Choosing the right IVR solution can be an overwhelming task — especially if you’re a small business owner just trying to see what’s out there.
Thankfully, this guide makes it easy to choose the right IVR system for small businesses by comparing the seven best solutions of 2023. If you’re struggling to narrow down your options or are on the fence between two or more solutions, check out our helpful vetting checklist at the bottom of this guide.
Now, let’s look at how the top IVR systems compare side by side.
The top IVR systems for small business compared
Here’s a comparison chart of the best business phone solutions with IVR systems based on their prices and features:
|Provider||Price||Unlimited calling to US & Canada||SMS & MMS to US & Canada||IVR menu||Shared numbers|
|OpenPhone||Starts at $23 per user per month||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Aircall||Starts at $30 per user per month||✓||SMS support only||✓||✓|
|Nextiva||Starts at $28.95 per user per month||✓||Requires upgrade||✓||✓|
|Cloudtalk||Starts at $25 per user per month||Unlimited calls to Canada from US only||Requires upgrade||Requires upgrade||x|
|Vonage||Starts at $19.99 per user per month (1-year contract)||✓||Local US and Canadian numbers only||Requires upgrade||Requires upgrade or $4.99 add-on for each call group|
|RingCentral||Starts at $20 per user per month||✓||Local US and Canadian numbers only||✓||✓|
|8×8||Starts at $15 per user per month||✓||X||✓||✓|
Keep reading as we cover each of these phone solutions in depth below.
7 best IVRs for small business
What kind of IVR does your business need? It depends on what you’re looking for.
But before we get started, let’s break down a few key terms.
We use two different phrases in this guide: IVR and auto-attendant systems. Auto-attendants can help you build phone menus that respond to number inputs (like ‘Press One for Sales). Phone menus can also include IVRs so callers can respond to verbal commands and usually offer more advanced features (including the ability to playback a recording containing more information based on a menu option).
If you’re looking for basic call routing tools, a simple auto-attendant may be what you need. However, if you want voice-activated tools and the ability to automate certain workflows, you probably want an auto-attendant that includes IVR technology.
Need a little of both? You have a couple of options.
Let’s look at a provider with the best of both worlds —
1. OpenPhone: The top phone platform with IVR for small businesses
- IVR included on the Business plan
- Use a new number or port your existing number for free
- Works anywhere with a WiFi connection
- Compatible with devices you already own
- Offers shared numbers so you can split responsibility for incoming calls and messages
- No multi-level IVR (but it’s coming soon)
OpenPhone is the #1 business phone solution as rated by thousands of growing companies on G2. As a small business owner, you can easily scale your business phone system as your team grows. Each user on your plan comes with one local US, Canadian, or North American toll-free number. You can also create shared numbers for your team to split responsibility for incoming calls.
Worried about what may happen to your current business number? Good news — you don’t have to buy a new number from OpenPhone to put IVR on your existing number. Because OpenPhone works via VoIP, you can port your existing number for free using our two-minute form. Then, you can add IVR in a couple of steps and build voice-activated menus in 15 minutes or less.
You can use OpenPhone’s IVR to help callers reach specific team members or departments depending on their needs. You can have customers either dial from their keypad and/or use voice commands to select specific phone menu options. For example, if you map the number one to your sales department, callers can either say ‘Sales’ or press one to navigate to the right location.
OpenPhone’s IVR is available on the Business plan ($23 per user per month). You can set any of the following as phone menu options:
- Automatically route calls to any OpenPhone numbers. This includes specific teammates’ direct lines or shared team numbers
- Forward calls to a US or Canadian number outside of OpenPhone
- Let the call through so anyone that has access to that specific number and is available can take the incoming call
- Send calls to a specific team member of a shared inbox
- Send straight to voicemail
- Playback an informational audio recording based on frequently asked questions (like your team’s business hours or how to pay an outstanding bill)
If a caller doesn’t select a menu option, the auto-attendant greeting plays again by default. However, you can also set the system to forward calls automatically so no customers get lost looking for help. This keeps important conversations from falling through the cracks and can help you build better relationships with your customers.
Thousands of small businesses rely on OpenPhone to simplify their daily workflows and build relationships with customers — and not just because of our intuitive IVR. By signing up for OpenPhone’s Business plan, you also get:
- Free calls and texting to the US and Canada from almost anywhere else in the world
- Call recordings with unlimited storage so you can always listen back on past conversations
- Integrations with Zapier, Slack, HubSpot, and Salesforce help you automate repetitive tasks and give your team context based on the tools you’re already using
- Time-saving texting automations, like scheduled messages, snippets, and auto-replies
Try OpenPhone’s IVR for yourself in our seven-day free trial.
