What’s the Difference in an Auto Attendant and IVR?

By Jessica Campas

We’ve all called into a business at some point in time and been greeted by an automated robot attendant. For some people, it works well, and they are satisfied selecting their options. For others, it’s an annoyance, and they want to speak with a live person to accomplish the actual reason for the call. These robot menus with what seems like limitless options are called auto attendants.

Now, picture a smarter auto attendant. One that not only sounds great but actually enables a customer to help themselves and ultimately get them to a live agent faster. That is an IVR, or Interactive Voice Response. The difference in an auto attendant and IVR is that an IVR can be directed by a caller’s voice or by pressing a number to select an option. It can both provide information and collect information from the caller, such as case numbers, addresses, birthdates, credit card numbers for over-the-phone payments, and much more.

The job of creating the IVR usually falls on the IT department, or in some cases the IT person, and they need an IVR to be easy to manage. For example, think about inclement weather days. Snow, sleet, and rain can keep your employees from coming into work, and your customers will need to be notified of such changes. What if the IT guy or gal could change the customer-facing IVR to a “snow day” IVR with the click of a mouse? Or, even better, what if calling the main number and entering in a PIN could automatically switch the messaging that the customers hear when they call? And they can do all of this from the comfort of their home after they have been notified of the school/office/business closing. That is just one of the amazing things an IVR can do to help a business.

Businesses can run much smoother with an easy-to-use, well crafted IVR as the first thing their customers hear. An IVR is meant to help an office, school, or any organization focus on what they do best and not worry about handling incoming calls. Even if you are a fan of a live receptionist answering the phone, you still need to direct your customers to their intended party’s voicemail after hours, or in some cases an on-call technician.

Next Steps

We’ve merely scratched the surface on all of the amazing benefits of an IVR and how they differ from their predecessor, the auto attendant. Check out the UC Tech Chat video below to learn more about the difference in an auto attendant and IVR, as well as how they can help you be more productive and responsive to your customers.

There Are 2 Comments

  • Jerry says:

    That’s nice, but it doesn’t give any clue how to use someone’s voice as a response instead of a key touch. It would be helpful if it directed a person to somewhere that gives some clue or indication how to use someone’s voice as an input for routing a call.

  • Jessica Campas says:

    Our IVR gives the option to have the caller “Say Digits/Letters”, “Say A Number”, or “Say Date/Time.” If you have a Switchvox phone system go to Admin Portal>Tools>IVR Editor>Create Action>Then click the drop-down arrow and select either “Say Digits/Letters”, “Say A Number”, or “Say Date/Time”. When you select each one of these it will give you a helpful description as to what each one means at the bottom. Also, you have Tech Support available if you are a Switchvox customer with an active subscription. If you are an Asterisk customer then the process is possible but it’s more manual. We can put you in contact with an Asterisk Integrator to help achieve that feature if you are needing help.

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About the Author

Jessica Campas

Jessica Campas is a Digium Account Executive and has been with the company since 2014. During that time, she has held positions both in pre-sales and closing. As an Account Executive, she specializes in all things sales by performing Switchvox product demonstrations for both channel partners and end users and by maintaining a positive customer-vendor relationship.

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