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call center IVR message on hold phone menu prompts voip

Unlocking the Full Potential of Your Phone System by Embracing the Cloud

Since the early 2000s, cloud-based phone systems, also known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solutions, started to gain traction in the business world, as the widespread adoption of high-speed internet and advancements in technology facilitated the shift from traditional on-premise landline systems to more dynamic, scalable, and cost-efficient cloud-based alternatives. 

Today, cloud-based VoIP platforms have become the norm, offering a host of advanced features and flexibility that traditional landline systems simply cannot match. While many companies have embraced this change, the question remains: Are they truly unlocking the full potential of this technology? 

The Untapped Potential of Cloud-Based Phone Systems 

Cloud-based solutions are more than just a replacement for traditional on-premise phone systems. They are a gateway to a whole new world of possibilities for enhancing your business communication. Whether you want to improve caller experience, increase customer satisfaction, or boost productivity, VoIP systems have the features you need to achieve your goals.  

Let’s explore some of the most powerful features that cloud-based phone systems offer, and how they will benefit your business. 

Auto Attendant:  

The auto attendant feature allows you to create a customized menu that greets callers with a professional voice and guides them to the right extension or department. You can also set up different menus for different times of the day, such as business hours, after hours, or holidays. This ensures that your callers always receive a professional and consistent welcome, and that they can reach their desired destination without any difficulty. 

Call Recording:  

This feature enables you to record and store any inbound or outbound calls for quality assurance, training, or compliance purposes. You can also access and manage your recordings from any device, anywhere, anytime. Call recording can help you monitor and improve your staff performance, resolve disputes, and comply with industry regulations. 

Call Analytics:  

The call analytics feature allows you to track and measure various aspects of your calls, such as volume, duration, origin, destination, and outcome. You can also generate reports and graphs that show trends and patterns over time. Call analytics can help you optimize your call flow, identify issues and opportunities, and make data-driven decisions. 

Voicemail-to-Email:  

Voicemail-to-Email enables you to receive your voicemail messages as email attachments, so you can listen to them on any device, at any time. You can also read the transcriptions of your messages if you prefer. This feature will help you stay connected and responsive to your callers, even when you are away from your phone. 

Interactive Voice Response (IVR):  

IVR is a pivotal feature in cloud-based phone systems, offering efficiency and versatility. Enabling callers to navigate prompts and menus for self-service, IVR streamlines call routing and reduces the workload on live agents. In the cloud environment, IVR becomes even more dynamic, allowing easy customization, scalability, and integration with other applications. It plays a central role in enhancing customer interactions, optimizing workflow efficiency, and contributing to a positive caller experience. 

Conference Calling:  

Conference calling allows you to host or join audio or video conferences with multiple participants from anywhere in the world. You can also share your screen, files, or presentations with your attendees. Conference calling can help you collaborate with your team members, partners, or clients more effectively and conveniently. 

Call Forwarding: 

Call forwarding allows you to redirect incoming calls to another phone number or device of your choice. You can also set up rules for when and how to forward calls based on various criteria such as caller ID, time of day, or availability. Call forwarding will help you never miss an important call again. 

Integration: 

Integration is a key strength of cloud-based phone systems, offering seamless compatibility with various business tools, most notably Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. By integrating with CRMs and other business tools, your cloud-based phone system enables a more efficient and streamlined workflow, empowering your teams and contributing to the overall success of your business operations. 

Hold Music and Messages:  

This feature allows you to play music and messages while your callers are on hold or in a queue. Your audio marketing provider can offer you a variety of musical genres to choose from and will handle every aspect of producing a Message-On-Hold program that strategically informs callers about your products, services, promotions, events, and more. This feature will help reduce caller frustration, increase retention, and generate sales. 

Softphones: 

Eliminating the need for traditional hardware phones, Softphones offer users the flexibility to make calls from computers or mobile devices. In the cloud environment, these software applications integrate voice, video, and chat functionalities, fostering unified communications and promoting collaboration. Softphones enhance productivity, support remote work, and provide cost-effective communication solutions, showcasing the adaptability and innovation of cloud-based phone systems in modern business communication. 

