Categories
Uncategorized

15 Voice Prompt Blunders To Avoid in Your IVR System

When writing voice prompts for IVR or ACD systems, clear concise communication is key. The thing about a well structured call-processing system with properly recorded voice prompts is that you just don’t notice it. What you do notice, however, is a system that is riddled with problems and errors.To ensure you’re creating a great caller experience, be sure to avoid these 15 common blunders in your voice prompt scripts:

  1. Using the Word “dial.” True story: I have never “dialed” a phone. For my whole life, I’ve pressed buttons. Now, I press “buttons” on my touch-screen phone. Think about it–when was the last time you actually dialed a phone? If you are instructing callers to dial an extension, you should switch to the term “press,” otherwise you might seem outdated.
  2. Too many menu items. As a general rule, 3-5 items should be sufficient for each level of your menu. If you have more than that, callers may become confused, unengaged, and frustrated, making work harder for your reps.
  3. Not enough menu items. Too few menu options is also a problem. If you don’t give users enough options, they may not be sure which department is the right choice for them. 
  4. Putting the extension number before the name of the person/department. A good prompt will say, “For Sales, Press 1” not “Press 1 for Sales.” Why? Callers are listening for their destination first, then how to get there. If you play the extension first, they’re not likely to associate the number with the department.
  5. Forgetting to tell callers they can enter a known extension at any time. Many repeat callers will know which extension they need to use before hearing any of the options. They might have even looked it up on your website or seen it in your email signature. Make sure you remind these callers that they can enter an extension without listening to the prompts.
  6. Neglecting an exit option. You should let callers know that number they can use to immediately leave the system and speak to a live human (during business hours, of course). This works in two ways–first, callers immediately know that there is a “real human” who can talk to them. Second, if callers know they can leave the phone tree, they’ll be more receptive to listening to your prompts.
  7. Having a long greeting before prompts begin. Time spent with an IVR system isn’t the same as hold time.
  8. Using an unprofessional-sounding voice. Professional Voice Over Talents exist for a reason: people like to hear them.Your automated answering system might be the first impression callers have of your business. Why would you use staticy, improperly recorded announcements?
  9. Not having an “after hours” variation of your prompts. When your office is closed, you should have a prompt that lets people know this and encourages them to leave a message (with appropriate menu option) or call back during normal business hours (and give hours). An after hours greeting can also include emergency contact number or direct clients to a self-service option on your website.
  10. Repeating the word “please” in every prompt. In business, proper manners are essential. On your phone system, saying “please” with every prompt is redundant and irritating. Say “please” in the first prompt, then keep your options more streamlined for easy listening. Remember–you’re writing for the ear.
  11. Using long phrasing for each prompt. It’s a prompt, not a message. Keep it short and to the point so you don’t lose caller’s attention. Think of each prompt as a call to action. 
  12. Stating extension numbers as one number. If you’re saying “Two hundred three” instead of “Two Zero Three,” you’re making a grave error and potentially going to have a lot of confused callers. It’s not that people will be looking for the button “two hundred three” on their phone, it’s that they might here two and three and ignore the zero. Plus, doesn’t it sound weird to tell callers to “Press Two Hundred Three”?
  13. Including Jargon. Jargon got its name because people don’t understand it. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid jargon in your voice prompts to make the caller experience as painless as possible.
  14. Putting frequently requested options at the end of the menu. It just makes sense to put the most frequently requested options first. If you already know what people are looking for, you should aim to deliver it as quickly as possible and move them efficiently through the rest of your call processing.
  15. Lacking Consistency. If you use inconsistent phrasing for your prompts, you’re likely to confuse callers. By changing your word choice, the caller won’t be able to follow a predictable pattern. For example, you shouldn’t say, “For sales, press 1; To reach customer service, press 2; Press 3 for reservations.” It just doesn’t make sense. 

What do you think? Have you heard any voice prompts that have made you cringe? Would you add anything else to this list?

Categories
music overhead announcements small business

4 Audio Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

Small businesses working with limited resources are often overshadowed by competition from larger businesses with larger marketing budgets. And yet, small businesses need to outshine competitors and distinguish themselves from the rest, just like the big guys. So what to do? By incorporating affordable yet effective audio solutions such as Message On Hold, Overhead Announcements, Background Music, and Podcasts, small businesses can match their larger competitors when it comes to brand awareness, customer communication, and customer satisfaction.

