IVR & Everything You Need to Know About

All You Need to Know About IVR

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 it to automate tasks. That means a customer can get the job done without ever having to speak to an actual agent.

Single-Level IVR System


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.


multilevel ivr


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.



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 call flow can be customized to perform different functions.

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. Its 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 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.

outbound ivr flow

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: It 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.

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.

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.

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 messages short and easy to understand Don’t have too many layers. Basically, don’t keep connecting them multiple times within the call. Design the call 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  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.

What is an IVR script? Why is it important?


One of the main reasons many people do not prefer an automated voice is the inability to bring out feelings of empathy or other feelings that make us human. At Exotel, we use Amazon Polly, a text-to-speech (TTS) engine that sounds very lifelike. We also have an in-house voiceover artist to help you with recording your script.



An IVR script is the first point of contact with customers. It builds the first impression for your business– and this is the ‘make or break’ point from their perspective. An IVR script must be able to help the callers efficiently, instead of aggravating their frustration.

So what does the ‘ideal’ IVR script contain? Here are some dos and don’ts to get started with your IVR scripts:

  • Keep your message clear and concise.
  • Use as few options as possible. Do not give too many rambly choices and confuse the caller.
  • Test out the message once before making it live. It might sound different from what you wrote out, or the tone might be missing something. Keep an eye out for it.
  • No one likes to wait in the queue or the holding time. Be apologetic about the hold message and mean it.

IVR Automation

Is it meant to be used only for greeting and first point of contact? Certainly not! There’s so much more that can be done with IVR.


ivr automation

What you can use IVR automation for?

1.  Surveys for market research: IVR is the most economical and easiest way to conduct a market-research survey. Understand your customer demographic and decode their purchasing preferences and habits with surveys. Not only does this help understand your current customers, it also offers insights into your potential customers and growth opportunities. The main advantage of IVR survey is that the results can be viewed immediately, and this accelerates the decision-making process.

2.  Feedback about customer satisfaction: IVR is typically seen as a call center tool, but it has a tremendous potential to double up as a feedback collection tool. If you have limited resources and an audience that is not tech-savvy, it is the best way to collect feedback. You can also use multilingual method to solicit feedback, thus ensuring language does not pose a problem.

3.  Large scale employment drive: Hiring for blue-collar jobs is a challenge, given how informal and unorganized the sector is. This segment is not your perfect candidate for tech adoption for job seeking. A simple IVR call blast can help with the initial screening of employees. This is particularly useful for driving large-scale hiring.

How have businesses traditionally used IVR system?


Traditionally, businesses have used IVR Number for various reasons:

ivr for business


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 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.

How businesses use automated IVR systems:


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

automated ivr


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. 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 calls. Based on the candidate’s response to the automated questions, they are then connected to the right employers. Click here to see how they do it.

3. Amnesty International India: Amnesty International is a not-for-profit organization 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.

4. Swiggy: Swiggy uses automated IVR calls to notify the restaurant when an order is placed. This helps them save order delays. They also make an automated call to the customer when a COD order is placed, to weed out bogus orders. Click to see how they do it.

5. Redbus: Ticket cancellation and Refund status inquiry are two main areas that were handled by agents. As a result of limited agents and thousands of calls, Redbus lines were always busy. They moved to IVR for these two categories, and this helped them save close to Rs. 3 million every year. Click to see how they do it.

6. Zostel: Zostel is India’s answer to a hostel for backpackers. It is currently operating in 14 cities. Zostel uses IVR to bring centralization for bookings, queries, and calls. Their menu helps to choose which Zostel they want to go to. Click to see how they do it

7. Agrostar: Agrostar has built their entire business on Exotel’s automated IVR. A menu asking farmers whether they are interested in procuring cotton related products is disseminated during the cotton season. This information is then captured and a callback is given based on the farmer’s response. Click to see how they do it.

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 option

-Personalise it


-Have long-winded options

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

-Have accents that are hard to understand the prompts

To conclude, IVR is a perfect example of man and machine working together to create wonderful outcomes. If you are not already using IVR for your business, you should consider it, no matter the size of your operations. As more and more customers move towards the self-serve mentality, IVR no longer remains merely as a choice. To see how IVR can help your business, sign up for a free trial account. Alternatively, you can give us a call at +91-8088-919-888 or write to us: hello@exotel.com.

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