Podcasts & Videos
Podcasts & Videos

CX Series: Sounding Off on Voices for IVR & Contact Centers

While Web, chat, SMS, and social media have joined the front lines as essential communication channels of the customer experience, two-thirds of consumers still call companies when they’re ready to buy or need (self-)service*. And while most would prefer their call be answered by a live agent, it’s not practical. Enter IVR (interactive voice response) and automated contact center applications. As maligned as they are prevalent, it’s essential that companies deliver a satisfying caller experience, and your customers’ first impression of your CX is the voice that greets and guides your customers.

*Source: State of the Mobile Experience, Invoca

How Does Voice Quality Factor in All of This?

When a customer picks up the phone, your entire brand is encapsulated by the sound and experience they get through their speaker. If the audio quality is poor, or the voice doesn’t sound like the brand, your business risks higher abandon rates, more ‘zero-outs’ to CSRs, agitated customers, even a decline in revenue.

But done correctly with an experienced voice provider, IVR systems can help businesses effectively manage headcount, satisfy callers, and uphold the reputation of the brand.

Doing Voice the Right Way: Your FAQs Answered

Say you’re sold on using professional voice on your IVR. There are still some things to keep in mind. We asked our Director of Marketing, Enterprise to weigh in on some frequently asked questions, applying nearly 15 years of experience in helping brands better humanize their IVR and customer-facing voice technologies.

What is Voice Branding for IVR?

When a customer calls a company and the automated voice is in inconsistent with the brand, it creates a jarring experience that negatively affects the business. Here’s how BLEND helps companies avoid that pitfall.

We look at the brand’s touchpoints and create a fictional persona outline that helps our auditioning voice actors become the brand in studio… it’s a project that can be as streamlined or comprehensive as the budget and implementation date requires.

Why Are Most ‘IVR Voices’ Women?

Either from the onset of a voice recording project or after reviewing a wide range of auditions, most businesses choose a female voice to represent their brand on IVR and automated voice applications. Here’s why.

Women’s voices are more often described as sounding empathetic and caring, very useful qualities when someone dials a company and reaches an automated voice and not a real person.

Why Are Celebrity Voices a Bad Idea?

Sometimes jokingly, other times completely seriously, a company will ask if they can record their IVR with an A-list celebrity. It’s not plausible for many economic and logistical reasons.

What works on a 30-second TV commercial isn’t effective when you’re on the phone for five minutes or longer. Your caller is trying to solve an issue, make a purchase, or self-serve, and you don’t want to introduce a distracting element that prolongs or prevents that. 

Should I Use a Human or AI Voice?

AI is changing how businesses operate and communicate, and the implications are particularly interesting within the contact center space. But when it comes to voice prompt recording for IVR, are human and AI voices truly opposed to each other?

There are advantages and disadvantages to AI voice, but those are clearer in other media and use cases. IVR kind of occupies this gray area where human voice and AI voice are less adversarial and can be used very effectively in tandem. 

What Languages Do I Need (in North America)?

IVR localization doesn’t just apply to your international markets. You have customers who would prefer to engage with their first language in North America. And it makes a lot of business sense for you to provide that option with the same quality and attention to detail as your English-language caller experience.

You may think you can get by with only an English-language customer experience—whether it’s your phone system, website or support. That’s not the case if you want to grow in your domestic market, let alone internationally.

Why Do Most IVR Systems Sound Bad?

Maintaining an IVR is a lot of work. Over years of updates, companies can lose control of the quality it had at first deployment.

IVR systems are updated many times over their lifespan, so the voice prompts are often mismatched in terms of volume, intonation, and sometimes even the voice itself, and that creates a jarring experience for callers. 

How BLEND Can Help

Looking to deploy or update your IVR or contact center application? BLEND Voice offers specialized recording services for every technology and platform provider while maintaining an active roster of 1,500 voice actors in 120 languages.

Listen to samples and contact us today to discuss your voice, language, and timeline requirements for you next telephony project!

author post

Corinne Sharabi

Corinne is the Social Media and Content Lead at BLEND. She is dedicated to keeping global business professionals up to date on all things localization, translation, language and culture.


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