OpenPhone key features
- One new local or toll-free number per member of your team
- Free calls and texts in the US and Canada
- Call recording
- Integrations with Zapier, Slack, HubSpot, and Salesforce
- Voicemail to text
- Starter: $15 per user per month for unlimited calls in the US and Canada, and one free US, Canadian, or toll-free number per user
- Business: $23 per user per month for IVR, HubSpot and Salesforce integrations, and call transfers
- Enterprise: Custom price for audit logs, account managers, and priority support
2. Aircall: The best solution for building a call center
- Unlimited calls in the US and Canada
- Stock hold music and text-to-speech greetings
- Only one local or toll-free number included per account
- More expensive than other IVR solutions
- Three user minimum on the basic plan
Aircall is a cloud-based phone system that offers call center software to sales and support teams. Their interactive voice response system uses number and voice recognition to route callers where they need to go. If you don’t want to set your custom greeting, you can:
- Choose from their pre-set text-to-speech options
- Set up stock hold music
You should know Aircall doesn’t offer extra phone numbers when you add new users to your plan. You have to pay $6 per month for additional numbers or forward incoming calls to your team’s personal numbers. This could throw off your work/life balance and make setting expectations with your customers difficult.
Plus, Aircall’s basic plan ($30 per user per month) comes with a three-user minimum. If you’re a solopreneur or a team of two, you may have to pay for licenses you don’t need. This means Aircall’s IVR is a minimum of $90 per month — which may be more than you’re willing to pay as a growing small business.
If you want an IVR solution at a lower price, you’re better off looking at an Aircall alternative.
Aircall key features
- Call recording
- Click to call
- Unlimited simultaneous outbound calls
- Free inbound and outbound calls in the US and Canada
- Essentials: $30 per user per month for local, toll-free, or international numbers, call recording, and click to call (three user minimum)
- Professional: $50 per user per month for the Power Dialer and Salesforce integration (three user minimum)
- Custom: Personalized quote for custom analytics, API support, and unlimited calls worldwide (10 user minimum)
3. Nextiva: Top UcaaS solution
- Good for distributed teams
- Auto-attendant on the basic plan
- Advanced auto-attendant and voicemail transcriptions require upgrade
- No SMS or MMS on the basic plan
- No unlimited minutes for toll-free numbers
- Smaller teams pay more per user
Nextiva is a unified communications platform (also known as UcaaS) that combines video, voice, and text messaging tools.
On Nextiva’s Professional plan ($27.95 per user per month), you can use an auto-attendant to create basic call flows for customers. Callers can use both keypad inputs and voice commands to get where they want to go. However, if you want more advanced IVR, you need to switch over to their Contact Center plans. Just know this may cost extra (to the tune of $50 per user per month).
Keep in mind also Nextiva has several other limitations — and you have to upgrade to access features that most small businesses need. For example:
- If you want to transcribe any voicemails, you need to upgrade to the Enterprise plan ($43.95 per user per month)
- Call recording is also locked behind the Enterprise plan, which could be a problem if you need to record your calls for legal or contextual purposes
- Toll-free numbers require an upgrade to unlock extra minutes — and no matter how much you upgrade, you can’t get more than 12,500 minutes
Nextiva’s Advanced IVR was built for large enterprise brands. Many of its other features were designed for larger-than-average call volumes (and as a result, you pay per month with Nextiva), including:
- Conversational AI (answer FAQs without routing to a live agent)
- Intelligent call distribution (routes callers to an agent who can meet their needs)
- Queue callback (calls back customers so they don’t have to wait on hold)
These features may go beyond what you need as a small business owner. Plus, with the steep cost of entry, it may not be sustainable for your budget.
Nextiva key features
- Basic auto-attendant (IVR)
- Multi-level auto-attendant (requires upgrade)
- Custom hold music
- Free number porting
- Voicemail transcriptions (requires upgrade)
If you just want a basic phone menu and don’t care about advanced interactive voice response, you can pay for one of Nextiva’s Business Communications plans.
However, you should know Nextiva bases its prices on how many users you have on your plan. If you’re a larger team, you pay less per user. But if you’re a small business owner, you have to pay more.
