Published 31st of May 2018
Author Lisa Hartwell
Choosing the Voice of Your IVR System
You’ve chosen the best IVR system and software for your needs, you’ve spent hours deliberating over how calls will flow within the system so that callers can reach the solution they need quickly and easily, and you’ve edited and re-edited scripts to ensure all the instructions are clear and comprehensive, removing ambiguity and guiding callers appropriately. That just leaves choosing the voice of your IVR system, so the prompts can be recorded and uploaded, and you can make your system “live”.
Many people have good speaking voices, you even have some in your office, so finding one to record your IVR prompts should be a quick and simply process, right?
Wrong! This step is as important as those that have gone before it – perhaps more important – because your choice of a voice can have a huge impact on the efficiency of your IVR system and reflect on your business. If you’ve never given much thought to how your business sounds, take a look at this article on audio branding for a better understanding of its importance in your marketing, PR and customer service.
Voice must be one that callers are happy to listen to again and again
This means no strong accents (but a mild accent can be good especially if your customers are likely to have the same one), no internal voices (see below) and no over-the-top, extreme voices. A clear, natural voice that reflects your brand in their delivery style – whether corporate, relaxed, youthful or compassionate – should be your goal.
Voice must be clear and understandable
The temptation is to find the person in your office with the best voice and use them to record your IVR system. Unfortunately, a good voice does not necessarily make for a user-friendly customer experience. A professional voiceover can provide far more than just a clear voice. They know how to pace a script, how to read without sounding as if they’re reading, communicate as if they are talking directly to one person, stress the right words and information, add “colour” and, as mentioned above, deliver your IVR script in a style that matches your brand requirements.
Recordings should be professionally produced and encoded
In order for your final IVR recording to sound clear to the caller you have to start with a good quality recording. This means choosing a professional voice who uses professional equipment. An internal voice (or any voice that records directly into the telephone handset) is likely to come across as muffled, indistinct at times, and have inconsistent sound levels – all things that will frustrate your callers.
After the audio has been recorded, it should then be edited into individual prompts. Again, this is best done by a professional producer who can ensure any loud breaths, lip smacks and other vocal clicks and whistles (they happen, even for professionals) are removed and audio is consistent in sound levels, trimming (amount of silence at the beginning and end of a prompt) and naming conventions (so the prompts end up in the right places on your system).
The final step is encoding each prompt properly to your IVR system requirements. Even the best audio will sound terrible on your phone line if this step isn’t done properly. If your system provider starts using words like a-law, u-law, and sample rates, this is what they are referring to – each system has different requirements.
Choosing the voice of your IVR system is a bit more complicated than deciding whether you want a male or female and finding somebody with a clear voice. But, the right voice will make a big difference to your customers’ IVR experience and the way your business is perceived by callers, so take the time to make the right choice.
Fresh Air Group can help with every aspect of your IVR recordings, from advice on efficient call flows to professional scriptwriting, production and encoding. We can source the best voiceover artists from around the world (including native foreign language voices) – give us a call on +44 (0)20 7100 7986, tell us your requirements and we’ll gather a selection of voices for you to choose from.