The following post from GM Voices is part of our partner blog-post-sharing series to provide new viewpoints and insight into, and within, the contact center industry.
Many buyers first experience a company through the voice channel. In today’s marketplace, the phone (along with the Web) is your business’ modern-day “front door”. (Since you’re currently reading an inContact blog entry, perhaps this is no great revelation!)
Every time you pick up the phone and “answer the door” your brand is on the line. A great customer experience over the voice channel typically depends on two co-dependent factors—the technology side and the human touch. If you’re using inContact’s IVR solution, you’ve already won half the battle. On the other side, it’s essential that the prerecorded voice representing that application is clear, friendly and professional. The voice should accurately represent your brand and encourages your caller to complete a goal, whether it’s an automated resolution or a successful menu navigation that leads to a buying decision with one of your (live) team members.
Your best option for greeting and guiding your callers (and achieving the fastest ROI on your speech technology investment) is a professional voice actor managed by a provider specializing in IVR recording. This post explains why by contrasting that route against the alternatives.
Choosing an IVR Voice: Avoid the Extremes
When it comes to IVR voice selection, many companies choose one of two opposite extremes—an internal voice or an unnatural “radio announcer” voice. Be discerning and find the true pros.
An internal voice is just that—an employee of the company, usually an admin or engineer. They may or may not have a good voice, but the recordings are usually poor for technical reasons. The voice prompts are often recorded over a handset in a cubicle, so there may be ambient noise, inconsistent volume and other irregularities that encourage errors, “zero-outs” and general caller dissatisfaction.
The PM Drive-Time Jock
At the other end of the spectrum is the radio announcer voice. What works in a high-energy promo often does not translate to the phone. This style is characterized by cheesy over-enunciation that sounds unnatural. This choice is often the result of a stakeholder misinterpretation of what they think the caller wants to hear. In reality, this type of voice is patronizing and annoying to your audience.
The Voice Actor
A professional voice actor, particularly one versed in IVR recording, speaks smoothly and clearly in a pace and style that makes sense to customers. A voice actor can take direction, can alter their sound to fit the brand, and can deliver with consistency over continuous IVR updates in the months (and years) to come. It can be challenging to articulate this quality in text, but “you know it when you see hear it.”
Choosing a Voice Provider: Not Too Big, Not Too Small
For the best customer experience, it’s important to align your organization with a provider that knows the contact channel and associated technology.
An Independent Voice-Over Artist
Choosing a voice can be a subjective process. You either like a sound or you don’t. Some independent recording professionals may have a sound you really like. However, this option means it’s your responsibility to manage the business relationship, navigate any potential pay or working disputes, establish a schedule for recording (not to mention editing), and implement a delivery and file-naming process. This is not your priority, and if anything happens to the talent, you risk re-recording your application or dealing with mismatched voices.
A Large Studio or Creative Agency
There are several large agencies that broker voice actor relationships and handle recordings. Their expertise is usually centered on highly-creative broadcast ads and not multi-message, technical IVR scripts. You’ll pay a premium for these one-off projects, and there is no guarantee the voice actor or studio will be able to deliver on demand when it’s time for updates.
An IVR-Focused Voice Provider
There are a small handful of recording studios specifically focused in the telephony space. These companies maintain a roster of voice actors contracted for long-term availability, offer multi-language support, and handle every aspect of voice production, from scripting, recording, editing and streamlined delivery. Their economies of scale and recording schedule ensure that any menu changes can be accommodated quickly and economically. Choose this route for the ongoing quality of your IVR.
For a deeper dive into voice selection, creating a brand-consistent voice persona, and ensuring your recorded voice prompts deliver an exceptional experience, please consult these white papers from GM Voices.