Embracing the Cloud with Professional Recordings 

Contemplating the array of features offered by cloud-based phone systems and determining how to best leverage them for your business can be an overwhelming process. Recognizing the importance of seamless communication, Holdcom is here to support you. Our professional recording services cater to business phone systems in any language, ensuring your brand’s identity and tone are accurately represented. Whether it’s recordings for your auto attendant, hold music for phone queues, Message-On-Hold, or any other audio feature you require, we’ll help you create a communication system that not only impresses your callers but also contributes to the growth of your business. Consider the possibilities, explore the potential, and enhance your communication experience as you embrace the benefits of VoIP technology. 

Key Takeaways 

  • Cloud-based VoIP solutions go beyond merely replacing traditional landline systems. They unlock a realm of possibilities for maximizing business communication with features to improve caller experience, increase customer satisfaction, and enhance efficiency. 
  • Key capabilities such as auto attendants and IVR, call recording, analytics, voicemail transcription, and conferencing can optimize workflows, boost productivity, and enhance the customer experience. 
  • Seamless integration with CRM software and other business tools creates unified systems that streamline operations. 
  • Flexible audio features like hold music, Message-On-Hold, and softphones further adapt cloud platforms to an organization’s specific needs and foster improved engagement. 
  • Professional voice recording services help ensure branding and tone are conveyed accurately across all aspects of the phone system. 
  • Cloud-based phone systems bring tremendous potential when tapped into fully. By utilizing everything modern VoIP platforms have to offer, companies can empower their staff with streamlined workflows, optimize how they interact with their customers, and significantly drive increased sales. 

FAQs 

Q1: How do cloud-based phone systems differ from traditional landline phone systems? 

A1: Cloud-based phone systems differ significantly from traditional landline systems by operating over the internet, utilizing remote servers in the cloud, and eliminating the reliance on physical infrastructure and copper wires. This shift allows for enhanced scalability, flexibility, and advanced features. Unlike landline systems limited to specific locations, cloud-based solutions empower users to make calls from anywhere with an internet connection. Additionally, the subscription-based model of cloud systems reduces upfront costs associated with hardware, making them a preferred choice for businesses seeking agility, affordability, and modern communication features. 

Q2: Are cloud phone systems and VoIP the same thing? 

A2: While the terms “cloud-based” and “VoIP” are often used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same. VoIP is a broader technology that enables voice communication over the internet, and it can be implemented both on-premise and in the cloud. On the other hand, cloud phone systems specifically operate in a cloud environment, utilizing remote servers managed by third-party providers. While VoIP encompasses various methods of transmitting voice data over the internet, including on-premise solutions, cloud phone systems exclusively rely on cloud infrastructure, offering enhanced flexibility, scalability, and often additional advanced features. In summary, all cloud phone systems are VoIP, but not all VoIP systems operate in the cloud; they represent different points on the spectrum of internet-based voice communication technologies. 

Q3: What are some signs my business could benefit from upgrading to a cloud-based platform? 

A3: Indicators include communication bottlenecks, decreasing customer satisfaction, limited remote work capabilities, and lack of actionable insights from call data. Scalability limitations and rising maintenance costs for outdated on-premise systems also show a need for change. 

Q4: How can businesses take full advantage of their cloud-based phone system features? 

A4: To tap into the immense potential of your cloud phone system, approach implementation with a strategic eye – audit your workflows, identify pain points in communications and operations, survey customer experience challenges, and evaluate growth goals. Match advanced features like auto attendants and IVR, call monitoring, conferencing, Message-On-Hold, and CRM integration to address these specific problems and opportunities. Continually optimize call routing, menus, and audio messaging while leveraging reporting to track impact. Keep exploring possibilities as new needs arise, taking advantage of the system’s scalability. With concerted effort, maximizing platform capabilities for your unique business will provide transformative results. 