Teams of one to four users pay the following prices:
- Essential: $23.95 for basic auto-attendant, 1,500 toll-free minutes, and free number porting
- Professional: $27.95 for multi-level auto-attendants, 3,000 toll-free minutes, SMS and MMS support, and one professionally recorded greeting
- Enterprise: $37.95 for 12,500 toll-free minutes, call recording, and three professional greetings
If you want a true IVR solution, you need to pay for one of Nextiva’s Contact Center plans. Prices start at $50 per user per month, but the only way to get an accurate estimate for your business is to contact support for a quote.
- Core: Get call recordings and 24/7 support
- Premium: Unlock screen recordings, scorecards, and quality management tools
- Optimum: Access advanced system security, call coaching, and real-time notifications for customers
- Ultimate: Use pre-built integrations, automated workflows, and interaction analytics
Keep in mind Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVAs) come with an undisclosed add-on fee.
4. CloudTalk: Best system for having an outbound contact center
- Multi-level IVR
- No user limits
- IVR not available on the basic plan
- Speech-to-text requires an add-on
- No new numbers included per new user on your plan
CloudTalk offers call center software specifically for outbound call centers. You can use their multi-level IVR to create submenus that have more options than basic IVR alone. For example, you could create two separate menus based on location (i.e., ‘Press One for Seattle and Two for Chicago’). Then, you could build separate options within those menus to get callers where they need to go (like ‘Press Three for The Help Desk’).
You can’t access CloudTalk’s IVR solution on the basic plan. Instead, you have to upgrade to the Essential plan ($30 per user per month) then purchase new phone numbers for the users on your account (if you don’t want them to use their personal numbers). Additional numbers from CloudTalk are $6 per number per month.
Even once you’ve upgraded your plan to access CloudTalk’s IVR, you may still need to upgrade once or twice more to unlock specific features. For example:
- VIP queues (which help important customers get through the line faster) are only available on the Expert plan
- You can’t convert calls or recordings into text unless you upgrade to Expert and pay an undisclosed add-on cost
- There’s no way to make unlimited concurrent calls unless you upgrade ($50 per user per month)
And no matter how much you upgrade, you can’t make unlimited outbound calls without paying flat rates.
CloudTalk key features
- Multi-level IVR
- Ring groups
- Automatic call distribution
- Toll-free and international numbers
- Call recording
- Starter: $25 per user per month for unlimited internal calls, automatic call distribution (ACD), and international numbers
- Essential: $30 per user per month for IVR, third-party integrations, and SMS support
- Expert: $50 per user per month for call whispering, unlimited concurrent calls, and integration with Salesforce
- Custom: Personalized quote for unlimited outbound calls, custom reports, and enterprise-level security
5. Vonage: Top solution with an API
- Highly customizable
- Auto-attendant available
- No out-of-the-box solution for IVR
- Auto-attendant requires upgrade
- Requires coding knowledge
Vonage is a business phone solution specializing in APIs. In other words, there’s no out-of-the-box solution for IVR — you have to use their communication API to create a workflow yourself.
If you’re not worried about voice-activated call routing and don’t mind settling for less, you can use Vonage’s auto-attendant feature starting at $29.99 per line per month. However, you still can’t access critical business features like on-demand call recording and visual voicemail until you upgrade to the highest tier ($39.99 per line per month).
Speaking of additional features, you should know Vonage’s IVR isn’t the only tool that requires API. There are several other features you can only get through programming, like:
- Call tracking
- Call transcriptions
- Call whispering
Unless you’re familiar with coding (or know someone who can do it for you), Vonage’s IVR may be a labor-intensive option that doesn’t fit your growing business.
Vonage key features
- Use IVR on mobile and desktop apps
- Calls and texts in US and Canada
- 20+ third party integrations
- Unlimited internal messaging
- Toll-free numbers (requires add-on)
Like Nextiva, the price you pay for Vonage depends on the size of your team. The fewer coworkers you have, the more you have to pay, which can be frustrating if you’re just trying to get your business up and running.
Just want Vonage’s auto-attendant feature? Teams of one to four users have to pay:
- Mobile: $19.99 per number per month for calling and texting, team messaging, and access to the Vonage App Center
- Premium: $29.99 per number per month for auto-attendants, CRM integrations, and IP desk phone compatibility
- Advanced: $39.99 per number per month for call groups, visual voicemail, and on-demand call recording (15 hours per month)
If you want to set up an IVR system through Vonage’s API, you have to pay a minimum of $0.0043 per call to get started. Next, you must purchase standard or premium voices (premium costs $0.0029 per 100 characters). Finally, you can buy Vonage’s Natural Language Processing API for $0.0543 per minute.
