Main Number Handling: Response Groups, pt 6 – Interactive Response Groups

We’ve setup and explored almost all of the functionality that Response Groups have to offer. The remaining part is Interactive Response Groups. You may know these as IVR, or Interactive Voice Response, or call trees.

Interactive Response Groups allows you to play a message, and have the caller press a key or say a response, in order to direct them to the most appropriate Queue.

Configuration Differences vs Hunt Groups

In comparison to Hunt Groups only Step 7 in the configuration process differs. In Step 7 for Hunt Groups, you simple select a Queue to send the call to. For Interactive Response Groups you need to specify, at a minimum:

  • A welcome message, either icky text-to-speech or a recording
  • Two options for your callers to choose from, along with Queues to deliver them to

With the response details collapsed, Step 7 looks like this

Step 7 collapsed


Note that Responses 3 and 4 are optional, use the checkbox to enable them.

The configuration options within each Response are the same. First, you specify what response from your caller corresponds to this Response option:

Response 1

You can configure keypresses of 0-9, *, #, or nothing. You can also provide voice-recognized words for your callers to use. Note that a blank keypress means your callers must use a voice response. Given that crummy cell phone calls can interfere with speech recognition, you should always include a keypress option. For voice recognition options, you can include multiple responses separated by a comma. For example:

Response 1 multianswer

If you want to offer more level of questions, you can choose to ask another question instead of sending a call to a queue

 Full Response Expand

Here again, you must provide at least two options, and you have an option to provide up to four.

With the four “level one” options, and then 4 more “level 2” options, you can ask you callers a maximum of two questions, and direct them to 16 different Queues based on their response. In my experience, that’s more than sufficient to prevent annoying your callers, but to also get them to the right agent. If you need more options, you can use PowerShell to configure more, Anthony Caragol provides a great overview of that process. That doesn’t look like fun, and if you build a mess and hand it off to a co-worker, I’m pretty confident you won’t be getting any Christmas cards from them. Worse would be if you build a mess, and then have to come back and change it yourself in several months.

You might also consider Call Flow Manager which provides a much better interface and allows for more options.

However, be aware that if you configure a Response Group that has more options than your GUI of choice, you must resort to Powershell. Planning your IVR carefully means happier callers, and happier you. If you find yourself being forced into PowerShell to manage your IVR Response Groups, I’d say that’s a pretty strong indicator that you should have a look at contact center software.

When you’re configuring multiple layers, note that you don’t have to have two layers for every option. For example, if your first level question is “Sales or Support”, you can send calls for the sales team off to the Sales Queue, and then ask  a 2nd level question for those who chose Support.

There is a lot of flexibility in the Interactive portion of Response Groups versus a standard Hunt Group. Plan carefully to keep yourself happy when you to support what you’ve built!


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