How to Make your Call Center More Effective with Blended IVR Systems

Inbound & Outbound IVR: How to Use Blended IVR to Boost Call Center Efficiency

What would you do if as a customer you were made to wait for more than 10 seconds on a call that you dialed in? According to our study, on an average, 34% of callers in 2022 woulddisconnect the call. For the business they dialed, this could mean anything from losing a sale to losing customer loyalty.

How to Make your Call Center More Effective with Blended IVR Systems

Today, for any modern business, a lot is pegged on how well the company treats its customer, particularly when it comes to delivering post-sales satisfaction. People often underestimate the role simple technologies can play in improving this experience. IVR, a technology with a projected market size of 7.2 billion USD1-- is one such underutilized technology.

While contact center and CX managers focus a lot on inbound IVR solutions, they often underestimate how the same IVR could be used via outbound technologies to offer fallbacks, proactive customer service, upsells, cross-sells, and better customer experience.

In this blog, we take slightly different approach. After quickly running you through the differences between inbound and outbound IVR, we show you ways to blend these technologies to scale up your operations and cost-effectively meet your growing contact center demands.

What is an IVR?

An IVR is an automated technology that is used to provide a relatable answer to callers using dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) capability—or natural language abilities .It engages a caller through a series of recorded text messages or voice automation.

Today, in the AI-era, this automation can replace human agents through a sophisticated integration of speech analytics, speech-to-text translation, and predictive intelligence.

Why do you need an IVR for your contact center operations?

Contact centers are overwhelmed with a large number of inbound and outbound calls every day. To scale a call center business to handle more calls, it is vital to be fully aware of the technologies and capabilities available for different products and services. Businesses that treat their customers like kings and attend to their calls immediately are more likely to retain them in the long run. However, most businesses are struggling to meet the needs and wants of the customers who prefer speaking to a service rep.

The reason? High call volumes and poor staffing result in call drops, abandonment, and finally, poor customer satisfaction.

Therefore, most contact centers are turning to newer technologies to relieve the pressure off their human staff and automate a part or whole of their client-centric communications with a mix of cloud computing, artificial intelligence, internet communications, and business telephony.

The integration of IVR into call center operations is one simple way to deliver the highest levels of customer experience and customer satisfaction. Businesses can develop deeper interactions with their callers, reduce call waiting, manage call abandonment, and respond in time to missed calls using a blended approach of inbound and outbound IVRs.

What is an inbound IVR?

Inbound IVR handles the calls made by customers to the registered call center numbers. For a call center, it is an incoming call specifically made by a customer for sales insights, FAQs, inquiries, feedback, or complaints.

Let's consider a call center receives 2 million calls every month. The caller has to interact with an IVR menu which leads them to a human agent. To save cost and time, agencies and contact centers opt for self-service IVR that deflects the call to a pre-recorded message for frequently-asked queries and feedback. A bot-based IVR software provides a systematically designed, logical menu-based route to the customer.

The self-service dial-in menu option routes the call to the best possible customer service human agent or voice assistant. This routing workflow is based on the level of automation and programmable commands used to train the inbound IVR system.

What is an outbound IVR?

Outbound IVR is a combination of IVR technology plus automated dialers that can be used to reach customers using fully or partially automated calls.

Similar to an inbound IVR, this technology integrates with your CRM data to automatically alert or notify the customer on various actions, depending on the their journey in the sales cycle. This type of IVR technology is used to inform customers and prospects about upcoming product launches, bill payment dates, scheduled appointments and to run CSAT surveys.

Comparison between inbound and outbound IVR: When and why do businesses use these

Both Inbound and Outbound IVR systems are built to serve specific purposes for contact centers.

Here are a few key differences that you should be aware of.

1) Functional Capabilities

While inbound IVRs are designed to answer inbound calls from customers, outbound IVRs are programmed to make calls originating at the business end. Inbound IVRs are mostly run on ticketing systems and used to ease staffing challenges, outbound IVRs are driven by CRM.