Q5: What security measures are in place for cloud-based phone systems? 

A5: Security is a paramount concern for cloud-based phone systems. Providers implement encryption protocols to safeguard call data and employ secure data centers with strict access controls. Regular security audits, updates, and compliance with industry standards ensure a robust defense against potential threats. Additionally, user authentication features and role-based access controls contribute to overall system security, providing businesses with a secure communication environment. 

Q6: Can I customize the auto attendant and hold messages on my cloud-based system to align with my brand’s tone? 

A6: Absolutely. Cloud-based phone systems offer the flexibility to customize auto attendant and hold messages to align with your brand’s identity and tone. Your audio marketing provider will assist you in choosing a professional voice and craft personalized scripts for various menus and hold queues. This customization ensures that your callers receive a consistent and branded experience, contributing to a positive impression of your business. 

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file formats IVR phone menu prompts

Navigating the Maze of IVR Script and Audio File Archiving: A Guide for Businesses 

With all the alterations a business phone system encounters over time, maintaining control over Interactive Voice Response (IVR) scripts and audio files can feel like navigating through a maze. When various departments are involved in updates and modifications, and systems aren’t properly integrated with back-office files, the task of organizing and archiving these vital elements can quickly become overwhelming. At Holdcom, we recognize this challenge all too well. As a premier provider of professional recordings for business phone systems, we’ve witnessed firsthand how the revision history of an IVR can spiral into confusion. 

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the significance of establishing an internal file archiving system. Not only does this practice prevent the misplacement of files and confusion regarding current IVR content, but it also furnishes new hires with a comprehensive history of the system’s evolution. Let’s explore the process of setting up an efficient and effective archiving system for your business, along with practical tips for implementation. 

Why File Archiving Matters 

Before we dive into the “how,” let’s first understand the “why.” The importance of file archiving for IVR scripts and audio files cannot be overstated. Consider the following scenarios: 

  1. Compliance and Legal Requirements: Many industries, such as healthcare and finance, have stringent regulations governing communications. Archiving IVR scripts and audio files ensures compliance with legal requirements and facilitates audits if necessary. 
  1. Consistency in Brand Messaging: Your IVR is often the first point of contact for customers. Consistency in brand messaging across all touchpoints is essential for building trust and credibility. An organized archiving system helps maintain this consistency by ensuring that outdated or inaccurate information doesn’t linger in the system. 
  1. Efficient Updates and Maintenance: With a clear record of past revisions, updating IVR scripts becomes more efficient. Teams can easily track changes, identify errors, and implement improvements without wasting time searching for the latest version. 
  1. Training and Onboarding: A well-documented archive serves as a valuable resource for training new employees. Instead of relying solely on tribal knowledge, newcomers can reference both current and previous scripts and audio files to understand the company’s communication standards and practices. 

Establishing an Efficient Archiving System 

Now that we understand the importance of file archiving, let’s discuss how businesses can establish an efficient system: 

  1. Centralized Storage: Create a centralized repository for storing IVR scripts and audio files. This could be a dedicated folder on your company’s server or a cloud-based storage solution. Ensure that all relevant stakeholders have access to this repository. 
  1. Version Control: Implement version control mechanisms to track changes to IVR scripts and audio files. Assign unique version numbers or timestamps to each revision and maintain a log of revisions for reference. 
  1. Naming Conventions: Develop clear and consistent naming conventions for files. Include relevant information such as the date of creation, author, and purpose of the file. This makes it easier to search for specific files and understand their context. 
  1. Documentation: Document the archiving process and guidelines for updating IVR scripts. Provide instructions on how to access the archive, make edits, and submit changes for review. Regularly review and update documentation to ensure it remains current. 
  1. Regular Audits: Conduct regular audits of the archive to ensure its accuracy and completeness. Remove obsolete files and update metadata as needed. Consider automating this process where possible to streamline maintenance. 
  1. Training and Awareness: Educate employees about the importance of file archiving and how to use the archive effectively. Offer training sessions or create informational resources to help teams understand their roles and responsibilities regarding IVR script management. 

