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What’s the Difference between Auto Attendant and IVR?

Posted on: May 20, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Remember that song: “One of these things is not like the other? One of these things is just not the same!” We could say this of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Auto Attendant. Although sometimes confused for the same thing, there are important differences between Auto Attendant and IVR.

You have by this point in your life called into many an auto attendant, we can be sure of that. It’s when you call into a business or organization and, instead of talking to a live human, you are greeted by an automated voice which provides you with a full menu of options. The automated attendant — also known as a phone tree or auto receptionist — routes calls to a queue or voicemail box. Although to be fair, it can play hold music while it makes the connection.

How does that differ from the IVR? You might think of it as auto attendant 4.0. For one thing, when you reach a business with an IVR, the automated voice quite often sounds better, more true to life. Additionally, you can typically interact with the IVR using either the numbers on your keypad or your voice. You know you’re working with an IVR when it says “press or say 1.” That “say 1” is your cue that there’s voice recognition software at work.

Now, we recognize that those distinctions don’t seem like such a big deal when you’re calling in. You’d probably rather be talking to a human in the first place, so being able to speak instead of press numbers isn’t that big of a step up. OK, but the real difference between auto attendant and IVR isn’t directly experienced so much by the caller as it is by the recipient of the call.

Auto Attendant vs IVR for the Agent

Think of auto attendant as an automated switchboard operator. This feature does help your customer get more efficiently to the individual or department they want to reach. But they don’t provide additional information. The attendant sorts them to the right place based on their keyed responses.

With IVR, the caller may never need to interact with a human. After all, this solution feature can provide information and collect details from the caller, such as case numbers, addresses, birthdates, credit card numbers for over-the-phone payments, and much more. For example, paying by phone at your utility company by entering the numbers of your checking account or credit card. Since the IVR can easily handle automated tasks, your business can free up human agents for more complicated processes.

Another advantage is that the IVR can be scripted to provide information to the caller based upon their responses or particular circumstances at your business. For instance, the messaging a customer might hear while on hold could be customized to reflect the details gained from their menu sequence. Since they are calling in response to X campaign, they would hear messaging related to that campaign while in queue.

IVR solutions can also feature additional add-ons such as:

  • Data-Driven Routing: deliver prioritized calls to the proper destination based upon the customer’s transaction status or account information
  • Post-Call Survey: provide inbound or outbound call surveys to understand the satisfaction of your customers once their call or business transaction is complete.
  • Appointment Reminder/Notify: deliver an automated outbound call to notify the customer about a change in their transaction status change or confirm an upcoming appointment.

Evolve IP’s IVR is delivered through easily customized pre-built scripts that deliver the exact call flows and features you need. Evolve IP’s IVR service also retains the flexibility to be customized for your exact needs. Find out more today!

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