Business for Dummies

Complete Guide on Choosing & Setting Up an IVR System for Your Business

Written by Kevin
June 15, 2023
16 Mins Read

I have set PBX phone systems for Canadian companies for over 10 years and many business owners have asked me the same questions. What system to use when I want a work-from-home phone with an image of a large professional company? What IVR features do I need when I have 2-3 people in a startup? In this article, I outlined the six most important features that business owners must consider when choosing a phone system and how to set it up. So, let's dive in and discover how a cloud IVR can benefit your business!

What Phone System does a Small Business Need?

A small business with 1 to 5 individuals may not have the resources to invest in a traditional PBX phone system. It is just not worth it! As a business owner myself, I understand your priorities and you need to know that investing in an expensive system does not mean you will get more sales. Basically, your goal is to streamline your small business or startup's communication, enhance customer experience, and create a professional image for your company with a simple system with minimum spending. Not only does a VoIP cloud system has everything you need, it is only 1% of traditional IP-PBX’s price.

Here are the 6 essential IVR features to think about when choosing a phone system for your business.

  1. Single vs Multi-level IVR
  2. Simple ease-of-use UI
  3. Configurable Time Schedule
  4. Text to Speech ( TTS ) with Ai Generator
  5. Switching between Agent and Automated Answering
  6. VoIP Cloud or IP-PBX System

6 IVR Phone Features You Need

Single vs Multi-level IVR

Single-level IVR is a type of IVR system that consists of one menu level where the caller hears a pre-recorded message with a list of options and selects the appropriate one using their phone's keypad. The more levels you have, the more complex the configuration will be. It is recommended that small and medium-sized business owners use a single-level IVR, which will make it easy for your customers to contact you. 

Single-level IVR is used when you have: 

  • A simple call flow and few options for callers to choose from
  • A limited number of products or services
  • A small local customer base

For larger organizations or those with more complex telephony needs, a multi-level IVR system may be more appropriate. Multi-level IVR is a more complex system that has multiple menu levels.

A complex multi-level IVR system offers:

  • Multiple product lines or departments
  • Route calls to the appropriate team or agent
  • International customer base with multiple language options

Can You Use an IVR System Without Technical Support?

You may need to adjust your company's IVR menu at any time due to personnel changes. Therefore, self-service modification becomes crucial. If you don't have an IT technician, a good UI interface will enable you to adjust your company's phone system structure at any time by yourself. 

Can You Configure IVR Yourself?

IVR systems offer features that allow businesses to customize the IVR menu options, call routing, and greetings based on various conditions or time of day. This can include setting up special IVR menus for after-hours or holidays, or even routing calls to different numbers or voicemail boxes.

How Text to Speech ( TTS ) Helps You?

Using TTS technology, businesses can simply enter the text of the IVR prompt into a software interface, select the desired language, voice type, and tone, and the system will generate an audio file that can be used as the IVR prompt. This can save businesses time and money, while also ensuring that their IVR prompts are consistently high-quality and up-to-date.

Is Your IVR Flexible in Switching between Agent and Automated Answering?

Switching between agent answering and automated answering ( AA ) for an IVR system at any time is critical to a modern phone system. IVR systems offer the ability to configure and adjust settings in real-time, including the option to switch between live and AA prompts based on various conditions or preferences. This flexibility allows businesses to adapt to changing circumstances and provide the best possible customer service experience.

Why use VoIP cloud over IP-PBX System?

A traditional PBX system or IP-PBX system is for larger organizations that need more complex telephony needs, such as firewall, LTE as backup link, and additional PSTN lines for redundancy and security. These systems can provide greater control and customization options; however, they also require more upfront investment and ongoing maintenance compared to a cloud-based IVR system.

Price Difference in IP-PBX vs Cloud-based VoIP System

How Much does it to Set Up an IP-PBX?

To set up an IP-PBX, you need to invest in hardware such as modem, multiply switches, and IP phones etc. In general, there are two expenditures for setting a PBX telephone system for organizations, the capital ( CapEx ) and operating costs ( OpEx ). To have an  IP-PBX for around 20 people, hardware will cost $800 to $1500 USD with an installation fee of $1000 to $1500 that includes cabling and configuration. IP phones cost $100 to $200 per person though it would be more beneficial to purchase in bulk if you have over 100 employees. Additionally, you need to pay an operating expense to the VoIP provider for $15 per PSTN/ SIP line each month. The number of lines set the limitations of concurrent calls. In order words, setting up 3 lines allows you to have 3 simultaneous calls, either inbound or outbound. You will need to call in a technician to add additional lines. For such complex system, be prepared to pay a technician for every technical problem.

Here is an example of a network with a classic phone system that consists of a home office and office. You will need to invest in every part of the communication system from scratch.

How Cloud-based VoIP Offers More to Small Businesses? 

On the other hand, a cloud-based VoIP with IVR system typically offers greater scalability, flexibility, and accessibility compared to a traditional PBX or IP-PBX system. I was inspired to build Textr Team in order to help other small business owners to save money and get the most value out of modern technology. To get a cloud-based phone system, all you need to do is install the app and you can use any device, tablet and smartphone, to access your communication system online. With cloud, there is no need for physical hardware or infrastructure, as everything is hosted in the cloud and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. To add an additional concurrent phone line, you just need to access the app and add in a new number.

How Much does a Cloud-based Phone System Cost?