Conclusion 

When it comes to the complexities of business phone systems, effective management of your IVR scripts and audio files is of the utmost importance. By establishing an efficient archiving system, businesses can ensure compliance, consistency, and efficiency in their communications. Remember, the key to success lies in centralization, version control, clear documentation, and regular maintenance. With these practices in place, navigating the maze of IVR script and audio file archiving becomes a manageable task, empowering businesses to deliver exceptional customer experiences with confidence. 

Key Takeaways: 

  1. Compliance and Consistency: Archiving IVR scripts and audio files ensures compliance with legal requirements and maintains consistency in brand messaging, which is crucial for building trust and credibility with customers. 
  1. Efficiency in Updates and Maintenance: A well-organized archiving system facilitates efficient updates to IVR scripts, allowing teams to track changes, identify errors, and implement improvements without wasting time searching for the latest version. 
  1. Training and Onboarding: A documented archive serves as a valuable resource for training new employees, providing them with a comprehensive history of the company’s communication standards and practices. 
  1. Establishing an Efficient System: Businesses can establish an efficient archiving system by centralizing storage, implementing version control, using clear naming conventions, documenting processes, conducting regular audits, and providing training and awareness to employees. 
  1. Importance of Management: Effective management of IVR scripts and audio files is paramount in the complex landscape of business phone systems. By prioritizing organization and maintenance, businesses can ensure compliance, consistency, and efficiency in their communications, ultimately delivering exceptional customer experiences with confidence. 

FAQs: 

1. Why is it important to archive IVR scripts and audio files?  

Archiving IVR scripts and audio files is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it ensures compliance with legal requirements in regulated industries such as healthcare and finance. Additionally, it helps maintain consistency in brand messaging, facilitates efficient updates and maintenance, and serves as a valuable resource for training new employees. 

2. What are the key challenges businesses face in managing IVR scripts and audio files?

Businesses often encounter challenges such as decentralized storage, lack of version control, unclear naming conventions, inadequate documentation, and the need for regular audits. These challenges can lead to confusion, inefficiency, and compliance risks. 

3. How can businesses establish an efficient archiving system for IVR scripts and audio files?  

To establish an efficient archiving system, businesses should centralize storage, implement version control mechanisms, use clear naming conventions, document processes, conduct regular audits, and provide training and awareness to employees. 

4. What are the benefits of having a centralized storage system for IVR scripts and audio files? 

Centralized storage ensures that all relevant stakeholders have access to the latest versions of IVR scripts and audio files, streamlines collaboration and communication, reduces the risk of file loss or duplication, and facilitates efficient updates and maintenance. 

5. How often should businesses conduct audits of their IVR script and audio file archive? 

Businesses should conduct regular audits of their archive to ensure its accuracy and completeness. The frequency of audits may vary depending on the size and complexity of the archive, but it is generally recommended to conduct audits at least annually or whenever significant updates are made to the IVR system. 

6. What role does training play in effective IVR script and audio file management?  

Training plays a crucial role in ensuring that employees understand the importance of file archiving and how to use the archive effectively. Providing training sessions and informational resources helps teams understand their roles and responsibilities regarding IVR script management, ultimately contributing to the success of the archiving system. 

7. How can businesses ensure that their IVR scripts and audio files remain current and up-to-date?  

Businesses can ensure that their IVR scripts and audio files remain current and up-to-date by implementing version control mechanisms, documenting modifications, conducting regular audits, and providing ongoing training and awareness to employees responsible for managing the archive. Additionally, establishing clear processes for submitting and reviewing script changes can help streamline updates and ensure accuracy. 