Keep in mind this doesn’t include the price of hiring a developer to implement your IVR — or Vonage’s optional AI monitoring packaging (starting at $5,033 per month).
6. RingCentral: Top option for monitoring devices
- Multi-level auto-attendant available
- IVR helps customers complete simple tasks on their own (like setting PIN numbers for their account)
- Voicemail transcriptions and automatic call recordings require upgrade
- Limited storage for recordings and other files without upgrading
- Base plan only includes 25 texts per user per month
RingCentral is a cloud-based contact center solution with plans for calls, texts, and video conferencing. You can use the platform to connect your team with a multi-level phone menu that responds to keypad entries and voice commands.
Let’s break down the features:
- RingCentral’s multi-level auto-attendants respond to voice commands or keypad entries
- Apart from directing customers via keypad and voice commands, you can also set up intelligent call flows to create processes customers can do themselves (like check their account balance)
- Keep in mind this tool is only available in the US, Canada, and the UK
Although you can access RingCentral’s IVR system from any plan, most of its best features are locked behind higher tiers. This means you may have to upgrade multiple times just to unlock basic calling features, which may not be cost-effective as your business grows.
- Voicemail transcriptions and automatic call recordings require upgrade
- All files, texts, and call recordings come with limited storage unless you upgrade ($35 per user per month)
- You can only send up to 25 texts per user per month on the basic plan, and 200 texts per user on the highest tier (unless you want to pay extra)
- Device analytics and alerts are only available on the Ultra plan (also $35 per user per month)
If you’re responsible for a larger team and need to keep an eye on your teammates, RingCentral may be an expensive option without much flexibility for your budget.
RingCentral key features
- Local or toll-free numbers
- Unlimited calls in the US and Canada
- Integrations with Google and Microsoft apps
- On-demand call recording (automatic requires upgrade)
- Business SMS (25 texts per user per month on their base plan)
You can access RingCentral’s IVR on any of its Business Communication plans:
- Core: $20 per user per month for unlimited domestic calling, SMS and MMS (25 texts per user per month), and integrations with Google and Microsoft apps (like Calendar or Teams)
- Advanced: $25 per user per month for automatic call recording, call whispering, and 300+ other third-party integrations (like Salesforce and Hubspot)
- Ultra: $35 per user per month for unlimited file sharing, unlimited storage, and device alerts and analytics
7. 8×8: Best solution for omnichannel support with a call center
- Multi-level auto-attendants can provide you with call-based routing and submenus
- Advanced IVR offers voice-based routing and self-service options (like over-the-phone payments)
- IVR requires a paid add-on
- Unlimited call recording storage costs extra
- May have to pay for features you don’t need
- A more expensive solution than other VoIP solutions with IVR
8×8 is a contact center solution with tools for all your business channels, including phone calls, social media, chat, and more. You can purchase a Business Communications plan to access a multi-level IVR, including other built-in tools for voice, video, and texting. Alternatively, you can opt for their Contact Center plans to unlock a specialized add-on: intelligent interactive voice response (IIVR).
You can use 8×8’s ‘IIVR’ to automate repetitive tasks and potentially boost customer satisfaction. For example, you could set up call flows that:
- Answer frequently asked questions
- Help customers pay bills over the phone
- Set up appointments with members of your team
But IIVR doesn’t come cheap. 8×8’s Contact Center plans start at $85 per user per month.
Plus, 8×8’s Contact Center plans were built for enterprises — not small business owners. In the future, you may need quality management and speech analytics, but with just a few employees (and a leaner budget), features like over-the-phone bill paying may not apply to your business.
The same goes for upgrading plans under 8×8’s Business Communications tier. Your business may not be ready for a dedicated platform for receptionists and operators, but that’s what you get when you upgrade from X2 to X4 (a $20 per month per user increase).
Keep in mind 8×8’s IVR isn’t automatically available on its stock Contact Center plans. Instead, you must purchase a separate add-on after getting a custom quote, which can inflate your monthly bill. If you use call recordings as a reference later or in case a legal dispute comes up, recordings are only available with 8×8 for up to 90 days — unless you are willing to also pay an add-on fee.
