Visual IVRs (Interactive Voice Response) combine traditional IVR technology with visual elements such as images, videos, and menus that make for a fast, user-friendly experience. In call centers where there’s a large volume of incoming calls and customer inquiries to handle, visual IVRs can help customers get their answers more promptly and directly.

This also makes self-service easier as it’s a visual experience for the customer: callers can scan and view their options at a glance, skip right to their solution, or choose to speak with an agent immediately if they can’t find what they’re looking for. 

This puts a ton of control back in the customer’s hands, which is a huge improvement over long call queues and repetitive hold music.

Visual IVRs work so well because they have one thing traditional IVRs just can’t match: speed. Done right, a visual IVR system uplevels the entire customer experience from start to finish by making the whole process much, much faster.

Visual IVR in Detail: More Than Just a Screen

When customers call a number and are greeted by an IVR system, they’re usually led through a pre-recorded menu. For example, when a customer calls a business, they’re often asked to press 1 for billing, press 2 for customer service, and so on.

This is the traditional IVR experience that most of us are familiar with. However, visual IVRs take things a step further by incorporating visual elements into the menu options. 

This means that instead of just hearing a list of options, customers can see them on their screens and interact with them directly by clicking or tapping on the options that best fit their needs. This makes the entire calling process faster and more efficient.

Additionally, visual IVRs can display important information such as estimated wait times, opening hours, and frequently asked questions. This gives your customers all the information they need right from the start. They don’t have to guess how long they’ll be waiting to speak to an agent, and if there’s an easy answer to their query, they can potentially find it themselves right on the screen in front of them.

Here’s how a visual IVR system works:

  1. First, the customer calls your business number, just like normal. (Customers can also access your business’s visual IVR system through clicking a link or even scanning a QR code on your company website.)
  2. They’re greeted by an automated message and asked if they want to select the self-service option
  3. If they choose the self-service option, they’re sent a text message with a link.
  4. When the customer clicks the links and authenticates who they are (if applicable), they’re presented with options on the visual menu in front of them.
  5. The customer can search the menu and select the option most aligned with their needs.
  6. The submission is then completed automatically. If the customer didn’t find what they needed, though, they can still ask to speak to a customer service agent. You can even set it up so all of the information they’ve already inputted into the system will go straight to the agent, meaning your customers won’t need to repeat anything they’ve already done. The agent will have all the details in front of them before the call starts.

If you run a high-volume call center, a visual IVR system can be especially useful, as it gives customers the option to answer their own queries without needing to talk to an agent. This reduces wait times and allows your agents to focus on more complex issues that may require more problem solving and nuance.

It’s also a solid option if the most common calls your call center gets are for bill payments and appointment scheduling—these are easy calls that usually don’t require agent intervention.

Visual IVRs work well because they’re fast and offer a quick, pain-free way for your customers to pay bills, schedule appointments, and answer their own questions easily.

5 More Reasons You Should Consider Visual IVR

Speed isn’t the only reason a visual IVR is a solid choice for most businesses. Here are five more benefits to consider:

Improves the Customer Experience

When callers don’t have to wait around and repeat themselves to every agent they’re transferred to, they’re far less likely to get frustrated. A visual IVR offers a nice alternative to the complex maze that callers often find themselves in when they call a business, especially big enterprises that have a ton of departments. Overall, your customers will feel like they’re being taken care of, and they’ll appreciate having options outside traditional phone calls.

Shortens Call Hold Times

By providing the option to use the visual IVR system, customers don’t have to wait for an agent before they can get help. This reduces the overall wait time for customers who do need agent help, and it also means agents will feel less hurried to get through one call so they can quickly get to the next.

Reduces Call Abandonment

The biggest reason for call abandonment? Having to wait around forever before finally getting help. A visual IVR system can drastically reduce your call abandonment rates, ensuring all your customers are getting the help they need, regardless of whether or not they end up speaking to an agent.

Lowers Operating Costs for Call Centers

Because visual IVRs can process customer inquiries and requests faster, call centers may not need to hire as many agents. This leads to cost savings in terms of employee salaries, training expenses, equipment, and other operational costs.

