6 Best IVR Systems for Small Business in 2023
This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
The best interactive voice response (IVR) system eliminates the need for a live agent by accepting voice commands to route incoming calls. It also incorporates features like customer relationship management (CRM) integrations and analytics, as well as utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to recognize phrases and keywords in callers’ responses. We analyzed dozens of providers to identify the six best IVR systems that improve call routing efficiency.
Based on our evaluation, here are the best IVR systems for small businesses:
- Twilio: Best overall for businesses with dedicated programmers wanting to deploy a custom IVR solution
- Nextiva: Great for distributed teams needing an all-in-one platform for team collaboration and customer engagement
- RingCentral: Ideal for businesses with the need to potentially set up hundreds of IVR menus
- Genesys Cloud: Good option for tech-savvy companies needing voice recognition capabilities to automate conversations
- 8×8: Suitable for teams wanting to combine voice, video, team chat, and contact center features in one platform
- CloudTalk: Top choice for businesses needing a contact center platform for outbound campaigns
Best IVR Systems at a Glance
Monthly Starting Price
IVR Available at Base Plan
$1 per active user hour
4.22 out of 5
4.09 out of 5
$30 per user, monthly
4.04 out of 5
3.98 out of 5
3.77 out of 5
3.72 out of 5
Take the quiz to find out which IVR system suits your business needs.
Which IVR system is right for you?
Twilio: Best Overall IVR System
What We Like
- Customizable user interface
- Pay-as-you-go pricing structure is small business-friendly
- Conversational AI and chatbots are built into Twilio’s systems
- Requires a strong dev team to implement features
- Priciest monthly plan per user on our list
- Lacks collaboration features
- Active User Hour: $1 per active user hour
- Named User: $150 per named user, per month
- Free trial: 5,000 free active user hours
All plans include drag-and-drop reporting, attributes-based routing, visual workflow tools, and performance tracking.
Twilio is our overall best IVR phone system because it lets you set up a phone menu that incorporates all self-service options that work best for your business. Its voice recognition capabilities interpret conversations and determine the caller’s intent. However, since Twilio is an API-driven platform, it works best for businesses with a dedicated dev team capable of building communication capabilities into existing applications.
Traditional IVRs are difficult to customize, confining users to a phone tree with limited choices. With Twilio, it lets you create a custom phone tree that matches the movements of your customers’ preferences. Twilio provides two options to add an IVR to your call center platform: the visual IVR builder and customizable APIs. The visual IVR builder uses drag-and-drop tools, while APIs rely on web programming languages.
Twilio demands strong technical skills to implement its functionalities. In this case, it’s not suitable for users with no programming experience. If you’re looking for a Twilio alternative that doesn’t require the use of codes, choose RingCentral. It is a full-featured business phone system with rich call management capabilities and third-party integrations.
- Teams View: Displays the status and activity of up 200 agents in real time. Listen to live calls, monitor active conversations, and view individual task information.
- Twilio Studio: A visual drag-and-drop editor for building applications with little to no code. It contains widgets that let you respond to incoming calls by performing tasks, such as capturing information, sending a message, or routing the user to another flow.
- Key performance indicator (KPI) dashboards: Track how your KPIs change over time and compare them to previous periods. It also lets you set alerts and notifications when a certain key performance indicator (KPI) reaches its threshold.
Discover how Twilio helps businesses build their own communications infrastructure in our comprehensive Twilio review.
Nextiva: Best for Team Collaboration & Customer Engagement
What We Like
- Work hub app combines team and customer conversations
- IVR with conversational AI
- VIP Router prioritizes preferred customers
- Limited third-party integrations
- Mobile SMS/MMS is not available on the base plan
- CRM integrations locked at upper-tier plans
Nextiva Monthly Pricing (per User)*
- Essential: $30.95 for unlimited domestic calling, 1,500 toll-free minutes, one local or toll-free number, auto-attendant, unlimited internet fax, call history, call log reports, voicemail transcription, team presence, shared line appearance, hold music, call group, 250-participant video meetings for 45 minutes, calendar integrations, and team chat
- Professional: $35.95 for 3,000 toll-free minutes, multilevel auto-attendant, text messaging, one professionally recorded greeting, 40 audio participants, and CRM integrations
- Enterprise: $45.95 for 12,500 toll-free minutes, three professionally recorded greetings, call recording, and unlimited audio participants
*Pricing is based on one to four users. Discounts are available for annual billing and volume purchases.