Message on Hold

First impressions are extremely important to small businesses. The chances of your Message On Hold being a prospect’s first impression of your business is likely, therefore should be capitalized on. By incorporating a professional and informative hold message into your business’s marketing tactics you can enhance the perceived image of your brand.  And during call transfers and peak hours, an effective on hold message has the potential to decrease caller hang-ups and keep callers on the line longer, ready to do business.

Small Business Message On Hold Ideas:

  • Tell callers about current or upcoming sales.
  • Explain what makes your business unique from competitors.
  • Answer FAQ’s.
  • Announce time-sensitive information like upcoming events or limited time offers.
  • Introduce new products.
  • Provide alternate forms of communication like where callers can find you on social media.

Podcast

A podcast is another word for audio blog. Content is delivered in an interesting, informative message that packages content and personality. Providing your target audience with useful podcasts will increase the opportunity to build a following and reach your clients and prospects. Podcasts are extremely affordable and effective. The more creative and engaging you are, the better!

 Small Business Podcast Ideas:

  • Answer FAQ’s
  • Interview an industry expert
  • Give information on upcoming events, products, or services.
  • Turn your company newsletter into a podcast. Talk about what has been going on at your company.
  • Give listeners a set of tips about a particular topic related to your business.

Overhead Announcements

For retail stores, or businesses where customers are often physically present, overhead announcements are an effective marketing tool used to target the already captive audience–in-store or onsite customers. This particular audience is already interested in what your business offers, so overhead announcements serve as the perfect marketing opportunity to further engage them.

Small Business Overhead Announcements Ideas:

  • Promote new products or services.
  • Market a product or service that can potentially cause a significant financial gain or higher profit margin.
  • Business branding
  • Announce current or upcoming sales.
  •  Inform customers about your business hours, or holiday schedules.

Background Music

For retail stores, or certain types of businesses, background music can be a productive element. If overhead announcements are not appropriate for a retail store, music is still a viable and desirable option. Music triggers emotional responses. In a retail business setting, the emotional response can enhance the shopping experience. Background music should be chosen based on the theme of your store, and should fit the interests of customer demographics, and the products and services you offer.

Background Music Information:

  • If the customer likes the music your business is playing, they are more likely to stay in your store longer and come back more often.
  • Music played loudly and at a fast tempo with increase perceived time duration. If customers are waiting in line at the register or fitting rooms, the wait time may seem longer than it actually is.
  • Softer and slower music are responded to more positively than louder and faster music.
  • Rhythm and tempo have the greatest influence on shopper experience.

Small businesses can captivate and impress potential customers using these and other audio marketing strategies.  If it can be communicated via sight, the same message can probably be communicated through sound, either to reinforce or to reach people in a non-visual setting. With professionally produced audio messages you will reach and influence more potential customers, stand out from the competition, and help your small business grow.

Categories
IVR tips

Four Things To Avoid In Your IVR, Auto Attendant, and Voice Prompts

Voice prompt menus, IVR, and auto attendant greetings can be a helpful way to get more information to your customers. You can mention your business hours, current specials, a temporary store closing, or a charity drive that you’re going to be having in the near future. Since you may already have an idea about what you want to say on your phone script, here are a few things you will want to steer clear of:

