Interactive voice response hosting (IVR hosting) is one of the more recent advances in customer-facing marketing touch point technology. IVR hosting solutions blend computer programming and basic call center functions into an automated, cost effective system that will allow you to both push and pull information to and from your customers. A number of different activities fall under the umbrella of IVR hosting, but at their most fundamental, interactive voice response hosting solutions let customers and potential customers call a phone number and interact with your company. What the customer hears differs based on your needs and the capabilities of IVR hosting service providers. Typically, IVR hosting products include: Taking a poll using IVR hosting services Giving a list of locations near the caller Hearing a prerecorded message Placing an order Some IVR hosting solutions will also make warm transfers (transferring the call to a live call center representative), marketing campaign planning, and a host of reporting solutions. The choice of interactive voice response hosting services is not something that should be taken lightly, as an effective IVR hosting service can make or break the success of a marketing campaign. Consider these actions steps as you review IVR hosting service providers. Compile a list of companies with IVR hosting systems This is a fairly easy task. Many companies claim to have interactive voice response hosting services. At this stage, make a good list of potential hosted IVR solutions providers. These providers offer different approaches to IVR hosting. Only with a good list can the best choice be made. Consider IVR hosting services companies that offer VoiceML support VoiceML is a programming technology that offers easy integration between IVR hosting products and other applications. This may not sound important, especially if you are new to IVR hosting or do not plan on having custom software development. Still, VoiceML can be important at a later date when you want to have your IVR hosting solutions connect to other applications or if you decide to switch IVR hosting. VoiceML can make it easy to transfer data from the old company to the new. Make sure any hosted IVR solutions have good international support Telephony laws and what is considered proper phone etiquette vary country to country. If you know you need to support one or more countries other than your own, talk with potential IVR hosting companies to make sure they understand the legalities and customs of those countries. Never forget business longevity when choosing an IVR hosting solution provider. IVR hosting technologies are not cheap and only businesses that have been around for a while or have a good influx of cash can afford top-of-the-line equipment. Consider companies that offer features other than just IVR hosting. Companies like Protocol offer many marketing services, not just IVR hosting and call center support. IVR hosting is not a replacement for live customer service. Make sure that as you plan your IVR campaigns, you take good customer service into account and have people available to answer questions.