Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Interactive voice response

In telephony, interactive voice response, or IVR, is a computerised system that allows a person, typically a telephone caller, to select an option from a voice menu and otherwise interface with a computer system. Generally the system plays pre-recorded voice prompts to which the person presses a number on a telephone keypad to select the option chosen, or speaks simple answers such as "yes", "no", or numbers in answer to the voice prompts.

The latest systems use natural language speech recognition to interpret the questions that the person wants answered.

IVR systems are found operating voicemail systems and telephone banking services, and are often the first point of contact when calling many larger businesses. These systems are generally used at the front end of call centers to identify what service the caller wants and to extract numeric information such as account numbers as well as provide answers to simple questions such as account balances or allow pre-recorded information to be heard.

IVR systems are often criticised as being unhelpful and difficult to use due to poor design and lack of appreciation of the callers' needs. A properly designed IVR system should connect callers to their desired service promptly and with a minimum of fuss.