How Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Works

By: Dave Roos

Advantages of Using IVR Systems

­IVR systems can be used to answer simple questions so employees can focus on more difficult problems.
­IVR systems can be used to answer simple questions so employees can focus on more difficult problems.
© Lara Jo Regan/Getty Images

The biggest advantage of IVR for small and large organizations is to save time and money. Answering phone calls takes a lot of time, and not every phone call deserves the attention of a trained employee. IVR systems can take care of most of the frequently asked questions that an organization receives (office hours, directions, phone directory, common tech support questions, et cetera) and allow customer service reps, salesmen and tech support specialists to concentrate on the harder stuff.

If a large company is able to shave even a second off the average length of each phone call with a live operator, it can save them hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars a year [source: Human Factors International].


IVR systems have the advantage of making callers and customers feel like they're being attended to, even if it's just by a machine. If you have a simple question, it's better to get a quick answer from a computerized operator than to wait ten minutes on hold before talking to a human being.

Another advantage is that IVR systems don't sleep. They don't take lunch breaks. They don't go on vacations to the Bahamas. An IVR system can be available 24 hours a day to field questions and help customers with simple tasks.

An IVR system can make a small company look bigger. Let's say you work from home as a consultant. By using a hosted IVR service to answer your phones, you already appear like a larger organization. You can get tricky by adding several menu options for different departments, all leading to separate voice mail boxes. Some IVR hosting plans even set you up with an 800 number to look more official.

Subscription IVR hosting plans make it easier for businesses and organizations to use these automated phone services. This is a big advantage of days past, when only large companies with big telecommunications and computing budgets could afford the hardware, software and staff to run in-house IVR systems.

Now check out the next page to learn about the disadvantages of IVR systems.