What is a Voice Response Unit?

A voice response unit (VRU), more commonly known as an IVR system, is technology often found in call centers that manages the front end of inbound phone calls. Voice response units (VRUs) typically play a recorded greeting for callers and then present them with menu options. Callers may interact with the menu by pressing buttons on their phone's keypad or, if the VRU uses speech recognition, they can speak their responses. Depending on their menu selection, they may be presented with another menu option, sent into a queue to wait for an agent, or they may be able to self-serve.

When designed with both the customer and the call center in mind, voice response units (VRUs) can enhance the customer experience while also improving operational efficiency. Customers value choice – and that includes the option to conveniently self-serve. Voice response units (VRUs) that are integrated with other systems enable self-service by collecting information from the caller, passing it to the relevant system, and then returning information to the caller or confirming the execution of a requested transaction. For example, VRUs can facilitate bill payment or let the customer know their account balance. Not only can this improve customer satisfaction, but the automation also increases the call center's efficiency.

These benefits can also be realized by the intelligent routing that voice response units (VRUs) enable. One of the VRU's jobs is to collect caller information. This could include information like their menu choices, the account number they entered, or the nature of the problem they verbalized. Using this information, calls can then be routed to agents most qualified to handle them. For example, if the account number indicates that the customer has paid for premium service, the call can receive priority routing to a special team of agents. Routing callers to the right agents is better for customers and ensures agents are effectively utilized.

An appropriately deployed voice response unit (VRU) can be an essential tool that benefits customers as well as call centers.

We refer to voice response units as Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, but the concept is the same.

NICE CXone Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is fully-integrated voice self-service that accelerates resolution, improves routing and cuts cost with automation. It leverages speech to verbally gather caller information and determine optimal handling for improved customer experience.

How NICE can help

NICE CXone is the market leading call center software in use by thousands of customers of all sizes around the world to help them consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences. CXone is a cloud native, unified suite of applications designed to help a company holistically run its call (or contact) center operations. CXone includes:

Omnichannel Routing – routing and interaction management that empowers agents to positively and productively interact with customers in digital and voice channels. These solutions include an automatic call distributor (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), interaction channel support and proactive outbound dialer.

Workforce Optimization – unlocks the potential of your team by inspiring employees' self-improvement, amplifying quality management efforts to enhance customer experience and reducing labor waste. These solutions include workforce management (WFM), quality management (QM), customer satisfaction surveys and performance management (PM).

Automation & Artificial Intelligence (AI) – leading-edge, intuitive technology that eliminates mundane tasks and speeds resolutions of customer issues for better business outcomes. It provides self-service, agent-assisted and fully automated alerts and actions.