Stands for "Interactive Voice Response." IVR is a telephony technology that can read a combination of touch tone and voice input. It gives users the ability to access a database of information via phone. A typical IVR system has several menus of prerecorded options that the caller can choose from. While many choices are as basic as choosing a number, some options may require the caller to speak detailed information such as his name or account number. This input is read by the IVR system and is used to access the appropriate information in the database.
For example, a bank may have an IVR system that allows members to call in and check their balance or recent transactions. Credit card companies and stock brokerage firms also use IVR systems to allow users to access information from their account. The technology can also be used for other purposes such as phone surveys, checking movie times, and call center forwarding. Because the caller can vocally respond to prerecorded messages, using an IVR system is almost like talking to another human being. That is, as long as it understands you.