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IVR Systems


 
Five9 Cloud Contact Center logo
 
Five9 is used by call centers around the world to manage inbound, outbound, blended or multi-channel contact centers.  It offers IVR with speech recognition, multi-channel ACD, predictive dialer and customer relationship management... Read More
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Five9 is used by call centers around the world to manage inbound, outbound, blended or multi-channel contact centers.  It offers IVR with speech recognition, multi-channel ACD, predictive dialer and customer relationship management... Read More
 
Plum logo
 
Plum is a cloud-based interactive voice response (IVR) solution that helps with automating customer interactions and business processes. Plum provides its users with IVR capabilities, call routing, messaging, feedback collection,... Read More
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Plum is a cloud-based interactive voice response (IVR) solution that helps with automating customer interactions and business processes. Plum provides its users with IVR capabilities, call routing, messaging, feedback collection,... Read More
 
Connect First Call Center logo
 
Connect First is a Web-based contact center solution designed for companies of all sizes. It delivers multi-channel contact management, automated call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), computer telephony integration... Read More
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Connect First is a Web-based contact center solution designed for companies of all sizes. It delivers multi-channel contact management, automated call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), computer telephony integration... Read More
 
Voxco IVR logo
 
Voxco IVR is a cloud-based interactive voice response (IVR) messaging and survey solution. It allows users to design self-completion surveys and send automated voice messages to a broad audience. Voxco IVR’s survey module sends... Read More
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Voxco IVR is a cloud-based interactive voice response (IVR) messaging and survey solution. It allows users to design self-completion surveys and send automated voice messages to a broad audience. Voxco IVR’s survey module sends... Read More
 
Kixie PowerCall logo
 
Kixie PowerCall is an interactive voice response (IVR) solution that helps users automate their sales processes. It can be deployed both on-premise and in the cloud. Kixie PowerCall offers users one-click dialing, call recording,... Read More
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Kixie PowerCall is an interactive voice response (IVR) solution that helps users automate their sales processes. It can be deployed both on-premise and in the cloud. Kixie PowerCall offers users one-click dialing, call recording,... Read More

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inContact Cloud Contact Center logo
 
inContact is a SaaS-based call center software that helps businesses to maximizes the quality of leads and minimizes the cost of client interaction. The solution comprises of many features required to process inbound support requests... Read More
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inContact is a SaaS-based call center software that helps businesses to maximizes the quality of leads and minimizes the cost of client interaction. The solution comprises of many features required to process inbound support requests... Read More
 
Convoso Cloud Contact Center logo
 
Convoso Cloud Contact Center is a robust, integrated call center solution with a predictive dialer and inbound call support.  This cloud-based solution gives small and midsize businesses a full set of tools and is priced based on... Read More
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Convoso Cloud Contact Center is a robust, integrated call center solution with a predictive dialer and inbound call support.  This cloud-based solution gives small and midsize businesses a full set of tools and is priced based on... Read More
 
ChaseData Call Center logo
 
ChaseData Call Center software offers web-based, standalone call center functionality with customer service and support built into the software. It’s designed for outbound, inbound, and blended call center teams. Dialing capabilities... Read More
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ChaseData Call Center software offers web-based, standalone call center functionality with customer service and support built into the software. It’s designed for outbound, inbound, and blended call center teams. Dialing capabilities... Read More
 
Nextiva VoIP logo
 
Nextiva's Business VoIP solutions offer telephony services for small businesses with functionality that eliminates the need for a traditional phone system. The packages include VoIP phone systems, scalable PBX trunks, online faxing... Read More
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Nextiva's Business VoIP solutions offer telephony services for small businesses with functionality that eliminates the need for a traditional phone system. The packages include VoIP phone systems, scalable PBX trunks, online faxing... Read More
 