Nextiva is a cloud-based, voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) service that focuses on team collaboration and customer engagement. Its work hub app puts all communication channels into one place alongside team collaboration tools like task management. This allows users to manage all conversations with customers and their teams within a single interface without switching between tabs or applications.
Nextiva offers an advanced IVR service that integrates with speech recognition features, such as voice commands, voice biometrics, and text-to-speech. These technologies help improve call routing efficiency, enhance customer experience, and streamline processes. It also lets you add virtual agents to autonomously handle routine and repetitive phone transactions.
However, Nextiva’s artificial intelligence (AI) solutions are limited to conversational AI and workflow automation. Plus, you have to request custom pricing or subscribe to its contact center solution to access these features. Businesses wanting to take advantage of AI to improve workflows should consider Genesys Cloud. Automation features include chatbots, predictive routing, and predictive engagement.
- Anonymous call rejection: Prevent callers from reaching your business if their caller ID is blocked. It also lets you reject calls from parties who have explicitly restricted their identities.
- Conversational AI: Enable callers to state the purpose of their call instead of sitting through a long menu of options. Nextiva uses machine learning to understand the different ways your callers make requests.
- Threaded conversations: A work hub feature that provides a single timeline view of your previous interactions regardless of the communication channel you’re using.
Find out what makes Nextiva one of the leading business phone systems in the market in our Nextiva review.
RingCentral: Best for Its Extensive IVR Menu Options
What We Like
- Easy-to-use visual IVR editor
- Up to 250 IVR menus per account, including submenus
- Excellent voice recognition features
- No outbound IVR features
- Entry-level plan lacks call management and phone administration tools
RingCentral Monthly Pricing (per User)*
- Core: $30 for message and phone functionality for 20 users
- Advanced: $35 for an unlimited number of users, unlimited internet fax, audio conferencing, third-party integrations, and video conferencing for up to 24 hours and 100 participants
- Ultra: $45 for automatic call recording, real-time analytics, customer relationship management (CRM) integration, devices status reports, and video meetings with up to 200 participants
- Free trial: 14 days
*Annual billing option is available.
RingCentral has a multilevel IVR that lets you create up to 250 IVR menus for each account, including submenus. This presents the opportunity to craft a multilevel experience for callers that provides options for many voice and numerical inputs. The visual IVR editor offers multiple options for setting up IVR prompts, including text-to-speech, self-record, and file import with professional recordings.
Compared to other providers in the list, RingCentral is one of the most affordable because users don’t have to upgrade or purchase a contact center solution to access its IVR system. At a monthly price of $37.99 per user, the RingCentral MVP Standard package includes a multilevel IVR as well as robust call management tools and third-party app integrations.
While RingCentral is regularly praised for its comprehensive features, most of them are locked behind in its advanced package tiers. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly business phone system that offers basic VoIP features and unified communications capabilities, check out 8×8. Its entry-level plan includes a basic communications package, such as an auto-attendant, video meetings, team messaging, and audio conferencing.
- Directory listing: Boosts your company’s visibility by publishing your business information in local and national directories. Your company name will appear as a local listing when people within your area search under your business category.
- Global MVP: RingCentral offers global telephony services to help businesses expand internationally. It includes local and toll-free numbers in over 100 countries, budget-friendly international calling plans, and localized voice prompts.
- Call forwarding: Route incoming calls to any or all of your devices, regardless of the location or department. Use custom answering rules to direct calls based on specific criteria, such as caller ID, time of day, or day of the week.
Learn more about RingCentral as a unified communications solution in our in-depth RingCentral review.
Genesys Cloud: Best for Automation & Voice Recognition Capabilities
What We Like
- Drag-and-drop flow builder
- Uses AI voicebots to enhance IVR
- Visual IVR offers touch-screen navigation to complement voice interactions
- Advanced capabilities doesn’t suit businesses with basic IVR needs
- Base plan lacks omnichannel capabilities
- Local calling, toll-free services, and number porting are offered as add-on
Genesys Cloud Monthly Pricing (per User)
- Genesys Cloud CX 1: $75 for speech-enabled IVR, voicebots, voicemail, inbound voice routing, callback, voice outbound campaigns, inbound/outbound blending, unified communications, interaction recording, historical reporting, performance dashboards, and real-time and historical views
- Genesys Cloud CX 2: $110 for chatbots, unlimited chat and email routing, SMS, messaging apps, web messaging, digital outbound campaigns, and screen recording
- Genesys Cloud CX 3: $150 for co-browse, screen sharing, workforce management, employee performance and engagement, speech and text analytics
- Genesys DX: Contact sales for a custom plan
- Free trial: 30 days
Genesys Cloud is an IVR service provider that uses AI-powered virtual assistants to interact with customers. Voice bots are equipped with natural language understanding (NLU) to understand customers and their preferences. It also integrates with recognition engines like Nuance and Google Contact Center AI to understand complete phrases and enhance accuracy.