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ai marketing message on hold phone menu prompts scriptwriting

The Intersection of Technology and Creativity: Leveraging AI for Your Phone System Scripts 

It’s undeniable that your auto attendant and on-hold messaging can play a crucial role in shaping the first impression your callers have of your business. Perhaps this is why crafting compelling scripts for your phone system can be such a daunting task. Where do you start exactly? What information should you include? And how can you convey the information to your callers as effectively as possible? 

With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) platforms, it’s no surprise that many businesses have turned to these innovative tools to combat the challenges of phone system script creation. Thanks to these AI writing assistants generating myriad possibilities for content, gone are the days of staring at a blank page, wondering where to begin. At initial glance, AI appears to have unlocked a new era of efficiency, precision, and creativity in the script development process. But further evaluation reveals how AI-powered scriptwriting comes with its own share of risks and drawbacks. 

In this blog, we will explore both the transformational upside and challenging downside of utilizing artificial intelligence for phone system scriptwriting. As we’ll see, while AI offers certain advantages, it’s important to consider its limitations in comparison to human judgment and nuance. By thoroughly assessing both capabilities and flaws, businesses can make more informed decisions on how to best leverage AI tools to enhance their phone messaging and improve the overall customer experience. 

The Pros and Cons of AI Scriptwriting: 

There’s no doubt that AI opens up exciting possibilities for content generation, accelerating the brainstorming process and helping you to overcome the initial hurdle of script creation. 

By entering a few keywords and sentences about your business and your client base, you’re immediately rewarded with a wide range of ideas and suggestions from the AI assistant. 

AI-powered algorithms can swiftly analyze your data inputs and provide insights that might not be immediately apparent to human writers. Within seconds an AI writing assistant will offer a vast array of perspectives and concepts in formulating your phone system scripts. You can then identify what resonates best and ask the AI to further test variations by editing, refining, and combining its generated output to suit your needs.  

With its efficiency, speed, and cost-effectiveness in scaling content, it can be quite tempting for users to assume AI can seamlessly fulfill business writing projects with minimal human intervention. However, as enticing as this may seem, you’ll want to remain vigilant in avoiding the obvious – and not-so-obvious – pitfalls the technology can present.  

As these platforms forewarn, AI-generated output may not always be accurate, consistent, or even relevant to your topic. It may contain grammatical mistakes, factual errors, and/or misleading information, which may have ethical and legal implications – something you’ll certainly want to identify and resolve well before your script reaches the recording stage and is implemented on your phone system.  

Beyond these blatant drawbacks, AI-generated text presents a more subtle, but perhaps equally damaging, shortcoming. While AI clearly excels in generating content rapidly, it often falls short in capturing the nuanced understanding, overall context, and brand-specific elements that only human writers can bring to the table. 

Other than silence, nothing could be more grating to callers patiently waiting on hold than listening to content drafted solely by artificial intelligence without any human fine-tuning. Remember, you’ll want to convey important information about your business to your callers in a tone that sounds as natural and engaging as possible. And this is something at which AI doesn’t necessarily excel, even with human prompting. 

A telltale sign that a business has enlisted AI and AI alone in producing their phone system messaging is the level of creativity and emotional depth present in the verbiage. While AI can easily generate coherent and informative content, it often lacks the creative subtleties that human authors naturally infuse into their writing. Unusual or overly complex word choices, stilted and unnatural phrasing, and a robotic adherence to sentence structure are all indicative of AI involvement, which can result in a less-than-positive impression with your callers. 

When not explicitly prompted by a human user to be creative or engaging, AI tends to make up for its lack of creativity by incorporating trendy terminology. Some current buzzwords that AI writing assistants use in overabundance include “game-changer,” “journey,” “dynamic,” “realm,” “robust,” “innovative,” “synergy,” “agile,” “ecosystem,” “disrupt,” and “strategic.” While there’s nothing inherently wrong with these words, their excessive use within AI-generated output can be off-putting, especially in awkward contexts. 

