Interactive Voice Response System (IVR) for Small Businesses – Do’s & Don’ts

Interactive Voice Response System (IVR) for Small Businesses – Do’s & Don’ts


When we talk to customers at Exotel, IVR or Interactive Voice Response System comes across as one of the most desired features in a business phone system. We have all encountered this automated voice wonder when we call our mobile service provider or when we try initiate a transaction with our banks on the phone. It’s the system that tells you to Press 1 to Pay your bills, Press 2 to know your current usage etc and decides the call flow according to the choice you make.

Earlier, only large companies had the infrastructure to set up an IVR to greet its callers. But now, with the advent of products like Exotel that work on a cloud based system, even small businesses can set up professional IVR greetings and route calls smartly without having to spend beyond their means.

Sign up for a FREE Trial with Exotel

IVR makes your business sound like a big professional set up. But is that reason enough to adopt this system? Here are some functional reasons why you may want to look at an IVR for your business.

  • Save time: By programming your IVR right, callers will be connected to the right people. An agent on the Sales team will not be stuck answering Marketing queries.
  • Automate routine tasks: An automated system is sometimes enough to answer questions. For example, if your customer wants to find out the status of his online order, a computer can check your records and give him the right answer. This helps save man hours. By automating tasks that don’t require human intervention, you can scale your operations without having to increase the actual number of people.
  • Gather information: You can make your call operator efficient by giving him all the necessary information before he speaks to the customer. For example, with a smart IVR process, by the time your agent picks up the call, he will already have all the customer details and maybe even the reason why a customer has called based on his IVR interaction.

In spite of its many benefits, IVR is truly a double-edged sword and needs to be used with caution.

Everything we’ve spoken about so far has been from a business’ perspective. But what do users think of IVRs? It is the unsuspecting user that is left in the lurch because of bad call flows. We have heard a lot of users complain about dysfunctional IVRs where none of the options make sense and they have no clue what they’re supposed to do.

We ran a small survey* to see what the general public thought of IVRs.

usefulness of ivr

57% said that IVRs were useful while calling a business.

If IVRs are generally thought of as useful, why is it also such a hated thing? Here are some of the do’s and don’ts as compiled from the responses to our survey.


1. Have a pleasant IVR voice that gives out clear and concise instructions. It’s good to avoid voices with heavy accents or robotic voices as these are hard to understand and do not make for a pleasant user experience.

pleasant ivr

2. Avoid long winded IVR menus. 68% think it should take them less than a minute to find the right option for them.

ivr length

3. 75% say they prefer to be kept informed about the amount of time he has to wait to speak to a representative. Keeping the user waiting without any indication of the length of queue only frustrates them.

what users look for

4. Have a limited number of IVR options. 52% say that they forget the option they wanted to select when the IVR message is too long. Nobody likes to guess their way through a maze.

5. Always give the users the option of speaking to an agent. If self-serve is not working, they should be able to find someone to help them. 84% said that if the option of speaking to an agent was available, they would always pick it.

6. Don’t have your users punch in a bunch of information only to have your representative repeat all the questions again.

7. Personalisation is the key. Automation does not have to make your service impersonal. Link your IVR and your CRM to give your customers a highly personalised experience.

8. IVR can be used not just for incoming calls but for outbound calls as well. Do you want to do a payment reminder or inform a customer the status of his order? You can make an automated IVR call to convey this information. (This service is available on Exotel as well).

This technology exists to empower your business. How would you like to use IVR for your business?

PS: Have you used The Oak Tree – Exotel’s IVR app?

*survey was conduct among 77 people, 18-50 age group

E-book: Guide to set up a simple cloud call center

We discuss factors like cost, business requirements and time to set up a simple call center


  • vikas

    I want to set a ivr for my buss

    March 8, 2014
    • Gayatri Krishnamoorthy

      Hi Vikas, send us an email with your contact information to and we’ll get in touch with you

      March 10, 2014
  • vikas

    I want to set a ivr for my buss

    March 8, 2014

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.



How Technology is Silently Enabling Aspiring Entrepreneurs

"Just call me Angel of the morning, angel." Isn't it surprising how songs just become…

Ankita Barthwal



8 Startup Challenges Every Entrepreneur Should Be Aware Of

Harbouring an idea in your head is one thing. Taking the leap of faith to…




The What, Why, How of Call Alerts: Be Emergency Ready

During business emergencies, two things become important. The first is making sure that all the…

Gayatri Krishnamoorthy

Try Exotel free for 15 days

Get ₹ 1000 worth free call & SMS credits