Interactive voice response (IVR) systems work by responding to callers’ voice commands and contribute to the customer experience while saving businesses time. We compared a dozen advanced business phone solutions, looking for services that offered frustration-free call routing and advanced voice recognition capabilities. However, to be included in our list, services had to also be affordable for smaller businesses.
(Best Overall) Teams needing feature-rich phone service
$29 per agent, per month
Those needing affordability and scalability
Free + paid plans that start at $19 per agent, per month
Businesses with international customers and agents
$20 per user, per month*
$29 per user, per month*
Companies with onsite developers
$1 per active user, per hour
or $150 per named user, per month
Growing companies with custom requirements
$75 per named user, per month*
*Pricing is based on an annual contract.
How We Evaluated IVR Systems
IVR is similar to the auto-attendant feature found in most voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) services. However, these more advanced systems allow callers the option of speaking commands instead of asking them to tap numbers on their phone. This makes it a great option for customer-centric businesses that want to offer customers the convenience of voice-activated or hands-free call routing. However, the technology is only an asset if it understands your callers and makes their process as smooth as possible.
Therefore, we reviewed each business phone system’s IVR functionality based on the following criteria:
- Total cost, including add-on fees
- Integrations with business software
- Analytics and reporting options
- Availability of call center services
- Language support
- Ease of setup and use
- Provider customer service
With voice recognition features on its basic plan, Nectar Desk is our top pick for IVR systems. Its low overall pricing, lack of hidden fees, and scalability make it an excellent choice for small business owners looking to make their call handling more responsive.
Nectar Desk: Best Overall IVR Phone System
Nectar Desk is call center software with three plans—and all include IVR features. Its transparent pricing, integrations, and tons of contact center features make this the best solution for small businesses needing call center capabilities. Prices, which start at $29 per agent, per month, require a three-month minimum commitment, but include more basic plan features than offered by other providers, including skills-based routing and 24/5 phone, chat, and email support.
Nectar Desk Strengths
Nectar Desk Weaknesses
Free 14-day trial with no credit card required
SLA only with Unlimited plan
All plans include IVR capabilities
Minimum commitment may be required
Unlimited call recording
No SMS messaging on Basic Voice plan
Nectar Desk Pricing
- Basic Voice: $29 per agent, per month for unlimited inbound local calls, click-to-call, real-time dashboard, and three call queues
- Multi-Channel: $49 per agent, per month with unlimited queues and agents, email ticketing help desk, SMS messaging, and the ability to embed live chat on your website
- Unlimited: $99 per agent, per month to add a service level agreement (SLA), power dialer, and caller ID masking
Nectar Desk Features
- Integrations: All plans feature integrations with popular software, including Pipedrive, Zendesk, Salesforce, Vonigo, Active Campaign, Zoho, and Salesflare.
- Feature-rich basic plan: Even with the cheapest package, you get over 30 enterprise-level features like ring groups, IVR, call monitoring, call whispering, and call barging.
- IVR system: Nectar Desk IVR recognizes speech and dial pad tones. You can choose business hours and create multiple queues with personalized messages.
Zendesk Talk: Best IVR System for Affordability & Scalability
Zendesk Talk is a customizable solution perfect for small businesses needing a call center platform with customer support capabilities. You can answer calls on a phone or web browser, and it’s incredibly easy to set up and start using. Zendesk Talk offers a free version along with plans running from $19 to $89 per agent, per month. You can start small and then grow into the next package, making Zendesk Talk great for scalability.
Zendesk Talk Strengths
Zendesk Talk Weaknesses
IVR only available on Professional and Enterprise plans
Free trial of Professional plan
Subscription to Zendesk Support required
Call recording and voicemail transcription available in free version
Pricey for high-volume call centers
Zendesk Talk Pricing
- Lite: $0 per month, but you pay usage fees, including per-minute charges for inbound and outbound calls, voicemail, voicemail transcription, and text messages; the plan includes call recording and click-to-call features
- Team: $19 per agent, per month for inbound and outbound SMS and group routing*
- Professional: $49 per agent, per month with IVR, real-time dashboard, and call monitoring with listen and barge*
- Enterprise: $89 per agent, per month for extended call queue wait times and a 99.95% uptime SLA*
- Partner: If you’re already using phone services through one of Zendesk’s partners, contact the company for a custom quote
*Monthly cost based on an annual payment, but you can choose month-to-month plans ranging from $0 to $100 per agent, per month, plus usage.