So, while an AI writing assistant might provide you with content that seems coherent and informative at face value, further analysis may ultimately reveal its inability to understand and convey the significant nuances of your business. Therefore, it’s essential to have your team – and your audio marketing provider’s scriptwriting professionals – thoroughly review and amend any AI-generated text before it’s finalized, recorded, and implemented onto your phone system. 

AI vs. Human: 

Let’s consider the following comparison of how a Message-On-Hold paragraph is drafted by both an AI writing assistant and a human writer. Both versions below are based on the exact same details about ABC Medical Center’s new maternity wing. 

First, the AI writing assistant’s version: 

“Welcome to ABC Medical Center, where we prioritize the well-being of expectant mothers by offering top-notch care and secure delivery for newborns. With a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), dedicated maternity specialists, and empathetic, well-trained nurses, we ensure a combination of expertise and compassion throughout your journey. Our recently expanded maternity wing boasts generously sized, private rooms adorned with breathtaking views and luxurious features, fostering an environment conducive to healing and family connection. For an immersive experience, schedule a tour through our website at ABCMedicalCenter.org/maternity or simply connect with one of our helpful representatives when we’re back on the line. Your journey to motherhood starts with us, where safety, expertise, and comfort converge.” 

And now, the professional writer’s version: 

“With our Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, highly skilled team of maternity specialists, and specially trained nurses who are as compassionate as they are knowledgeable, ABC Medical Center offers expecting moms the safest care and delivery of their newborn. Our newly expanded maternity wing provides spacious, private rooms with majestic views and upscale amenities to support healing and family bonding. To schedule a tour, please visit our website at ABCMedicalCenter.org/maternity – or speak with a representative when we return to the line.” 

Notice how the AI version seems a bit excessive and overly dramatic for an on-hold message, while the human version takes into account the need for brevity and incorporates plain language, making the information more palatable for callers on hold. This is a prime example in which it takes a human to understand the needs of fellow humans, as the writer applies his skill in crafting a message that callers can more easily comprehend and retain compared to the verbose AI-generated version.  

The Irreplaceable Benefits of Professional Script Writers: 

While AI can be a powerful ally in generating ideas and content, the human touch remains irreplaceable in the phone system scriptwriting process. Professional writers can bring an innate understanding of your brand, culture, and audience that AI may struggle to grasp.  

Recognizing the importance of this human element, Holdcom’s team of experienced script consultants is committed to delivering high-quality Message-On-Hold and Auto Attendant scripts that are customized to your business. Whether drafting phone system scripts from source material such as you website or other collateral – or incorporating feedback to enhance the content and tone of client-provided rough drafts – our writers have the knowledge, skills, and experience to help you create and finalize phone scripts that are tailored to your brand, audience, and goals. 

If you do enlist an AI platform to assist in writing your initial draft, our writers can scrutinize the content to massage the wording, inject creativity, align with your brand voice, and infuse industry best practices, balancing productivity with quality control.  

In Conclusion: 

Incorporating AI into scriptwriting for your phone system presents a promising option for businesses aiming to streamline the ideation process. While the advantages of AI scriptwriting are evident, it’s crucial to acknowledge the potential limitations – particularly if there’s an assumption that AI will generate flawless, studio-ready copy. Ultimately, AI should be viewed as a supportive tool rather than a complete replacement for human creativity and expertise. While AI enables rapid content scaling, the unmatched value of professional writers cannot be overstated, as they possess the ability to inject creativity and nuance into your phone system scripts, ensuring resonance with your callers that AI alone cannot achieve. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • A major advantage of using AI for phone system scriptwriting is efficiency. AI can help you overcome the initial writer’s block that many businesses face when drafting their Message-On-Hold and Auto Attendant scripts. By entering a few keywords and sentences, you can receive a range of ideas and suggestions from AI, which can then be edited and refined to suit your needs. 
  • Although it’s tempting to assume AI writing assistants can flawlessly fulfill all your business’s writing projects with little or no human involvement, it’s imperative to recognize the substantial drawbacks of this approach.  
  • AI has several limitations. Its output may contain multiple inaccuracies. That’s why it’s critical to have experienced scriptwriters review AI-generated text to identify and correct problematic verbiage before your phone system script reaches the recording stage. 
  • While AI clearly excels in generating content rapidly, it often falls short in capturing the nuanced understanding, overall context, and brand-specific elements that only a human touch can provide. AI-generated text may sound stilted since AI lacks human judgment, creativity, and industry-specific knowledge. Your callers will undoubtedly notice this, which could create a less-than-positive impression of your business. 
  • AI enables scaling scripts rapidly while professional scriptwriters can refine AI-generated text so that it truly resonates with your callers. The end result delivers all the efficiency of AI combined with the essential nuance only humans can provide.  

