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The menus that IVRS can provide are either voice enabled or DTMF enabled. Now what does that mean?

  • In a voice enabled IVRS, caller will have to choose his required menu option by speaking out a word or a phrase as if he is talking to a human! IVR is supposed to recognize his speech and provide him required information as per his choice!
  • In a DTMF enabled IVRS, caller has to press a button on the keypad of his telephone instrument or mobile phone( Dude, where is my button on my iPhone 3G phone ?). DTMF stands Dual Tone Multiple Frequencies! It is in-band signaling ( meaning it’s a signaling that works in voice band, 300Hz to 3400Hz). So when you press a button or a key on your telephone instrument, you produce a DTMF, remember you get to hear a sound whenever you press a key? You are producing a DTMF corresponding to the number of the key. This number is detected by IVRS and provides you with your desired information.

Well, you can definitely have a hybrid menu using both the methods!

Now that you know availability of two kinds of menus, are you in fix to decide which one to choose for your IVRS ? Here I am, I am listing out the advantage and disadvantage of both the menu system. And I will also give you thumbs rule for choosing menu.

Here are the advantages of having voice or speech enabled menu

  • Big advantage for Mobile users. Its much easier just to speak out the menu since mobile phones are small to press buttons! You need to listen the menu, bring it in front to look the screen, press the button, then again put the phone in your ear!
  • Unlimited and user-friendly menu options.
  • Easy menu browsing. One can jump from one menu to the other easily.
  • Simple speech, no jargon of learning tone dialing, pulse dialing or DTMF key.

Here are disadvantages

  • ASR ( Automatic Speech recognition) does not work successfully in every condition. It may not work in noisy conditions, weak signal, disturbance on lines.
  • It might irritate many people for making them to talk to a machine. And then its not easy to talk some phrases or words like a conversation.

Advantages of DTMF based menu

  • Ease of use in case of landline and while people using a hands-free for mobile.
  • Widely known and trained standard. Almost everyone now a days know about tone dialing or using IVRS by pressing keys.
  • Very reliable as the DTMF signals does not get distorted even while speaking simultaneously.
  • Easy to develop and commission. Faster response by IVRS.


  • Finding keys may be difficult as per menu prompts, specially for new mobile phones with touch pad only keys.
  • Many people does not understand pulse dialing, tone dialing, hash buttons, star button etc.


So, over all, having DTMF is better where your target user of the IVRS is more and come from diverse background. If you are expecting educated, tech-savvy clients to dial your IVRS, give the ‘xing’ thing, Voice based menu!

Over all its recommended that DTMF be used and Voice based menu should be used as alternative of DTMF based menu. So, hybrid menu options can be chosen. For IVRS using as VAS(Value Added Service) or Voice Portal, having Hybrid Menu has become essential.

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Abhishek Mittal August 30, 2008, 8:43 am

    Language is so easy to understand and fluent also! I eagerly wait daily for new post. In starting, number of posts can be increased. For a knowledge hunger person, only one post daily is little. Isn’t it ?

  • Trupti Mastud July 10, 2009, 11:07 am

    Its really indeed to understand the technical words but u people really made it easy by using the simple words in the article & also hope will get to learn something new everyday from u people thanxs

  • BerylS March 23, 2012, 8:02 pm

    For these purposes I can recommend Ozeki VoIP SIP SDK, all the needed functions can be created easily. Check it for reference and for sample sources: http://www.voip-sip-sdk.com/p_117-c-sharp-dtmf-ivr-implementation-voip.html

    The support team is also responsive, I am sure everyone with the same questions will get answers.


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