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Interactive Voice Response Best Practices



  • Identify one person as the college/location Interactive Voice Response (IVR) coordinator and make him/her accountable for the success of the location’s program. This will provide continuity as well. IVR coordinator duties are probably not a full-time job but should be a major responsibility of a person in a highly responsible position requiring knowledge of a wide variety of college departments and functions.
  • Track the statistics of how many calls are coming in during what days/times. Use statistics to alter the menus by studying which choices are used and which are not.
  • Compare statistics from month to month and year to year. This will help you identify staffing needs.
  • Provide adequate training for staff and temporary helpers before you put them on the phones. This will reduce frustration levels for employees as well as the students who call in.
  • Create a districtwide work group of IVR directors so they can continuously improve IVR operations.
  • Deploy staffing to support a decentralized call center structure (e.g., establish mini call centers at the colleges and have dedicated staff in each main area to answers calls coming in from either the district call center or the college’s mini call center(s)).
  • Have the location IVR director coordinate the training for service area managers and end users.
  • Establish a collegewide goal for answering incoming calls. For example, “Answer ___ percent of incoming calls within ___ seconds/rings.”
  • Do not allow voice mail messages to say “Call back later.” They should instead say “Leave a message.” Callbacks should be made on the same day as the message is received.
  • Use Automatic Call Distribution when appropriate.


  • Offer a “Press Zero” option at the end of every menu.
  • Make sure that “Press Zero” option is answered by a live person.
  • Keep the information on the messages up to date. (Be sure to update all menus: day menu, night menu and holiday menu.)
  • Keep the holiday menu generic so you don’t have to re-record for every holiday.
  • Use “switches” for temporary messages that override the regular message whenever possible (e.g., inclement weather closures and emergency shutdowns).
  • Refer callers to recorded information whenever possible. (Some questions are asked over and over again. These kinds of questions are good candidates for recorded answers. Make them available to incoming callers and train the live staff to transfer them to these answers as well.)

Approved by the Chancellor's Staff on March 8, 2010