Increases First Call Resolution Rates

Unless their request is unexpectedly complex, customers who take the visual IVR route will usually resolve their problem in the first call. As a result, your overall first-call resolution rate will be improved, too. 

When Visual IVR Makes Sense (and When It Doesn’t)

Most businesses could benefit from a visual IVR system, but here are a few types of organizations that could find it especially useful:

  • Postal services and delivery companies: The majority of the calls to these call centers are related to status updates and cancellations, both of which can be handled just fine with a visual IVR.
  • Retail and ecommerce: In these use cases, visual IVRs can be used for abandoned carts, loyalty programs, order updates, and handling returns or exchanges, streamlining an often complex process for both customers and service teams.
  • Healthcare: In the case of a medical practice, a visual IVR system can help with scheduling appointments, canceling them, providing test results, and making simple system updates. 
  • Banking and finance: Many operations can be safely done via a visual IVR, like finding out account balances, increasing debit or credit card transaction limits, or making transaction verifications.
  • Service providers: Customers can easily access their account, change their plan, and activate or deactivate certain services or features, all from the visual IVR menu.

There are really only a few niche scenarios when a visual IVR may not be a great option for your business:

  • Your target audience isn’t a fit: If your target audience mainly comprises an older demographic, or people unlikely to own smartphones, then a visual IVR may not be super useful.
  • Very small businesses: If your call center and customer base are small, and you’re still maintaining a very personal relationship with your customers, then switching to a visual IVR could potentially hurt your brand by removing the personal connection you have with your customers.
  • Complex workflows: If your business has complex processes and inquiries that can’t be handled through simple menu options, then a traditional IVR might still be the better option.

Is Visual IVR Just a Trend? Why It May Become Obsolete

Visual IVRs can work in many use cases—but they may become a call center trend that’s obsolete before it even becomes widespread.


A lot of call centers are now shifting towards AI-enhanced IVRs, which offer a ton of helpful features. 

For instance, AI-enhanced IVR systems can use natural language processing (NLP) to make it easier for callers to speak their requests in normal, everyday language rather than following a strict set of commands. With speech recognition technology, they can also understand caller intent and give human-like responses and reactions. 

When you integrate your IVR system with your CRM software, you open up even more possibilities. An AI-enhanced IVR can immediately recognize who is calling based on the caller’s phone number, see account details, and add a touch of personalization to the call. 

And just like visual IVRs, AI-enhanced IVRs offer self-service options, meaning customers can get the answers they need without human intervention.

If they do want to speak to a human, though, these systems have smart IVR routing options, allowing them to route the caller to the appropriate agent.

While visual IVRs are great, there’s a lot to love about AI-enhanced IVR systems. And as technology continues to improve, so will the systems, making them a smart option for busy call centers.

Create a Visual IVR That Customers Love to Use

Not all visual IVRs are created alike. If you want customers to like it, you need to build it in a way that’s genuinely helpful and easy for customers to use intuitively.

Here are some essential best practices to keep in mind when creating a visual IVR:

  • Document everything you do: Make sure to document all the processes, menus, and options that you wish to include in your visual IVR. This will help you ensure a smooth customer experience.
  • Provide instructions to callers before the SMS is sent: Some of your customers may be new to visual IVRs, so make sure you relay the instructions for using the system ahead of time.
  • Employ a user-friendly interface: Your visual IVR should be designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind. Keep things clear, concise, and intuitive so any customer can use it without issues.
  • Offer real-time assistance: Sometimes, customers may still require assistance even when using a visual IVR. In these cases, make sure to have real-time support options available such as live chat or call-back features. This will ensure that your customer’s issue is still being resolved quickly and efficiently.
  • Regularly update and improve: A visual IVR shouldn’t be a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. It should emulate your call center, the most common issues you find, and the best and fastest answers possible. Regularly review your IVR to see what works, what doesn’t, and how you can optimize the system to meet your callers’ needs.
  • Provide access to live agents: Customers love automated systems in most instances. However, you should always make it easy for them to speak to a live agent, regardless of the complexity of their issue.