their query or purpose for calling can be resolved through the IVR self-service process. If not, the call will be sorted into a category by the IVR. This is the qualification phase, which will then trigger the skills-based routing feature. IVR allows the system to identify the representatives who have the skills to handle the caller’s needs. The ACD then routes the call to an available qualified live agent, and the transitions between each feature are seamless.
An example of an IVR menu
An example of an IVR menu

What is an IVR menu?

The IVR menu is the response system that helps customers navigate the IVR experience. It can be used by the caller by pressing the touch-tone dial pad or via their voice, whichever one is programmed into the IVR.
You’ve probably encountered it a million times. Think “Press 1 for customer service, or press 2 for technical help.” If you know those lines, then you’re familiar with what a basic IVR menu is.
It’s also called a phone tree because it can have many levels (or branches). One option can lead to two or three more options, depending on how deep you program your IVR.
Of course, the recommendation is to keep the IVR menu or phone tree as simple as possible. But it still depends on the needs of your organization.

How do you set up your IVR?

Setting up an IVR used to be a complicated process. But now that it's part of a cloud-based contact center solution, setting up an IVR isn’t as tricky anymore. RingCentral, in particular, makes it easy even for people with no programming background.
You can customize the IVR platform through an easy-to-understand drag-and-drop interface you can access from your web browser.
This lets you and your team design and customize the IVR menu and call flow in the way you think best serves your customers without relying on a costly specialist.
A female contact center agent working on her laptop
A female contact center agent working on her laptop

What are the benefits of IVR?

Adopting a modern IVR feature into your contact center can bring your business different benefits and advantages. Here are some of the most common ones.

What is IVR’s role in customer experience?

Customer experience is all about the overall quality of your customer’s exposure to your company. You must keep the customer’s experience positive to sustain your business. Happy customers tend to turn into loyal customers. Beyond that, customers with a positive experience with your company can become ambassadors for your brand, which can lead to more customers.

Now, what is IVR’s role in all that?
Your IVR could be a customer’s very first direct interaction with your company. It can, therefore, set the tone of your relationship with them whenever they have queries and concerns that need to be resolved. A good and well-structured IVR system can start your customer off on a positive note. To give you some examples, here are some ways you can use RingCentral’s IVR feature to increase positive customer experience.
Self-service transactions
and processes

One of the fastest ways to improve customer satisfaction is to deliver what the customer needs as quickly as possible. And what can be faster than when the customer is able to find the answer they need by themselves?

By implementing self-service options for simple processes and transactions, customers no longer have to endure long wait times and hold times, or even deal with agents.

Efficient skills-based call routing

IVRs also help agents provide a better customer experience.

How? By only sending them calls that they're equipped to handle.

This intelligent routing feature of the cloud contact center allows companies to designate skills to their call center agents.

Through a series of IVR menu options, the caller’s concerns and the skills needed to resolve them can be determined. From that information, the call will be routed to the agent best equipped to handle the concern.

As a result, it reduces the chance of having a caller being matched to an agent who cannot answer their questions, which can lead to a negative customer experience.

Speech recognition and natural language processing

Advanced IVR is no longer just limited to a touch-tone keypad selection response from the telephone keypad. You can enable speech recognition technology that uses natural language processing. It works like a conversational AI (artificial intelligence) that picks up keywords and terms from the caller’s voice to determine why they’re calling.

This is especially helpful for customers who are visually impaired and may have difficulty navigating the IVR menu via telephone touchpad.

Business hours

Another way you can set customer expectations is by customizing how the IVR handles calls during and after business hours.

If you don’t have enough people to support customer queries after business hours, you can present a different set of phone menus. This will ideally be a limited version of your work-hours menu.

It may not even include an option to talk to an agent—just an automated greeting informing them to leave a voicemail or to call again during business hours. This way, your customers will not expect the same amount of attention as they would if they called within business hours.

Selection of available RingCentral integrations (Google, Zendesk, Salesforce, and more)
Selection of available RingCentral integrations (Google, Zendesk, Salesforce, and more)

Integrations with different apps

Some phone service providers like RingCentral allow you to integrate the IVR with different apps that your company is using. This opens a lot of possibilities.
With a customer relationship management system or CRM integration, the IVR is able to retrieve more information and improve classification of customers, which would help the system match him or her to the right agent.
Back-office systems can be integrated with interactive voice response, so callers can get updates on their accounts, purchases, or transactions without the need to talk to an agent.
Integrations with payment gateways offer automated payment options via phone without talking to an agent.

Learn more about RingCX today

Create effortless employee and customer experiences from one AI-powered platform.

Explore more RingCentral CX Solutions

Leverage IVR technology for superior customer service and more with RingCentral