$6.99 USD monthly. The cost for each user and a phone number is only $14.99 USD for the United Kingdom, $6.99 USD monthly for Canada and the United States. Text Team offers a pay-as-you-go pricing model, which can be more cost-effective for small and medium-sized businesses. You are free to choose how much you want to top-up and there is no annual expiration; the minimum you can top-up is $2 USD. The cost to make a call in North America is $0.009 USD call per minute and $0.008 USD per message ( free within the country ). Textr Team offers a 7-day trial that includes 1500 minutes and 1500 free messages.

A clean and simple cloud-based phone system that you can set up in less 10 minutes.

How to Set Up IVR For Your Business?

Our tech support in Textr Team has helped thousands of small businesses, and I would like to leverage our experiences to guide you in setting up an IVR system for your business.

Here is the step-by-step guide on setting up a professional and customer-friendly IVR system that helps callers navigate through your business directory effectively with Textr Team.

  1. Define Your Departments and Needs
  2. First Greetings Message
  3. Set Your Routing Options
  4. Manage Your Call Flows
  5. If No IVR Options Are Selected
  6. Test The IVR Pathways

This comprehensive guide teaches you every detail on setting up your IVR system. If you want a simplified and shorter phone system tutorial, you can head to our help center.

Define Your Departments and Needs

Planning out routing pathways for an IVR phone system involves careful consideration of your customers' needs and your business objectives. Start by identifying the main categories or departments that callers typically seek assistance from, such as customer support, sales, billing, or technical support. Always ask your customer service for suggestions when planning out your IVR options. Consider the most common inquiries or requests and prioritize those options accordingly.

Create First Greetings Message

Begin by warmly welcoming callers and identifying your company. Express appreciation for their call and emphasize the importance of their call to your business. Next, inform callers about the purpose of the IVR system and the available options. Provide clear instructions on how to navigate through the menu and guide them to the appropriate options based on their needs. Assign an unique number to every directory and keep the messages short!

Consider offering alternative contact methods, such as email or website support, if applicable. Include any important information such as operating hours or upcoming holidays. Lastly, conclude the message by expressing gratitude for their patience and reiterating that their call is important. Assure them that an agent will be available to assist them shortly.

Once you have a script for your system, you may record your own message or hire a professional voice actor, which is around $40 on Fiverr or freelancing platform. For your convenience, you can utilize the built-in AI generator feature, free Text to Speech (TTS), to convert text into natural-sounding speech. There are over 120 languages you can choose from with both gender options.

Set Your Routing Options

Once you know how many options you need to create, organize them in priority. Pick a key and pick an unique call destination. For each line you have 5 actionable options to choose from to respond to this situation:

  • Rings Users ( Ring Group )
  • Forward Call to Outside Number
  • Forward to Voicemail
  • Play Custom Message
  • Transfer to Call Flow

With Rings Users option, you can route the caller to multiple team members or you may call up everyone in the group. 

Manage Your Call Flows

Call flow is a new feature Textr Team just implemented. While Team is a single level IVR system, there are many customers requesting a light weight multi-level system. We added in Call Flows to enable users to add in a hierarchic options or levels to Textr team. 

Under IVR Phone Menu Options, select Transfer to Call Flow and you will be directed to the Call Flow tab. Similar to previous IVR options, you can create your own recordings and Text to Speech features. The difference is that Call Flow allows users to create multiple Call Flows and additional layers of options under the ones you set up for the IVR menu. For example, you can first filter your callers through languages and departments on IVR Phone Menu Options and then use Call Flows to separate attendants. 

If No IVR Options Are Selected

There are 6 available actions to take if no one is available to take the call: 

  • Rings Users 
  • Repeat First Greeting
  • Hang Up
  • Forward to Voicemail
  • Forward Call to Outside Number
  • Play Custom Message

You need to set up Forward to Voicemail when no agent is available to pick up the phone. You may upload an audio file or generate your own Text-to-speech message under the Voicemail tab. Remember to click “Save” once you're finished with each part of the phone menu settings. Also, as a team owner you can set up different IVR phone menus for each of your phone numbers. 

If you have the IVR feature disabled, all IVR options will be grayed out and a new option, When Call Is Not Answered, will be available at the bottom. You will have 3 options to choose from:

  • Forward to Voicemail
  • Hang Up
  • Forward Call to Outside Number

If you have an international or ecommerce business that needs to deal with overseas logistics or purchasing, you may want to forward your call to an outside number during your trip. Remember to put in the correct country code. 

Test Your IVR System

Before putting the IVR system in production, thoroughly test it to ensure all menu options and call routing rules work as intended. Make any necessary adjustments to improve the system's performance and user experience.

Once your IVR system is set up and functioning correctly, communicate the new phone system to your customers and stakeholders. Update your website, business cards, and other communication channels with the phone number and instructions on using the IVR menu.

Final Verdict - Cloud-based VoIP System is the Best Option

Hope you have a better understanding of IVR systems and know which system to use for your business by now. It is a no-brainer to go for a cloud-based system since a traditional PBX system is just not worth it anymore, so the real question is what cloud-based provider you should use and what features they offer for their price range. By following the steps I listed, you can effectively utilize an IVR phone system with the mentioned features for your small business or startup, providing a professional and efficient phone experience for your callers. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact us on our contact page or through social media.

About the Writer

Written by Kevin

As a business owner with over 10 years of hands-on experience in setting up IPX systems for Canadian small businesses, Kevin has witnessed the evolution of the telecom communication space and keeps pace with the latest advancements and trends.

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