Interactive voice response (IVR) is a technology that allows a computer to interact with humans through the use of voice & DTMF tones input via a keypad. In telecommunications, IVR allows customers to interact with a company’s host system via a telephone keypad or by speech recognition, after which services can be inquired about through the IVR dialogue. IVR systems can respond with pre-recorded or dynamically generated audio to further direct users on how to proceed. IVR systems deployed in the network are sized to handle large call volumes and also used for outbound calling, as IVR systems are more intelligent than many predictive dialer systems.

VR systems can be used for mobile purchases, banking payments and services, retail orders, utilities, travel information & weather conditions. A common misconception refers to an automated attendant as an IVR. The terms are distinct & mean different things to traditional telecommunications professionals—the purpose of an IVR is to take input, process it, & return a result, whereas that of an automated attendant is to route calls. The term voice response unit (VRU) is sometimes used as well.