FAQs: 

Q1: What is AI scriptwriting? 

A1: AI scriptwriting refers to the process of utilizing artificial intelligence technology to generate content for phone system scripts, such as auto attendant messages and on-hold messaging. AI platforms analyze input data and provide suggestions, ideas, and even complete drafts of scripts based on parameters set by the user. 

Q2: How does AI scriptwriting work? 

A2: AI scriptwriting works by employing natural language processing algorithms to analyze input data, which can include keywords, sentences, or specific details about a business or topic. The AI then generates text based on this input, offering a range of ideas and suggestions that users can edit and refine to create their desired phone system scripts. 

Q3: What are the benefits of using AI for phone system scriptwriting? 

A3: Using AI for phone system scriptwriting offers several benefits, including: 

-Efficiency: AI can help overcome writer’s block by quickly generating ideas and suggestions for scripts. 

-Speed: AI can rapidly generate content, accelerating the script development process. 

-Scalability: AI enables the scaling of content production, making it suitable for businesses with large scriptwriting needs. 

Q4: What are the limitations of AI scriptwriting? 

A4: While AI scriptwriting offers advantages, it also has limitations, including: 

-Inaccuracy: AI-generated text may contain grammatical errors, factual inaccuracies, or irrelevant information. 

-Lack of nuance: AI often struggles to capture the nuanced understanding, context, and brand-specific elements that human writers can provide. 

-Stilted language: AI-generated text may sound robotic or unnatural due to its reliance on algorithms rather than human judgment and creativity. 

Q5: How can businesses mitigate the risks associated with AI scriptwriting? 

A5: To mitigate the risks associated with AI scriptwriting, businesses can: 

-Thoroughly review and amend AI-generated text before finalizing and implementing it onto their phone systems. 

-Enlist the expertise of professional scriptwriters to refine AI-generated content, ensuring it aligns with the brand voice, resonates with callers, and meets industry best practices. 

-Recognize that AI should be viewed as a supportive tool rather than a total replacement for human creativity and expertise in scriptwriting. 

Q6: What is the role of professional scriptwriters in the AI scriptwriting process? 

A6: Professional scriptwriters play a crucial role in the AI scriptwriting process by: 

-Reviewing and refining AI-generated content to ensure accuracy, clarity, and resonance with callers. 

-Injecting creativity, nuance, and industry-specific knowledge into scripts to enhance their effectiveness. 

-Balancing productivity with quality control to deliver high-quality phone system scripts tailored to the brand, audience, and goals of the business. 

Q7: Can AI-generated scripts be seamlessly implemented onto phone systems? 

A7: While AI-generated scripts can provide a foundation for phone system messaging, it’s essential to thoroughly review and refine them to ensure they meet the standards of accuracy, clarity, and effectiveness required for implementation onto phone systems. Professional scriptwriters can assist in this process, optimizing AI-generated content to resonate with callers and enhance the overall customer experience. 

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customer experience IVR phone menu prompts

Transforming Customer Engagement: The Crucial Role of Interactive Voice Response Systems in Omnichannel Strategy 

In the pursuit of elevating customer service, businesses are constantly seeking innovative methods to enrich their communication channels and deliver streamlined experiences. In recent years, a pivotal aspect in enhancing customer engagement entailed integrating Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems into the omnichannel approach. In this blog, we’ll delve into the significance of incorporating IVR into omnichannel strategies, exploring its impact on delivering a more cohesive and personalized customer experience.