2) Customer Experience and Satisfaction

Are you looking to proactively engage with your customers or are you looking to solve your customer's problems? Both outbound and inbound IVR manage customer experience to a great extent.

Since an inbound IVR is the first touchpoint for customers who dial into your business, in most companies, it is this IVR system that is most often associated with customer satisfaction.

However, we will explore later on in this article, how outbound IVR, though used less often, can also play role in improving customer experience.

4) Usability

Client-centric businesses can benefit from using inbound as well as outbound IVR. However, typically it is operations, customer service departments, and inbound sales teams that are responsible for the success of their inbound IVR systems. On the other hand, departments such as marketing and sales are likely to benefit from using outbound IVR. These days, even recruiters from HR teams use outbound IVRs to reach potential candidates for different roles within the organization.

When we look at the above differences, we see that inbound and outbound IVRs are generally used by completely different processes within the contact center. However, there are some cases when you can repurpose an inbound IVR to serve an outbound IVR call and vice versa.

Repurposing your IVRs: Two scenarios where you can blend inbound and outbound IVR

Scenario 1: Reengage customers by repurposing inbound IVR to outbound

It is not possible to provide a "live agent" to every caller, all the time. If a customer called you but agents were unavailable to respond to the caller, an inbound IVR can relay a voice message stating that "Our agents will get back to you shortly," and then go on idle or hang up politely, allowing an outbound IVR to call these customers back.

If a business offers a self-service menu via inbound IVR then not only can they use their outbound IVR to automate a callback, they can also repurpose their inbound IVR for these callbacks.

Example: If you are running a self-service IVR on inbound and some customers, in a hurry, chose '9' to talk to an agent. They don’t go through the self-service. Due to unavailability of agents, customers get fed up & disconnect the call. To tackle this issue, you can put a call-back option here, that is, you automate an outbound call after & then you can play the same self-service IVR as an outbound IVR instead.

Scenario 2: Repurposing Outbound IVR to Inbound for better CX

Many businesses find that pick-up rates or connection rates for outbound calls are often low. The outbound calls may have caught the customer unaware. Moreover, the customer may have already completed the action (like paying bills) before the call was made. In many cases, they may call the company back later.

This is when you can use an inbound IVR to repurpose your outbound calls' outreach and intent.

Example: Let’s talk about a payment reminder bot. You ran an outbound campaign where you IVR offered customers some options.

Press 1 If you have already paid

Press 2 If you haven't paid, but will pay later

Press 4 To cancel the service or speak to an agent..

Very few customers may answer this call. In fact, only 30-50% of people answer the call but these kind of outbound calls. However, many may call back later. The problem is that at this time, the contact center will connect them to an inbound process. A lot of time will be wasted in understanding the query and making call transfers. Instead, by applying a few simple call routing rules, a business can use the same outbound IVR to respond to these inbound queries. This is one simple example of repurposing an outbound IVR for an inbound IVR use case.

In both these cases, repurposing the IVR leads to better customer experience and higher customer satisfaction outcomes. It is important for contact centers today to look a holistic CX strategy rather than narrowly specializing in inbound and outbound.

Build Customer-Friendly IVR Strategies

By using an intelligent IVR system, you can completely transform your contact center. You can achieve the same results by using a simple IVR system more intelligently as well.

As we see in this article, though Inbound IVR and Outbound IVR are built differently to serve distinct purposes, you can design an intuitive IVR phone experience by repurposing your IVR designs. This can help in building a consistent user experience using an affordable, easy-to-integrate, quick-to-set-up call center solution.


1) Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems - Global Market Trajectory & Analytics -

2) What is interactive voice response? by IBM -,information%20without%20a%20live%20agent.

3) What's a Call Abandonment Rate? -,average%20abandonment%20rate%20of%205.91%25.