Aspect Zipwire logo
 
Aspect Zipwire delivers cloud call center services and its multi-channel inbound and outbound capabilities serve small to enterprise-level organizations. The software functionality includes tools to manage sales, marketing, and customer... Read More
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Aspect Zipwire delivers cloud call center services and its multi-channel inbound and outbound capabilities serve small to enterprise-level organizations. The software functionality includes tools to manage sales, marketing, and customer... Read More

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ContactWorld for Sales by NewVoiceMedia logo
 
ContactWorld for Sales is a Web-based contact center solution for organizations of all sizes and industries. The software provides integration with Salesforce, which enables agents to directly work in the Salesforce user interface.... Read More
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ContactWorld for Sales is a Web-based contact center solution for organizations of all sizes and industries. The software provides integration with Salesforce, which enables agents to directly work in the Salesforce user interface.... Read More
 
X5 Cloud Contact Center logo
 
X5 Cloud Contact Center developed by Ytel is used by various SMB call center companies and businesses with dedicated phone support teams. This solution offers an integrated call center suite with features including automated call... Read More
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X5 Cloud Contact Center developed by Ytel is used by various SMB call center companies and businesses with dedicated phone support teams. This solution offers an integrated call center suite with features including automated call... Read More
 
RingCentral Contact Center logo
 
Coud communications provider RingCentral has recently expanded into the Call Center space with their Contact Center solution. The suite is powered by inContact and offers Automatic Call Distribution, Interactive Voice Response, CTI,... Read More
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Coud communications provider RingCentral has recently expanded into the Call Center space with their Contact Center solution. The suite is powered by inContact and offers Automatic Call Distribution, Interactive Voice Response, CTI,... Read More
 
Cloud Contact Center logo
 
Cloud Contact Center, by Telax Voice Solutions, is a call center management solution designed for SMB companies in various industries. Government agencies, retail, energy, healthcare, insurance, professional services, engineering,... Read More
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Cloud Contact Center, by Telax Voice Solutions, is a call center management solution designed for SMB companies in various industries. Government agencies, retail, energy, healthcare, insurance, professional services, engineering,... Read More
 
Sharpen logo
 
Sharpen’s cloud-native platform is a SaaS contact center solution for midsize to large enterprise businesses. As an all-in-one solution, the platform provides businesses the ability to communicate with customers by SMS, MMS, live... Read More
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Sharpen’s cloud-native platform is a SaaS contact center solution for midsize to large enterprise businesses. As an all-in-one solution, the platform provides businesses the ability to communicate with customers by SMS, MMS, live... Read More

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Aspect Via Customer Engagement Center logo
 
Aspect Via Customer Engagement Center is a web-based contact center suitable for organizations with 100 or more concurrent and named users. The system is a complete set of customer service capabilities including self-service, omnichannel... Read More
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Aspect Via Customer Engagement Center is a web-based contact center suitable for organizations with 100 or more concurrent and named users. The system is a complete set of customer service capabilities including self-service, omnichannel... Read More
 
Augutech Predictive Dialer logo
 
Augutech is a cloud-based predictive dialer solution suitable for small to midsize businesses. Key features include inbound and outbound calling, automatic dialing, call recording and performance analytics. Augutech Predictive Dialer... Read More
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Augutech is a cloud-based predictive dialer solution suitable for small to midsize businesses. Key features include inbound and outbound calling, automatic dialing, call recording and performance analytics. Augutech Predictive Dialer... Read More
 
XenCALL Predictive Dialer CRM logo
 
XenCALL is a cloud-based call center solution for companies of all sizes in a variety of industries. Key features include automatic call distribution, interactive voice response, auto dialing, scheduling, performance analytics and... Read More
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XenCALL is a cloud-based call center solution for companies of all sizes in a variety of industries. Key features include automatic call distribution, interactive voice response, auto dialing, scheduling, performance analytics and... Read More
 