For a more personalized self-service experience, Genesys Cloud provides a visual IVR, which is an on-demand app that complements voice interactions. For example, when customers call your contact center and choose the self-service option, they will receive an SMS link to engage with the on-demand app. Using personalized menus, the visual IVR will determine the caller’s purpose and displays those services directly on their screen.
To enable team collaboration, users must purchase the unified communications add-on, which costs $10 per user. However, this would incur additional costs on top of your contact center subscription. 8×8 is a better alternative in this regard as it combines unified communication capabilities and contact center tools in one platform.
Genesys Cloud Features
- Digital bot flows: Create bots using a natural language understanding (NLU) engine to process and interpret the information provided by the customer. Then, integrate it into your call, chat, and message flows.
- Architect: A drag-and-drop web-based design tool that builds and configures call flows. It uses menus or logic to create menu choices for the caller, answer calls automatically, and route calls based on the caller’s selection.
- Predictive engagement: An AI-powered customer engagement tool that analyzes the behaviors of website visitors, predicts what visitors are trying to achieve, and personalizes engagement to help them achieve their desired outcomes.
Read our Genesys Cloud review to learn more about its contact center features and AI-powered capabilities.
8×8: Best Unified Platform for Contact Center & Business Communications
What We Like
- Allows a mix and match of plans
- Unlimited calls to 48 countries
- Robust security features and compliance policies
- Requires 8x8 Contact Center license to access basic IVR
- Intelligent IVR requires an add-on purchase
- Auto-dialer is only available on the highest-level contact center plan
8x8 Monthly Pricing (per User)*
- Express: $15 for five users, unlimited domestic calling, auto-attendant, music on hold, voicemail, team chat, and 100 audio/video participants
- X2: $28 for unlimited users, unlimited calls to 14 countries, hotdesking, multilevel auto-attendant, call handling, call queues, presence detection, voicemail transcription, 500 video participants, call activity analytics, speech analytics, cloud storage for 30 days, and unlimited internet fax
- X4: $57 for unlimited calls to 48 countries, supervisor analytics, and cloud storage for 130 days
- X6: $85 for agent workspace, omnichannel routing, skills-based routing, post-call survey
- X7: $110 for co-browsing and social media channels
- X8: $140 for auto-dialer and quality management
- Free trial: 30 days (Express plan only)
*Only X2 and X4 plans allow annual prepayments.
8×8 offers unified communication features and is scalable to a full-featured contact center. The X Series plans are divided into five subscription packages that cater to different business communication needs. For example, the X6 plan combines telephony capabilities, team collaboration tools, and contact center-centric functionality for voice-based interactions. Meanwhile, the X8 plan is made for a multichannel contact center.
8×8 offers two types of IVR solutions: basic IVR and intelligent IVR. The basic IVR is included with every contact center license. It’s a fully integrated solution with advanced reporting, CRM integrations, and customer experience analytics. On the other hand, the intelligent IVR is an add-on feature that uses natural language processing (NLP) and automatic speech recognition (ASR) for data capture and identification of customer journey issues.
8×8 is an expensive option if you’re looking for outbound contact center software. The auto-dialer is locked at its highest-level plan, which costs $140 per user, monthly. A cheaper alternative would be CloudTalk, which supports outbound call center campaigns at its Expert plan with monthly pricing of $50 per user, billed annually.
- Agent workspace: A highly intuitive interface that provides quick access to collaboration tools to help agents communicate effectively with their coworkers. It also streamlines customer interactions to deliver faster resolutions.
- Co-browsing: Enables customer support agents to assist customers remotely through a shared browser. A co-browsing session co-exists with a live chat or call.
- Digital channels: An interaction routing solution that allows contact centers to interact with customers based on their channel of choice. Communicate with customers through chat, email, SMS, social media, or messaging apps.
