How IVR’s and Voice Messaging can help Optimize Your Community Action Agency Operations

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Some quick definitions before we get started:

IVR = Interactive Voice Response. This is a voice recording with which you interact. It can be as simple as “press 1 for sales”, “press 2 for support” or “press 3 for other needs.” Or it could be a recording with which you have a conversation of sorts, by stating your reason for calling and prompts from the recording where you provide necessary information to the system.

Now, I know many of you are now saying, “I hate those things” with the possible addition of a few expletives. But, they are improving in functionality and if used properly, can help your agency run smoother.

Voice Messaging: Very simply, Voice Messaging is a recorded message that you can send to all of your clients, or a select group with information that is helpful to them.

Uses and Benefits

IVR’s and Voice Messaging can help your agencies in many ways. Here are a few examples:


IVR Uses:

    • Want to know how your agency is doing? Create a small survey consisting of 3 or 4 questions and schedule a time for the calls to be made to your clients. Some will hang up, but many will be anxious to share their opinion.
    • Did you recently hold an agency-sponsored event? Getting feedback from clients or other attendees such as donors, will help to make your event better next year.
    • Are you instituting a change in the near future? Conduct a survey before the changes, then after to see if the changes are having the desired effect.
  • Use them as a phone greeting when people call the agency. Callers can easily be directed to the proper department. Even if you use a live operator, it’s handy to use an IVR for operator breaks. By doing that, you eliminate the need to pull another staff member from their job to answer the phone.
  • IVR’s are a great way to confirm an appointment. Whether it’s a meeting with a Case Worker or a pick-up from your transportation service, automated phone calls help to reduce no-shows.

IVR Benefits:

  • The data you get from surveys is invaluable in getting a true picture of how your agency is performing and identify areas that need improvement.
  • Saves money. Reduces staffing needs as you don’t need to assign staff and volunteers to making phone calls. This allows you to concentrate your efforts on delivering services direct to your clients. This is also a great way to get clients onboard with the use of the IVR. Tell them that you can deliver greater customer service by using the IVR.


Surveys used to cost a lot of money. You either had to call all the people you want to survey, or you printed a survey and mailed it to those people. All those efforts and money are saved by conducting your surveys with an IVR.

Voice Messaging Uses:

  • It’s a great way to remind people of an upcoming event.
  • Use Voice messaging to alert clients or other interested parties of some important decision or event. Maybe your office is going to close early due to inclement weather. An automated voice message is not only practical, it’s a huge convenience, and polite too.
  • Do you offer transportation services? Voice messaging the night before any scheduled rides decreases no-shows in transportation services. Do you send out automated messages to clients who have Case Worker appointments? As with transportation, it decreases no=shows.

Voice Messaging Benefits:

  • Saves time. Imagine you have an event tomorrow that’s being attended by 300 clients. Now imagine calling each one with some of your staff to remind them of the event. It would take all day. Instead use a voice messaging system and have it done in minutes.
  • Saves money. Use the example above. How much would it cost you to pay for the staff to make all of those phone calls? Absolutely will save you money.

You want to keep a personal touch to everything you do and that’s an honorable goal. IVR’s and Voice Messaging actually allow you to do just that. Your staff and volunteers will have more time to deliver direct services to your clients, as opposed to spending time on administrative duties.

Look into IVR’s and voice messaging if your agency does not currently have them. You’ll find that they’ll save you time and money.