When a potential customer hears your business’s telephone message, it could be the first glimpse of the service you provide, and the culture behind it.
First impressions matter a great deal. Will they get the information they need to make this call the starting point for a high quality interaction; or will they get a badly recorded voice and a long list of irrelevant options? The latter could potentially lead to customers feeling anxious and irritated. An instant turn-off.
IVR messages are a crucial part of your business and we’ve written this short guide to help you perfect it.
What Is an IVR Message?
Most people are familiar with using an IVR but may not be aware this is what it’s called. IVR stands for ‘Interactive Voice Response’ and it is a widespread technology that allows callers to use their voice or keypad to interact with a computer. It essentially works in the same way as a flow chart where a certain response will take them to a specific next step.
IVR technology is used to carry out high numbers of daily transactions and to obtain information without the need for human intervention. The phone messages are commonly used by companies such as call centres, airlines, utilities and banks.
Any organisation that gets a large volume of calls most likely has an IVR in place. It allows customers to carry out transactions 24/7 and speeds up the call by directing the caller to the right department.
The increasing affordability of this technology also means that it is no longer limited to large businesses with huge budgets.
Great care must be taken with how the messages are written and the voice used, otherwise callers can get frustrated and view it as a hindrance rather than a help.
The video below is a demonstration on how an IVR call can work.
Why Your Message Is So Important
Your telephone message is vitally important for a number of reasons.
We get a first impression of someone we meet in just 1/10 of a second and we can also very quickly gauge how a company treats its customers by the way they process our phone call at the first point of contact.
A massive 83% of customers avoid a company following a bad experience with its automated answering service.
On the other hand, a clear and concise message will guide callers seamlessly. It is also worth bearing in mind that waiting on a human operator for more than 6 minutes is bad for their health as well as for your business.
Who Records Telephone Messages?
Who it is that records all of these voice prompts that companies use? Do members of staff do it or are there IVR experts who make these recordings for all of the companies in the world?
Voice over artists are the ones who record these telephone messages. After the decisions have been made on who to cast and their availability the session can then begin. The voice artist are provided with scripts containing various voice prompts that will be recorded in a professional studio. These recordings are then edited by an Sound Engineer to clean the audio and organise the files in order to deliver them in the format the client requires.
How Much Does an IVR Cost?
The cost of a professional telephone message can depend on a few factors:
- How many voice actors are required
- How many languages are required
- How many messages need to be recorded
You will find that a lot of voice over agencies charge per hour of studio time. This means it’s more cost-effective to have all your messaged approved and ready to record in one session rather than recording at different stages.
Typically for telephone prompts, we can record 1,000 – 1,500 words of voice-over in a one hour recording session, which totals up to around 10-15 minutes of audio. The number of prompts (messages) to be recorded effects the editing time. We need one hour per 40 messages to edit.
Prices start at £50 for a single telephone message. If you have a full IVR to record, we recommend booking a one hour session and the price will vary between £150 – £500 depending on the voice selected and the level of service required.
We’re keen to make IVR voice recording more affordable for small-medium businesses and we’d be delighted to hear from you.
What Your IVR Needs
If you are managing the voice prompts you should stop and check at each stage of the process to ensure the points below comply. In every case your voice prompts should be:
- Professional. Virtually all of the companies that use IVR messages use a voice that transmits their professional attitude and some degree of authority.
- Clear. Callers will get frustrated and hang up if they can’t make out the words clearly. Alternatively, they might get confused and press the wrong option. You need a clear voice that can be understood by everyone.
- Concise. Don’t make the messages too complicated or lengthy, again this will overwhelm callers. This can lead to dropped calls and lost business.
- Consistent. One of the biggest issues that companies can run into is a lack of consistency. Different voices, different tones and even different recording speeds can lead to confusion and a poor service
- A steady speed. You can’t forget that while humans can speak up to 175 words per minute, most of us are far slower than this at typing. It can be hard to keep up with instructions received rapidly over the phone.
What to Look for in Your IVR Recording Artist
There are a number of factors that can make a recording artist perfect for your IVR messages.
- The right voice for your industry. What gender, age and style of delivery do you need for your company? If you aren’t sure then a professional voice over agency can give you suggestions and options based on their previous experience.
- A long term commitment. You may need to update your messages numerous times in the future, to deal with process changes, new legislation and other factors. Therefore, it is vital that you select a voice artist that is committed and available for at least a couple of years.
- Consistent pricing and service. A big advantage when using an agency is that you get the same service at the same price each time. There is no risk of discovering that future updates are going to be more expensive or of a different quality.
What the Future Holds: Build a Branded AI Personality
Finally, the future looks exciting for this sort of technology. Huge improvements are being made in artificial intelligence currently. Our opinion as a voice over agency, is that each company will soon have their own branded Artificial Intelligence personality that customers can get to know and trust.
Having a consistent voice that is right for the company is going to be essential in this aspect. Customers will feel that they are having a genuine conversation and engaging with the business rather than listening to a machine.
This is going to involve recording far more words and phrases to allow for complex interactions, even for small and mid-sized companies. When this is done using the high standards mentioned previously it will give a wonderfully rich and consistent service that customers can enjoy as well as have complete confidence in.
Rather than seeing the recording of your phone message as being a nuisance or something to get out of the way, you should look at this as an opportunity instead. With a top class recording you will add a great deal of quality to your interactions with your clients now and in the future.
Go about it in the right way and this will enhance your brand while making life a lot easier for everyone who deals with you.
We asked our Sales & Marketing Director Alistair Langfield about his experience with producing phone prompts over the last 15 years and his thoughts on the future of the IVR business. Read more here.