What if you never had to answer the phones again?

Trick question. Of course, you’ll have to answer your phone at some point. But when you use an IVR—an interactive voice response system—you’ll only have to pick up the phone when someone’s already up for a chat.

IVR software can collect information on callers, screen out unwanted callers, and give your business a professional presence 24 hours a day. With an IVR application in place, your business can gather information while you sleep. Your IVR can field incoming calls from prospective clients while you block out time at work. For all intents and purposes, you’ll only have to answer the phone when you want to.

If that sounds like something that might remake the way you do business, let’s dig further into the IVR.

What is IVR—Interactive Voice Response?

If you’ve ever called a phone system or a call center and interacted with an automated message, you’ve encountered an IVR system.

The role of IVR is to route your call to the right place without the input of an actual human party on the receiver’s end. Ideally, that means your caller will be able to choose from the options easily and navigate straight to the appropriate team member.

If you’ve ever heard something like “to speak with a representative, press 1,” then you’ve dealt with an IVR. But if you’ve never been on the other side of an IVR before, you might not know just how helpful they can be in managing your business and managing call volume.

How IVR Works

IVR systems work with a combination of speech recognition and touch-tone keypad selection to automate call routing. IVR does this by providing prerecorded voice responses based on user input, keypad signal logic, access to relevant data, and sometimes, recording voice input for future use. IVR systems may also use computer telephony integration (CTI) to hand off a call to a live agent who can view the data related to a caller.

IVR systems use dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) signals to interpret keypad input and communicate between phone and computer. This allows IVR software to provide users prerecorded greetings or menu options specified by an organization. Advanced IVR platforms include voice recognition software, leveraging natural language processing (NLP) for a conversational self-service experience.

IVR may also leverage text-to-speech (TTS) technology to communicate complex information, such as news reports, emails, weather, etc.

What Are the Benefits of Using an IVR?

Don’t think that using an IVR will make your business sound like one of those giant corporate conglomerates that keep people on hold as a matter of principle. Instead, an IVR for a small or mid-sized business can work wonders to improve your relationships with customers:

With benefits like these, the obvious answer is to move to an IVR solution and never look back. But not every business uses an IVR. They believe it’s too complicated to set up or will end up being too expensive.

But what if you configure an IVR system using Grasshopper’s voice system infrastructure to have your own version of a contact center?

How to Configure an IVR with Grasshopper

Once you log in to your Grasshopper account, there are plenty of options for setting up an Interactive Voice Response system:

If it sounds complicated, don’t worry—we’re unrolling a new tutorial feature that will hold your hand throughout the process so you can set up your own IVR call flows without having to figure everything out yourself.

That’s it. Using an IVR with your own designed extensions and hours, you can completely customize the way you interact with your customers. This will not only free up your time but make your company more responsive.