Zendesk Talk Features
- Multilevel IVR: Set up phone menus for optimal self-service. Customers can reach the right department or person during their call or go to a separate menu to pull up account details or hear answers to frequently asked questions.
- Advanced reporting features: Improve performance using a real-time dashboard to assess labor needs while monitoring your network for audio issues. You can run reports across multiple channels to evaluate average talk time, calls missed, and calls accepted.
- Agent support: The call monitoring and barging feature allows supervisors to jump on a line to provide support to agents, whereas the call recording feature helps you identify potential problems so you can adjust training and frequently asked questions (FAQs) as needed.
CloudTalk: Best for International Customers & Agents
CloudTalk provides call center software with multilevel IVR capabilities for frustration-free customer support. Moreover, you can use an international phone number to support global customers without paying extra fees. All plans also come with one local number at no additional charge. With monthly prices starting at $20 per user, CloudTalk is an affordable option for businesses with worldwide reach.
Free 14-day trial, no credit card required
SLA only available with a Custom plan
IVR comes with all plans except for the Starter plan
No SMS or text on Starter plan
Robust call center features
Phone support only available on Custom and Expert plans
- Starter: $20 per user, per month for click-to-call capabilities, a mobile app, and international numbers for more than 140 companies*
- Essential: $25 per user, per month for advanced analytics with unlimited history, SMS and text messaging, multilevel IVR, real-time dashboard, and skills-based routing*
- Expert: $40 per user, per month for a dedicated account manager, integrations with Salesforce, sentiment and CSAT score, call monitoring with call barging, and call whispering*
- Custom: Contact CloudTalk to discuss a custom solution with custom onboarding, enterprise-level security, and an SLA
*Prices based on one annual payment. For monthly billing with no contract, prices range from $22 to $50 per user, per month.
- One-click integrations: Connect your contact center software to your customer relationship management (CRM) program, ecommerce, or team communications center with one click. CloudTalk integrates with Slack, Salesforce, HubSpot, Pipedrive, Zoho CRM, and many others.
- Three ways to talk: Add flexibility to your operations by using CloudTalk Phone for Desktop, which uses a desktop app. Or use the CloudTalk dashboard, which works from a web browser. Your teams can also download the CloudTalk Go mobile app for Android and iOS.
- Advanced routing features: Create a seamless, multilevel IVR system using the Call Flow Designer tool. Plus, you can automate IVR outbound calls, such as payment reminders. With features like skills-based routing, you can quickly route callers with different language needs or technical requirements.
Kixie: Best IVR System for Metric-driven Telesales Teams
Today’s sales teams work with customer service representatives to ensure they’re answering all questions and giving consumers enough information to make an informed purchase decision. With Kixie, you get advanced sales features, like integrated leaderboards and call center capabilities, packed into one solution. Prices start at $29 per user, per month. All plans include an IVR auto-attendant, making Kixie an excellent option for improving your sales performance.
Includes agent leaderboards and metric tracking
No month-to-month plans
No hidden fees
Short free trial period
Quick setup process
No unlimited minutes plan
- Integrated: $29 per user, per month for an IVR system, click-to-call capability, SMS messaging, mobile app, and sales leaderboard*
- Enterprise: $55 per user, per month for integrations with Slack and Zapier, phone and email support, sales coaching tools, local presence data, and automated SMS*
- Custom: Contact Kixie about plans for custom automations, integrations, onboarding, and help from a dedicated sales engineer
*Pricing based on annual payments, or you can select quarterly billing if you have three or more users with pricing ranging from $35 to $65 per user, per month. U.S. and Canada customers may add unlimited minutes to any plan for an extra $30 per user, per month.
- Sales-specific features: Barge and whispering features help your sales agents close the deal with help from a supervisor. Click-to-call means you can set up a list of leads and click your screen to make the calls. The sales leaderboard visualizes your metrics, while LeadCaller initiates an automatic callback when leads submit their information on your website. Plus, the Kixie PowerCall Chrome extension for Mac, Windows, and Chromebooks puts your calling tools right at your sales team’s fingertips.