8×8 key features
Satisfied with a basic call routing system? Here’s what you can expect if you opt for 8×8’s Business Communication plans:
- Multi-level auto-attendant
- Voicemail transcriptions
- Hot desking
- Mobile, web, and desktop apps
- Ring groups
Still want real IVR? These are the key features you get with the Contact Center plans:
- ‘Unlimited’ media storage
- 99.999% uptime guarantee
- HIPAA compliance
- Advanced reporting
If you’re happy with a keypad-based call routing system, you can pay for one of 8×8’s Business Communication plans:
- X2: $24 per user per month for multi-level auto attendants, unlimited voice calling in 14 countries, and CRM integrations
- X4: $44 per user per month for unlimited voice calling in 48 countries, call whispering, and supervisor analytics
Rather get the intelligent interactive voice response system? You have to upgrade to one of the Contact Center plans:
- X6: $85 per user per month for skills-based routing, voicemail transcriptions, and the same multi-level auto-attendant from the Business Communication plans
- X7: $110 per user per month for co-browsing, omnichannel routing, and access to chat, email, SMS, and social media channels
- X8: $140 per user per month for speech analytics, an autodialer, and quality management
Keep in mind none of the Contact Center plans come with IVR — they just unlock your ability to purchase the add-on. The price for the add-on isn’t disclosed online, so you’ll have to contact the company directly if you’re interested in a quote.
How we ranked the top IVR systems for small business
We followed a specific process to narrow down our list of the best IVR systems.
First, we looked at the available options and disregarded platforms with low ratings and limited features. Then, we trialed the remaining platforms and ranked each based on the following factors:
- Prices: Phone systems that offer better value for the price rank higher on our list. This includes platforms with more features that most small businesses need and scalability than other competitors.
- Calling features: IVR isn’t the only feature you need to reach current customers and clients. We didn’t list IVR systems missing critical call management features (including unlimited calls to the US and Canada).
- Third-party integrations: Modern businesses use multiple platforms to connect with customers and leads, which is why partnering with an integration-friendly phone system is so important. The higher an entry ranks on our list, the more useful their integrations are.
- Customer support: Can users get support when they need it? Or are there long wait times involved? The best solutions offer extra support to customers when they need a helping hand.
- User experience: It should never be hard to navigate your phone system’s interface — even if you haven’t used it before. Any amount of confusion could lead to downtime for your business and a poor customer experience in the meantime.
- Advanced features: Your small business won’t stay small forever. You need a scalable phone solution that can offer more features as your business grows, including CRM integrations, call transfers, automations, and more.
We also took user feedback into account. Our team visited review sites like G2 and Trust Radius to gain the perspective of small business owners. This allowed us to understand what current and past users had to say about a platform so we could rank the top options accordingly.
How to get the right IVR system for your small business
It can feel like a painstaking process to pick the right IVR software for your small business, especially when faced with so many decisions. However, rest assured there are a few simple questions to ask that can better identify your business needs.
Here’s a checklist you can run through to land on the right IVR solution:
- Make a shortlist of your favorite providers based on what you need right now. Apart from interactive voice response, what else does your company require? Shared numbers? Unlimited inbound calling? Write down everything that comes to mind.
- You should know exactly what your IVR system offers and how it can grow with you in the future. Before you sign on the dotted line, ask yourself: how quickly and cheaply can this system scale up? Can I unlock better features when I’m ready? You can use this guide and reviews from G2 and TrustPilot to make an informed decision.
- Now that your list is getting smaller, it’s time to verify a critical feature: the responsiveness of customer support. Start by reaching out to their team on your own. If they don’t answer your questions quickly (or worse, at all), you may want to consider crossing them off the list.
- Next, you should take the free trial provided to see how the solution meets the needs of your business. This is the best way to disqualify a bad fit for your company, especially if you can add multiple members of your team. With OpenPhone, you can add co-workers to your trial account so everyone on your team can test the system together.
By now, you should be left with your winning IVR provider — and we may be a little biased, but there’s a good chance it’s OpenPhone.
OpenPhone: the best IVR for small business
Choosing the right IVR for your small business can feel like taking a leap in the dark. However, when you compare the prices, features, and integrations of the best programs, you can see choosing OpenPhone is as clear as night and day for most small businesses.
With OpenPhone, you can have a dedicated business number (or multiple numbers) that connects team members, departments, or other groups with a user-friendly IVR. You can easily create self-service phone menus that direct customers where they need to go without the help of live agents. This means you can save more time for your team while delivering a better customer experience. And since our phone numbers, calling features, and IVR run directly through VoIP, you can take your business (and your IVR) anywhere with an internet connection.
Thousands of customers rely on OpenPhone’s business phone system to build better relationships with their customers. Try it for yourself in our seven-day free trial and set up an IVR in 15 minutes or less.
Meagan is a professional writer in VA that has covered business phone communication since 2021. If she’s not helping companies navigate VoIP technology, she’s helping companies craft their own stories.