Visit our 8×8 review page to learn more about its unified communications features and contact center solution.
CloudTalk: Best for Outbound Call Campaigns
What We Like
- Virtual phone numbers in over 160 countries
- User-friendly call flow builder
- Call recording is a standard feature
- Lacks video conferencing feature
- Starter plan doesn’t include IVR and SMS
- No monthly billing option
CloudTalk Monthly Pricing (per User)*
- Starter: $25 for one local number, unlimited inbound calls, mobile app, automated call distribution, voicemail, international numbers in over 160 countries, call recording, number porting, call flow designer, ring groups, and call statistics
- Essential: $30 for custom greetings, SMS, conference calls, call masking, caller-based routing, IVR, skills-based routing, call back, workflow automation, and advanced analytics
- Expert: $50 for auto-dialer, call monitoring, VIP queues, CRM integration, wallboard, and unlimited concurrent calls
- Custom: Contact sales for custom onboarding, unlimited outbound calls, enterprise-level security, developer support, and custom reporting
- Free trial: 14 days
*All plans are billed annually.
CloudTalk is a call center software that supports sales teams for outbound dialing campaigns. For example, the predictive dialer eliminates the need to dial numbers manually by automatically dialing phone numbers in your contact list assigned to a particular campaign. It also provides international phone numbers in over 160 countries to help you make calls in other regions without paying high international calling fees.
Like most providers in this list, CloudTalk has a call flow designer that lets you create various branches in your IVR menus that directly address customer needs. Its niche feature—the outbound IVR system—allows agents to proactively send information to multiple platforms through email, SMS, social media, or automated voice calls.
CloudTalk only supports text and voice channels for its call center solution. If you’re looking to add new channels to your contact center, consider Twilio. This provider lets you create custom channels instantly through powerful APIs. Its platform includes a wide variety of communication channels, such as email, video, fax, screen share, and social media.
- Internal phone number tag: If your company uses several phone numbers, CloudTalk lets you assign a unique label to each number so your agents will know the number the customer dialed before answering the call.
- Preferred agent: Pick a preferred agent for each client so their calls are always directed to a particular agent or the most appropriate group of agents. This allows your clients to interact consistently with the same person or group.
- Real-time dashboard: Monitor your contact center key metrics in real time, such as the number of active calls, agent status, and average wait time. It also lets you modify business hours and streamline automated call distribution.
Learn what makes CloudTalk an excellent call center solution in our CloudTalk review.
How We Evaluated the Best IVR Systems for Small Businesses
To identify the best IVR solutions, we considered factors that would enhance the call routing process for a small business. Criteria like pricing are essential because IVR systems vary significantly, and every business has different budget considerations. We also looked at ease of use and other VoIP phone features offered by each IVR provider.
Click on the tabs below for a more in-depth look at how we evaluated the best IVR systems:
20% of Overall Score
Pricing varies significantly from one provider to another. 8×8 and Nextiva have IVR features locked behind higher tiers, while Twilio offers a pay-as-you-go structure that caters to businesses with less consistent IVR requirements. In all situations, we considered the availability of a free trial, volume discounts, and the cost of the base plan in determining the affordability of each provider.
25% of Overall Score
We checked which providers have IVR systems at their base plans and which ones are only available in higher tiers. We also evaluated common capabilities in IVR systems, such as multilanguage support, CRM integration, speech recognition, and analytics.
30% of Overall Score
We looked at some of the advanced features some companies might require when shopping for an IVR vendor. Some niche features we considered are text-to-speech during IVR setup, a call flow designer, and outbound IVR functionality that allows you to reach out to customers directly using text.
25% of Overall Score
We evaluated each IVR system based on ease of use, value for the money, and the overall value of their features. In addition, we looked at how real customers were responding to each provider to understand any professed pain points or strengths each provider had.
Routing calls with an IVR system is a powerful strategy for managing incoming calls to your business. Choosing the right IVR provider is an essential aspect, but putting the customer journey in mind when designing an IVR system is the key to delivering a truly consistent caller experience.
Twilio is our choice for the overall best IVR system for small businesses because it lets you deploy a custom IVR system using a visual tool or web language. It also comes with omnichannel capabilities that allow you to integrate various channels into your IVR to reach customers on their preferred medium of communication. Sign up for a free trial and enjoy 5,000 active user hours.