9 Ways to Improve Your IVR System

Author: Wisam Abou-Diab
how to improve ivr system

IVR systems are meant to direct calls to the correct agent or option, the first time, and optimize large call volumes. They are also effective in reducing customer frustration by reducing transfers and long wait times. Getting an IVR system for your business is one step, but it doesn’t end there. An IVR system has to be as simplified as possible to make it user-friendly for your callers, since a complex or nonsensical IVR system will just create more frustration, defeating the purpose of implementing the solution in the first place. Let’s take a look at a number of different ways to improve your IVR system. 

1. Simplify 

One key task to improve your IVR system is to keep it as simple as possible, and not offer too many options. The more clear and concise, the better. Consider consolidating a few options if you have too many. Another great thing to do is remove any unnecessary words from the pre-recorded message, making it easier to understand and reducing the time it takes the caller to hear all of the options. 

2. Offer Self-Service Options

improve ivr - self service

Sometimes callers don’t want to be connected to an agent if they simply want to hear their account balance, make a payment, hear store hours, etc. Allow your IVR system to handle these simple requests and your customers will love it. When you implement self-service, it’s a win-win situation since your agents will handle fewer calls, making room for more complex calls, and your customers will appreciate the convenience. 

3. Offer a Call Back Option

Nothing is worse than being placed on hold for a long period of time! A sophisticated IVR solution will offer a queue callback option only when volumes are high, on a number that your customer prefers. 

4. Disable the IVR When Departments Are Closed

improve ivr system - department closed

If your contact center is closed, don’t make your customers go through the IVR. Callers will get very frustrated when they spend their time going through an IVR, only to find out the department is closed. 

5. Eliminate Lengthy Introductions 

Often, callers want to jump into the IVR right away to get to where they need. A long and unnecessary introduction prevents them from quickly getting the information they want as quickly as possible and leaves them frustrated. If you are providing important information before the prompts, try to keep it as clear and concise as possible.

6. Allow Callers to Go Back a Step

improve ivr system - return to previous menu

We have all had those moments where we realize that we hit the wrong option because we got distracted while listening to the options. Offering an option to return to the previous menu increases the user-friendliness of your IVR system. Add in a message that they may press a number at any point to return to the previous menu. 

7. Rank Menu Options by Most Popular 

Find out what options are the most popular through analytics, and place those options first in the menu. This will make the process quicker for a large number of your customers.

8. Offer a Short Cut to an Agent

Adding an option such as press 0 at any time to speak with an agent is a good way to cater to those callers that would prefer not to go through the IVR. This will simply add to the user-friendliness of your system. 

9. Provide Estimated Wait Times

When you decide to stay on hold and not get a callback during call spikes, it’s always nice to hear how long you will be waiting for. Maybe you will decide to continue through your daily tasks while you’re on hold knowing it will take 10, 20, or even 30 minutes.


In summary, you will notice that all of these points are thought of from the customer’s point of view, and of course experience. When you think about your personal experiences with an IVR system, you will most likely think of these improvements, and maybe even more. 

Please share any other ideas in the comments section for other readers to see!

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