Aspect CXP Pro logo
 
Aspect CXP Pro is a cloud-based interactive voice response (IVR) tool suitable for large businesses in industries such as banking, manufacturing, government, healthcare, retail and transportation. Aspect CXP Pro combines the applications... Read More
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Aspect CXP Pro is a cloud-based interactive voice response (IVR) tool suitable for large businesses in industries such as banking, manufacturing, government, healthcare, retail and transportation. Aspect CXP Pro combines the applications... Read More
 
Configuration Tools logo
 
Configuration Tools by OneReach is a web-based omnichannel system designed for all size companies and enterprises. The agent interface system allows users who are logged in to manage live inbound and outbound phone calls, text messages,... Read More
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Configuration Tools by OneReach is a web-based omnichannel system designed for all size companies and enterprises. The agent interface system allows users who are logged in to manage live inbound and outbound phone calls, text messages,... Read More
 

Buyer's Guide

by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: September 22, 2017


Interactive voice response (IVR) systems are a foundational technology for inbound contact centers. They allow callers to complete tasks over the phone, either via voice response or numerical keypad input.

IVR software can dramatically streamline the performance of a contact center—particularly when used in conjunction with customer relationship management (CRM) software. But it isn’t the best fit for all business models. IVR systems offer complex, specialized functionality, and are packaged in different ways by different vendors.

That’s why we’ve written this guide to help you better understand which systems will work best for your needs. In it, we’ll cover the following topics:

What Is IVR Software?
Benefits of Using IVR Software
Common Functionality
IVR Systems vs. Auto-Attendants
Best-of-Breed Systems vs. Contact Center Suites

What Is IVR Software?

IVR software accomplishes two major goals:

  1. It helps callers help themselves through “self-service.” These systems provide automated menus that allow callers to complete tasks without assistance from support agents.
  2. In conjunction with an automated call distribution (ACD) system, an IVR system helps route callers to the right support agent when their needs can’t be met by self-service options. (An ACD system parks incoming calls in a queue until agents are available to answer, and then distributes calls to agents using rules that factor in agent skills, performance metrics etc.) For instance, if a caller says or enters the numerical option for “billing” using the IVR system, they’ll be routed into the call queue (controlled by the ACD system) for an agent in that department.

IVR systems follow a branching menu structure known as a “menu tree.” The top-level menu may include options for, say, “support” and “billing.” If the caller selects “support,” they’ll be funneled into a submenu that contains numerous self-service options for support issues (e.g., instructions on how to reset a device). If these options don’t meet the caller’s needs, the caller will be routed to a support agent.

Branching Prompts in an IVR Menu Tree

Branching Prompts in an IVR Menu Tree

As mentioned, the IVR menu tree also assists in call routing through integration with ACD systems, which use callers’ spoken or touch-tone responses as they navigate the IVR system to route calls to the right agent.

Benefits of Using IVR Software

Customers may not know what the term “IVR” means—but they do know what they like and don’t like, and many perceive IVR technology as annoying and difficult to use. So why does your call center need an IVR system in the first place?

The answer is that IVR can cut down on the number of calls agents have to handle by enabling callers to resolve certain issues through self-service options. By reducing the overall number of calls your contact center handles, you can slash your top expense: personnel.

Moreover, even though consumers tend to dislike IVR technology, they probably aren’t thinking through the alternative: a drawn-out interaction with a support agent. When we interviewed call center benchmarking expert Bruce Belfiore about IVR design best practices, he noted that some consumers (particularly younger callers) prefer to avoid interacting with a support agent whenever possible. These callers actually prefer IVR and other self-service technologies.

Additionally, even if an IVR system isn’t able to fully meet a caller’s needs, it can still automate the initial steps of collecting information and routing the caller to the right group of agents. Without an IVR, these steps would need to be handled by human workers—increasing the number of transfers (and, most likely, the caller’s level of frustration) before getting the call to the right agent.

Simply think back to the times you’ve been bounced around like a ping-pong ball between multiple contact center agents who couldn’t answer your question, and you’ll quickly realize the value of IVR.

