The many benefits of interactive voice response (IVR)

A phone that keeps ringing. An employee whose only job is to route the calls. Customers who need to repeat the reason for their call to several persons. On top of that: the waiting times. Does that sound familiar? There is a simple solution to this problem that saves both you and your customers time: IVR.


This guide is for those of you curious to learn more about interactive voice response (IVR) or if you are just about to install the system. Besides containing all the information you need to know about IVR and its benefits, you receive instructions on how to set up the system! The idea is for you to save this guide and pick it up when you install your IVR.


We have developed this guide for everyone curious about an interactive voice response system (IVR). IVR is becoming more and more popular, and often, it is also the first contact a person and potential customer has with your company. In other words, an IVR that gives the customer choices and guides them further is crucial to make a strong first impression.

This is IVR

What exactly is an interactive voicemail, and what does it look like today? Here, we answer that, inform you why you should install an IVR and its benefits.

The definition

IVR stands for interactive voice response. In short, IVR is a telephony technology allowing the caller to quickly navigate to the right person via their telephone keypad and a pre-programmed telephone system. Using the keypad on your phone is why it is called interactive because the customer interacts with the system, which decides where the caller will be forwarded.

Why IVR?

Many companies think that their customers do not appreciate an automatic voice response, but it is usually the opposite. Interactive voice response is a professional way of showing that you take your customers seriously and want their best – something that will strengthen your brand. Voice response is not set up in the same way for all companies, but It should be personal and unique to your business and customers!

People are used to getting help from companies on their terms, exactly when they want it, whether by phone, social media, or email. It is, thus, necessary to offer the right solution on their terms. IVR works as part of an engaging omnichannel experience, where the caller is picked up the second after dialling your number.

With IVR, the customer knows that they will end up talking to the right person. They will avoid the frustration of first speaking to a switchboard, explaining their case, and then doing it again when connected.

The key is not to make it too complicated, but keep the keypad options to a maximum of 2-3 steps – no more! The customer should only have to make their choices a couple of times and not spend a whole minute tapping on their phone – then there is a risk they hang up.

The benefits of IVR

It is not only your customers who will enjoy having an interactive voicemail. It also comes with several benefits for you. Your switchboard employees save an enormous amount of time by not having to forward calls. You will also be able to receive more calls at the same time. IVR streamlines work and reduces your costs. Customer satisfaction will also be higher as they do not have to wait to arrive when they call. Plus, a voice answer guarantees that they will end up with the right person on the first try.

Setting up your interactive voice response system

Once you have decided that IVR is something your business needs, you need to set up the system. Here are instructions on how to set up Telavox IVR.

You can set up your IVR the way you like, although we recommend that you limit the keypad option to a few steps and keep it as explicit as possible. Remember that your voice response is a golden opportunity to be personal and tailor the messages based on your customers’ needs.


Technical instructions

First, those who get IVR via Telavox receive training for everyone at the company who will act as administrators. After that, the setup of your IVR only takes a couple of minutes, done in the following steps:

  • The IVR system is created in the admin portal in Telavox.
  • Set up the choices you want the caller to get. This is a kind of shell that you can move around until you are happy with the various options you want to offer. We recommend two to three selections before the final destination. That is to avoid the risk of the customer becoming impatient and hanging up.
  • Record or upload the audio files placed in each shell.
  • Test your interactive voice response system and publish!

The recording

When recording the welcome message and the different keypad options, there are three ways to do it in the portal. There is no text-to-speech in the system that acts as voice response, but you record it yourself at the company. That is also something that raises the level of personalisation in the recording.

  1. You have ready-made recordings that you can easily upload to the system. You record your messages directly via the system.
  2. You record your messages directly via the system.
    Then, a telephone number will call you up. When you answer, you will first receive instructions on how to proceed, and then the recording will begin. When finished, you can listen to the recording in the system in just a few seconds.
  3. If you have a friend or acquaintance outside the company with a great voice, you can ask them to take care of the audio recording. Then, the person gets a phone number and a few codes and can thus call the number, enter the code and record the voicemail.

TIP! If you don’t have someone at the company available to record these voice responses, we collaborate with studios that can help you out.

Welcome message

Many people get eager and have a lot to say in a welcome message, but you should be careful here and think a little extra about how you set it up. The most important thing is that your opening phrase is not too long. The person calling must understand that they are about to make choices. You do not want them to think that they have come to a voice answer because you are closed. Here are two good examples:

“Hello, and welcome to Telavox! You will soon need to make a few choices, but before that, we want to take the opportunity to wish you a nice day and let you know about our changed opening hours in the department…”

“Welcome to Peter’s barbershop! Soon you will receive a few choices, but before that, I want to inform you that we have moved to a new address, and you can now find us on…”

Waiting times

A good tip is to always offer a different way out for the person calling. It’s for those who do not feel they got a choice suitable for their call. There is a time-out function in Telavox’s IVR system where the caller gets forwarded to a switchboard or support after X seconds. Here are two things to keep in mind:

  1. Tell the caller to please hold and that they will get connected to a person to talk to as soon as possible.
  2. The seconds that the person has to wait to be forwarded feel longer than they are! We recommend five seconds. That may sound short, but often five seconds of waiting time feel more than double when you want help immediately

Try it out

For those of you who are very familiar with the business, some keypad options will seem obvious. But are they understood by someone who does not know your company well? Ask an outsider to listen to your keypad options to make sure it is clear and leading correctly.

Just as everything else develops, make sure to test your IVR over time. Changes may be needed if you have opened a new office, moved your business, or added a department. An IVR is, thus, not something you set up once and then leave. You need to review it continuously.

Suggestions on smart keypad options

Once you have the foundation set up, you can personalise your keypad options and make them even more efficient for your customers. Here are some examples:

  • The customer gets a choice based on opening hours

In Telavox’s IVR system setting, you can give the caller different keypad options depending on the time of day. For example, you can choose not to assign a keypad option for the finance department during off-hours. Let’s say the finance department opens at 10 AM. If a person calls at 8 AM, the caller does not have to be disappointed when they have chosen finances as a first selection, just to be connected further and not get an answer.

Voice answering can also be active around the clock, so all questions where answers can be automated are handled by the system. And even if you only greet the customer again outside opening hours, the customer feels that they have been treated well.

  • Set up your calls based on area code

You can also give the customer a choice depending on the area code, something that is perfect if you have offices or shops in different cities around the country. For example, if a person calls with the area code 08, they are sent to Stockholm’s keypad options. Those with area code 031 will go straight to Gothenburg’s alternatives.

  • Additional function: Identify the customer to prepare for the call

A smart way to identify a customer that calls is to ask them to enter their social security number. That allows you to see their history even before you receive the call. In this way, the customer does not have to explain the reason for their call, and you can see if the person has had contact with you before regarding similar problems. With these insights, you can then start the conversation by showing understanding, avoiding frustration. This feature is not included in the standard IVR solution but can be added.

Take your IVR one step further

Many who install an interactive voice response do so with the ambition of having more efficient call handling and directing their customers to different stores or departments. That is the way to go! But it does not have to stop there. You can add seasonal messages and other choices, such as:

  • Do you want to hear more about our recently launched product?
  • Do you want to book an appointment with our expert?
  • Would you like to take part in a customer survey?

There are many different ways to be creative regarding setting up and managing your IVR. Remember that no two voice responses are alike. Adapt your IVR to be suitable for your company and the customers you have. We are more than happy to help you through your IVR journey! Contact our sales team.

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