Best IVR Systems Compared

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IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response, and it’s a technology used in automated phone systems so that businesses and customer support centers can intelligently route callers to the right agents and other resources via voice prompts.

Most business phone systems include IVR as part of their software—but not all of them. We’ve researched over 30 systems that do, and Nextiva comes out as our top choice due to its conversational IVR, advanced customization features, and reasonable price point.

IVR is important, but when choosing a new business phone provider, you should focus on which provider serves your business needs the best as a whole—so keep that in mind as you explore your options.

Best IVR Systems: Our Top Three

We’ll be taking a detailed look at five IVR systems in total—but if you only have time to get in and get out, we’ve got you covered with the best three right away. 

Nextiva: Best IVR system overall because it’s reasonably priced, easy to set up, and simple to use—even with the most advanced features. It’s also easy to speak with an expert and get a free demo at your leisure.

RingCentral: Most reliable IVR system with 99.999% uptime and excellent troubleshooting features. Get a free custom quote from RingCentral at any time.

Five9: Best visual IVR system with an engaging, mobile app-like experience for customers. You can get a full demo of Five9 for free.

Nextiva: The Best IVR System Overall

Nextiva logo

Nextiva is our favorite overall IVR system because of the way it combines and balances all of the most important IVR features.

Its system is incredibly advanced, with real-time analytics and one of the best conversational IVRs we’ve ever encountered. With conversational IVR, customers can hold regular phone call exchanges with AI personalities. Thus, gone are the days of, “Press 1 for X, Press 2 for Y,” and so on. Now, customers can find answers to their questions much more naturally and comfortably. 

Given all of its capabilities, it may come as a surprise to first-time users that Nextiva is generally painless to implement and very easy to use once set up. This can save you time on both the implementation of integrations and the training of agents, which are usually significant concessions for IVR systems with as many advanced features and customizations.

Finally, Nextiva’s IVR is fully cloud-based, which means all of the hardware is stored off site—so all you need to do is download the software locally (or remotely). This low-overhead model also means that Nextiva can scale as your business scales, since it’s just a matter of adding more users.

Nextiva’s IVR system is available as a key part of two separate products: The basic phone system solution and the dedicated contact center solution. Plans for these products start at $22 and $129 per user per month, respectively.

To get started, you can speak with an expert or download Nextiva for free on your own. Keep in mind that if you have any questions, Nextiva has a massive online support community for users just like you.

You can also read our full Nextiva review to learn why Nextiva is our #1 pick across the board.

RingCentral: Most Reliable IVR System

RingCentral logo

The RingCentral platform boasts a 99.999% uptime rate. In other words, it only goes down and stops working 001% of the time. All things considered, this rate is only marginally better than those from the other best IVR providers on the market, but for enterprise-level call centers with the highest IVR standards, it’s enough to make a noticeable difference.

Beyond reliability, our review of RingCentral also found a lot of ease and simplicity when it came to how agents can create and manage auto-response IVR features. These can provide customers with things like business hours and answers to FAQs whenever agents aren’t available. Of course, since the IVR is always available—and RingCentral’s uptime is so good—your customers will never feel neglected, which can give your business a nice reputation boost.

In the same vein, RingCentral’s IVR comes with a validation function that guides agents through troubleshooting issues in a focused manner. This ensures that any configuration issues you might have with RingCentral’s IVR can be resolved quickly and with minimal downtime.

Altogether, RingCentral’s IVR reliability and feature set make it an excellent choice for large enterprises and call centers looking to stay ahead. Then again, that 99.999% metric is sometimes overkill for certain business types. If you’re looking for a well-balanced, all-around IVR system, Nextiva is usually the better choice.

RingCentral’s IVR starts at $30 per user per month under its phone system solution, and $65 per user per month under its contact center solution.

Book a free demo or read our full RingCentral review to get started.

Five9: Best Visual IVR System

Five9 logo

Five9 provides a solid IVR system with many modern AI integrations, however its standout feature is its unique visual IVR experience for customers.

Instead of navigating through dense menu options or even talking with a conversational IVR, mobile customers can interact with Five9’s IVR system much the way they would use an app—with visual prompts and immediate access to information. This means they’ll be able to take action and find the right agents faster, and probably have more fun doing it.