Common Functionality

The following list of IVR capabilities includes standard offerings of most systems. This list also includes more advanced capabilities offered by niche vendors or enabled via integrations with other contact center applications:

Visual IVR designer A drag-and-drop graphical user interface for designing IVR call flows (the branching menus through which callers pass as they select options for support, sales, billing etc.).
Automated speech recognition (ASR) Allows callers to speak responses instead of using touch-tone input. Frequently requires the use of third-party ASR software, though many IVR vendors partner with ASR vendors to deliver a complete solution. Some systems allow for voiceprint authentication (comparing audio data from a call with a model of the caller’s voice) to verify caller identity.
Text-to-speech (TTS)/common data speaker Text-to-speech enables the system to read information from databases out loud for customers (payment history, account balances etc.), as opposed to simply playing recorded prompts. Also assists in the development of IVR menu prompts. A common data speaker is a more basic capability that only allows highly structured data, such as dates and numbers, to be converted into speech.
Multilingual support Enables the IVR menu structure to play prompts and recognize spoken responses in multiple languages.
Data retrieval from Web server Allows customer data to be retrieved from a Web server in order to verify response input (e.g., checking a spoken account number against a stored account number) and otherwise assist agents.
Computer telephony integration (CTI) Data collected from the IVR system (e.g., a customer’s name) is displayed on an agent’s screen to help the agent better assist the caller.
ACD integration Data collected from the IVR is used to prioritize calls within queues and to distribute calls to various agent skill groups (if the ACD system offers skills-based routing). Users can also enable options such as hold music and estimated wait times to keep callers on the line.
Customer satisfaction surveys IVR surveys can collect voice or touch-tone responses from callers about their levels of satisfaction with the agent or the IVR system itself. These responses are fed into contact center reporting tools for visibility into key performance indicators.
Outbound IVR/notification system Outbound notifications such as surveys, appointment reminders and account alerts can be delivered to customers via voice, email, fax, SMS text etc. Voice notifications include IVR self-service options that can help the caller resolve the issue (e.g., pay an unpaid bill).
Visual IVR Allows customers to navigate a visual representation of an IVR menu on a website or within a native app running on a desktop, laptop or smartphone. This is a new technology many vendors don’t yet offer, though a handful of niche vendors specialize in adding visual IVR capabilities to solutions from major contact center vendors.


Visual IVR designer in Five9

IVR Systems vs. Auto Attendants

Businesses frequently think they need an IVR system when they actually only need an auto attendant. IVR systems are sophisticated solutions that are offered on a stand-alone basis or as components of integrated contact center suites. Auto attendants, on the other hand, are standard components of office phone systems.

The basic difference between an auto attendant and an IVR system is: An auto attendant merely routes callers to extensions in a business’s directory, whereas an IVR provides callers with automated self-service options. Auto attendants also tend to lack advanced features such as speech recognition. Nearly every office with a phone system uses some kind of auto attendant, but in most cases, only contact centers use IVR systems.

You can consult our guide to auto attendants for more information on what they do and how they differ from IVRs.

Best-of-Breed Systems vs. Contact Center Suites

Vendors offer IVR systems two different ways: as “best-of-breed” systems sold on a stand-alone basis, or packaged within integrated suites of contact center applications.

Stand-alone IVR solutions are designed to be integrated with systems businesses have already deployed, such as:

By opting for a stand-alone IVR, organizations can avoid replacing the above systems, which frequently represent significant expenditures. PBX integrations allow IVR data to be used in call routing and enable call recording, among other capabilities.

Integrating an IVR and a standard business phone system can provide benefits, such as improved call routing. However, IVR systems usually need to be integrated with a suite of dedicated contact center applications in order to maximize those positive results.

In a contact center environment, data collected by the IVR can be pushed to agents’ computer screens or fed into reporting tools. The IVR integrates with the ACD system to provide sophisticated call routing. Finally, customers who don’t want to interact via voice have other options with a multi-channel contact center solution.

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