  1. Too Many Options – It’s important to have enough options to cover the various departments you have for your customers to speak to, but you also want to keep in mind that listing too many on your automated menu can seem cluttered. The more you have listed, the more apt your are to have confused customers, and the more apt they are to end up in the wrong department anyway. If they don’t quite fit in with option one and keep listening for a better selection, but by option eight they’ve forgotten what option one even was, they may end up hitting any number just to speak to a representative. The whole point of these options is to get the customer to the right department the first time around, so make the choices clear and concise. Keep in mind who the callers are and what they tend to call for. The main menu should then be tailored to the needs of the caller.
  2. Cornering the Customer – When using an auto attendant always provide the option to speak to a representative. They may not have an account number available, or they may have questions about the information your menu is requesting from them. Allowing them to speak to a person can avoid unnecessary frustration for your customer. If they know that every time they call you they are going to end up frustrated before they can even talk to someone, they may begin to associate negative experiences with your company.
  3. Giving Outdated Information – Keeping the informaion contained with your phone script up-to-date is important to your customers. You won’t be wasting their time with out-dated information, which is always appreciated. Telling customers about the wrong hours of business, an outdated website, or a wrong address can be frustrating. Be sure if there are any changes in your company that you update the recordings accordingly. 
  4. Don’t Bury the Lead – The term “bury the lead” comes from journalism. In a news story, the “lead” is the first sentence, which concisely conveys the main point of the article. Same hold true for your phone system.  If 80% of your callers choose one option over the others, don’t bury that option in the list of choices.  Making the caller wade through other options is tidus and inefficient.  Order your menu choices in the priority which they are choosen.  Not sure which is choosen more?  As your administrator for a report, or stroll on down and talk to the agents.  They’ll let you know who’s calling and why.
  5. Your phone script should be clear, concise, up-to-date, and helpful. Customers generally call you because they are having an issue with something, and you don’t want to compound the problem — you want to solve it. Send the message to your customers that you consider their time as important as yours by never making them take longer on a phone call than necessary.
Categories
music presentations voice over

Taking Your Presentations To The Next Level With Audio and Voice

Our world has become increasingly more digitized and with that has come a greater focus on the visual. Whether on social media (Instagram) or home entertainment (TV’s with OLED and 4K technology)–we are used to being visually stimulated. Now your average company presentation, with its tired PowerPoint slides and 1980’s clip art just won’t cut it anymore.

Categories
virtual tour voice talent

Virtual Tour Audio

Though the virtual tour has been around for a long time, many individuals and businesses have not yet incorporated audio into their presentations. I have seen many virtual tours where you are given a full 360 panaromic view of a brightly colored living room or kitchen – with no voice over to serve as a guide. What could be an informative sales pitch turns into a virtual tour of a silent, almost haunted, house.

Categories
customer experience marketing

Walk in your Customer’s Shoes (and Listen to their Auto Attendant)

Categories
message on hold social media

Social Media – On Hold, Please!

social media, on hold, meditationYou wake up with a headache, you burn your toast, and your car is covered in snow. On days like these, how do you keep your spirits up? How do you maintain the passion for your craft throughout the work day?

Categories
customer experience marketing message on hold

On Hold Experiment

Holdcom was recently involved in a fantastic customer service experiment. One of our long time clients hadn’t updated their message on hold program in over a year. Since the majority of their callers were return customers, they were curious whether their customers listened to the message or “tuned out” while waiting on hold.

Categories
customer experience message on hold

The MOH Client Relations Trade Secret

Experience tells us day in and day out that “there is no magic word,” no abracadabra or panacea to solve our troubles; we must rely on hard work and dedication to overcome life’s obstacles.

Categories
e-learning voice talent

eTraining

Another emerging market for Holdcom is eTraining, also known as virtual learning or just-in-time training. Holdcom supplies voices and scripts for professional businesses that need their staff to learn something new, and fast: for example, updated software or a novel technology.

Senior Script Consultant Rob Lefever created several “script tips” for a successful eTraining program. It is important to “understand your objective and know your audience. Keep the focus of your script – a good way to do this is to put yourself in their shoes, and don’t assume they know everything you know.”

Another important factor of eTraining is “keeping it simple. An eTraining script should be easy for a voiceover to record…keep it concise and to the point. Don’t forget that an important area of eTraining is situational comparisons: you want to teach them the right and wrong ways to deal with a problem so they’ll know exactly what to do and not to do.”

With more people taking courses online, eTraining will become vital to securing a company’s future.

As a side note, this is a fun “eTraining” video where a fictional character named Donny teaches his youtube followers how to “properly” use Photoshop. It’s called “You Suck at Photoshop” for a reason – he insults the viewer constantly and often breaks into rants about his ex-wife who left him, his terrible job, and more a la Office Space. It is hilarious and also very informative – it uses all the proper eTraining techniques, such as showing examples, knowing your audience, and holding the viewer’s attention.