Similarly, Five9’s Visual Customer Feedback allows businesses to build IVR-based customer questionnaires—which, again, has a visual emphasis that can boost engagement and increase completion rates. Via their mobile devices, customers can fill out forms and complete surveys, giving you insight into your business’s performance in a way that appeals to customers.

Compared to Nextiva, Five9 appears to provide less bang for your buck. Its contact center solution comes with a smaller feature set than Nextiva’s, while also starting at $175 per user per month.

Get in touch with an expert today to learn more about Five9.

LiveAgent: Easiest IVR System to Customize

LiveAgent logo

LiveAgent’s IVR system excels not in the breadth of its overall customization potential, but in the ease with which non-technical users can create a custom IVR.

In particular, the LiveAgent system comes with one of the most intuitive online IVR designers we’ve seen to date. With its online application, you can design IVR menus, record audio snippets, and more—all in the same interface. For small businesses, this can be super appealing, as they won’t need to hire extra developers or start from scratch every time they need to make adjustments to their IVR paths.

Besides the customization tool, LiveAgent comes with a host of other standard IVR features, including callbacks, call prioritization, and routing.

That said, LiveAgent is not quite an all-in-one solution like Nextiva. We recommend it for small businesses and startups who won’t be dealing with the same call volumes and complex customer requests as larger enterprises and call centers with high QA standards, but still have unique IVR needs that could require easy customization.

LiveAgent’s IVR system is available to subscribers of its Large Business and other higher-tiered plans. Pricing starts at $59 per user per month.

Give it a test run today for free.

Genesys: Most Innovative IVR System

Genesys logo

While Genesys’ IVR system isn’t the most well-known, it has a huge variety of innovative features that can be used to drive up customer service efficiency for brands with complex needs.

For example, Genesys’ IVR uses adaptive learning to personalize customer service experiences. As customers use the IVR system again and again, they’ll encounter more personalized sales pitches based on past interactions and intelligent guesses regarding the nature of the customer’s inquiry.

Depending on which contact center solution you choose from Genesys, the IVR can integrate with a huge library of pre-built applications and bot types. This means you won’t have to deal with complicated, custom integrations—though Genesys supports those, too—ultimately saving your business swathes of time and money.

While features like these may be invaluable for tech firms and other businesses with complicated technological needs, Genesys users may be left wanting some of the more foundational IVR functionalities supported by brands like Nextiva.

Basic voice plans start at $75 per user per month, and voice and digital combo plans start at $115 per user per month.

What Matters Most When Reviewing IVR Systems

Keep in mind that the criteria below are what we use to evaluate IVR systems, so it’s up to you to determine what’s important for your business. 

Call Routing and Automations

What it is: Call routing and automations are basically the core of any IVR. They use built-in menus to guide callers to the right department or agent based on specific criteria such as the caller’s keypad input, voice prompts, or even the time of day when the call was placed. 

Additional routing features include callbacks, escalations, pre-recorded messages, and skills-based routing. Advanced IVR systems like Nextiva can even send automated text messages and emails to customers, on top of interacting with them naturally via conversational IVR.

Why it matters: Effective IVR call routing and automations are vital for cutting down caller wait times as well as reducing your business’s overall customer service costs. For instance, your customer support team can use skills-based routing to automatically connect a caller with an agent who is an expert in the caller’s specific issue. 

Likewise, during off-hours, automated messages can also give callers the business’s operating hours or answer FAQs. This helps customers feel much less neglected by support, even when the support isn’t around.

What to look for: Because call routing and automations are foundational parts of IVR, you’ll need to nail them. Look for IVR systems with lots of flexibility in setting up custom rules that cater to your business’s specific needs. 

The system should also support detailed options for different scenarios—like unusually high call volumes and extremely niche customer questions. Lastly, integration with your other business communication platforms is always a plus, so keep an eye out for that.

Analytics and KPI Tracking

What it is: Analytics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are metrics used by businesses to track performance over time. A good IVR system should automatically compile customer data and calculate these figures for you. 

Typical KPIs include metrics like call resolution time, abandonment rate, and customer satisfaction scores.