- CRM integrations: Bi-directional customer relationship management (CRM) software integrations reduce time spent manually logging calls. You can integrate with CRMs like HubSpot, Pipedrive, Salesforce, and Zoho. You can sync your systems and run reports to determine the volume of your SMS, voicemails, and calls.
Twilio Flex: Best for Companies With Onsite Developers
Twilio Flex is the best IVR system for entirely custom solutions built by your IT development teams. You create a comprehensive omnichannel contact center offering web, phone, email, or SMS communications. This solution is super-scalable because you can add VoIP phone features as you grow without paying a high monthly cost. Twilio offers out-of-the-box plans like Twilio Flex with a flat fee of $150 per named user, per month or per-hour pricing.
Twilio Flex Strengths
Twilio Flex Weaknesses
5,000 free hours
Need an onsite developer to set up
29 data centers for clear calling worldwide
Separate charges for SMS and WhatsApp
Expensive monthly subscription
Twilio Flex Pricing
With Twilio, you can build your plan by choosing various a la carte solutions like programmable SMS, voice, WhatsApp, or SIP trunking services that function as standalone products. Twilio offers pay-as-you-go plans with volume discounts and reduced prices if you commit to a contract. For the Twilio Flex plan, you’ll get an out-of-the-box contact center with intelligent routing and real-time reporting. You start with 5,000 free hours, and then you can choose per-hour or per-month pricing.
- Per-hour pricing: $1 per active user, per hour
- Per-month pricing: $150 per named user (agent, supervisor, or administrator), per month
Twilio Flex Features
- AI features: Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered self-service options use conversational IVRs and chatbots. You can quickly build your voice assistant using Twilio’s autopilot platform with available advanced voice features so callers can use voice or their dial pad to get assistance. The IVR uses natural language understanding and features speech-to-text for 119 languages.
- Embedded integrations: Twilio works well with nearly all CRMs, and you can embed Twilio in Salesforce and Zendesk. Plus, its connections mean you can access customer details from your CRM and look at your available inventory, all while talking to your customer.
- Drag-and-drop reporting: Quickly build and share drag-and-drop reports with customer metrics, performance trends, and key performance indicator (KPI) monitoring.
Genesys Cloud: Best for Growing Companies With Custom Requirements
Genesys Cloud delivers an all-in-one solution for small businesses, customer service, marketing, and sales. It’s easy to set up, and your teams can start using it with little training. Starting at $75 per named user, per month or 68 cents per hour, Genesys Cloud is pricier than other services, making it a good choice for growing companies with more money to spend on a custom service.
Genesys Cloud Strengths
Genesys Cloud Weaknesses
All plans include speech-enabled IVR
More expensive than other providers
Add-on services help with maintenance
SMS messaging only available in top-tier plan
User-friendly, all-in-one dashboard
Can’t customize key performance indicators in reports
Genesys Cloud Pricing
- Genesys Cloud 1: $75 per named user, per month or 68 cents hourly for speech-enabled IVR, voice bots, inbound voice routing, unified communications, and performance dashboards*
- Genesys Cloud 2: $110 per named user, per month or 99 cents hourly for unlimited email and chat, AI-powered customer engagement tools, and quality management with compliance features*
- Genesys Cloud 3: $140 per named user, per month or $1.26 hourly for SMS and messaging app routing, workforce engagement management, screen sharing, and screen recording*
*Pricing is based on one annual payment, and the Genesys Cloud platform has a minimum commitment of $2,000 per month.
Genesys Cloud Features
- Customizable IVR solution: You can create messages and menus for different customers and use prebuilt micro apps for self-service options. Genesys Cloud’s conversational IVR relies on natural language understanding (NLU) and machine learning to recognize speech and better answer customer questions.
- AI-voice bots: AI-enabled digital assistants interact with your customers using natural language. If your client still needs help, the voice bot transfers the customer to a live agent and includes all interaction details.
- Unified communications: Well-designed software puts conversations from all channels in one spot. From customer engagement tools to workforce management, this intuitive solution supports agents and administrators.