Why it matters: Businesses implement IVRs because they want to improve customer satisfaction. At the same time, they won’t know if they’ve actually met that goal unless they track the right metrics and KPIs and see improvement over time. 

As an example, a high abandonment rate might indicate that callers are finding your IVR menu too complicated or are waiting too long before an agent gets connected. Using the right KPIs, your business can monitor these things for possible trends and make improvements before it’s too late.

What to look for: Generally speaking, you’ll want an IVR system that can track a wide range of metrics—since you never know where your business will need improvement in the future. At minimum, you should figure out the most important KPIs for your business and make sure your IVR system includes them. 

You’ll also want to prioritize user-friendly analytics dashboards in addition to real-time monitoring capabilities so your KPI figures are always as relevant as possible.

CRM and Help Desk Integrations

What it is: CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It’s typically a software that contains all of your customer data, including previous interactions, purchases, and support tickets.

Meanwhile, virtual help desks are geared towards technical problems, connecting IT agents to customers for help with complicated problems.

Why it matters: Integrating IVR with CRM and help desk software is a vital step toward creating a seamless and efficient customer experience. 

For instance, if a repeat customer calls, your IVR system can immediately route them to the agent who handled their previous queries—while also providing the agent with the customer’s call history and purchase history. This gives your agents better context for each customer they assist, leading to more personalized and expedient service. 

What to look for: Naturally, you’ll need to make sure your IVR system can integrate with your existing CRM and/or specific help desk software. Of course, how easily a given IVR system can do this depends on the individual provider you choose. 

Once you know that everything is compatible, prioritize easy data sharing across applications, as well as real-time data syncing. This will help your agents meet your customers right where they are—not wherever they were two weeks ago.

Other Business Communication Features

What it is: IVR systems work best in conjunction with other modern business communication features. To get the most out of IVR, many businesses need features and capabilities like video calling, screen-sharing, SMS texting, faxing, or even a full-on UCaaS software that combines all communication channels into one interface.

Why it matters: A broader communication system can improve the internal and external communications operations of a business to a point where its customers, employees, and bottom-line are all better off. 

For example, some of the best call center software can harmonize your IVR with SMS texting and other messaging platforms like WhatsApp, giving your customers multiple avenues for reaching out. This increases the likelihood that they’ll bother to contact you in the first place, and assuming your customer service is up to par, it can also increase your customer satisfaction rates. 

On the internal side of business communications, features like document sharing and omnichannel messaging can help your employees collaborate faster and more clearly, resulting in less confusion and quicker problem-solving.

What to look for: Make sure any additional business communication features integrate with your ideal IVR system. Again, the goal here is to create a seamless communication ecosystem that makes both the customer experience and the employee experience better. 

Besides prioritizing features that your specific business needs, look for systems that offer flexibility, scalability, and ease of use. If you’re operating a call center or thinking about setting one up, consider using dedicated call center software and/or modern hardware phone systems.

How to Get Started with an IVR System

We know it can feel overwhelming to migrate to a new system—or even just a new software provider—so here’s a 5-step process for getting the most out of a new IVR system:

  1. Create a shortlist based on your needs. After you’ve taken some time to think through your objectives and what you want to accomplish with your IVR system, it should be easy to narrow down your potential providers to a list of three, four, or five. 
  1. Set up calls and demos. Most IVR software providers will be thrilled to have one of their experts walk you through their system in detail. In particular, Nextiva makes this process easy and painless. A demo is often the best time to ask any questions that come to mind—so don’t waste it.
  1. Try the software for yourself. Whenever possible, make use of free trials so you can apply some of our trusted IVR testing methods. For each software you test, make notes of features that stand out to you—whether good or bad.
  1. Test it with a small team. We highly recommend selecting a handful of your agents and letting them use and customize the intended IVR system. Have them think about the ways each different system will affect their work performance—and take their feedback seriously.
  1. Full rollout. At this point, you should be able to make a choice based on the information you’ve gathered from demos and the feedback gathered from your team. If the pricing is agreeable with your business model, contact the provider and get your new IVR system rolled out company-wide.

If you follow these steps and end up with Nextiva at the top of your list, that’s pretty much to be expected. In fact, you may want to skip the first step by talking with a Nextiva expert or downloading the application for free so you can poke around without further delay.

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