The Evolving Role of IVR Systems

Interactive Voice Response systems have long been a staple in customer service, allowing businesses to automate interactions and route callers to the appropriate department or resource. Traditionally, IVR systems have been perceived as standalone entities, often limited to phone interactions. However, with the last decade bringing shifts in consumer behavior, advancements in technology, and a growing complexity in the customer service landscape, many businesses recognized the benefits of incorporating IVR into their omnichannel processes.

The Rise of Omnichannel Strategy

Over the past decade, omnichannel has surged in popularity as a comprehensive approach to customer engagement, seamlessly integrating diverse communication channels like voice, chat, email, and social media. The primary objective is to deliver a unified and consistent experience across all touchpoints, allowing customers to effortlessly transition between channels without losing context. This surge reflects each industry’s recognition of the importance of cohesive and adaptable communication strategies in meeting evolving customer expectations.

The Intersection of IVR and Omnichannel

Integrating IVR into the overall omnichannel strategy is, by today’s standards, no longer simply a step in the right direction for businesses aiming to deliver exceptional customer experiences but rather an imperative. Here’s why:

  1. Enhanced Customer Flexibility: Omnichannel IVR allows customers to initiate interactions through their preferred channels. Whether it’s a phone call, chat, or email, the IVR system adapts to the customer’s chosen mode of communication, providing a more flexible and personalized experience.
  2. Contextual Continuity: Omnichannel integration enables a smooth transition between channels while maintaining context. For example, a customer who initiates a query via email can seamlessly transition to a voice call without repeating information. This continuity enhances efficiency and reduces customer frustration.
  3. Personalization Opportunities: With omnichannel IVR, businesses can leverage customer data across channels to personalize interactions. By incorporating information from previous interactions, IVR systems can provide tailored responses and recommendations, making customers feel understood and valued.
  4. Data Synergy: Omnichannel IVR systems contribute to a more comprehensive customer data ecosystem. Data collected from various touchpoints can be analyzed to gain insights into customer behavior, preferences, and pain points. This information is invaluable for refining IVR scripts, optimizing workflows, and improving overall service quality.
  5. Improved Resolution Times: By leveraging omnichannel capabilities, businesses can route customer queries to the most appropriate channel based on complexity and urgency. This targeted approach ensures that complex issues are directed to the most qualified agents while simpler queries may be efficiently resolved through self-service options within the IVR system.
  6. Omnichannel IVR in Action

Let’s take a look at some realistic scenarios where omnichannel IVR integrates various communication channels to provide a unified and cohesive customer experience:

1. IVR and App/Website/Email/Text Integration:

  • Scenario: A customer calls a bank’s IVR system to inquire about a recent transaction on their account.
  • Omnichannel Integration: The IVR system recognizes the customer’s phone number and cross-references it with recent interactions through other channels, such as the bank’s mobile app or website.
  • Example Interaction: The IVR system provides an option for the customer to receive a detailed transaction summary via email or text message. The customer selects this option, and the system sends the requested information to their preferred channel, creating a seamless transition from the IVR to digital channels.

2. IVR and Live Chat Integration:

Scenario: A customer initiates a support call to a telecommunications company regarding a service issue. After navigating through the IVR menu, they still need assistance and opt to chat with a live agent.

Omnichannel Integration: The IVR system recognizes the customer’s account information and the reason for the call. It transfers the context to a live chat agent along with the call transcription.

Example Interaction: The customer is connected to a live chat agent who is already aware of the customer’s account details and the issue they were facing. The agent can continue the conversation and resolve the query without requiring the customer to repeat information. Additionally, the chat transcript is stored for reference, ensuring consistency if the customer switches channels later.

In both examples, a consistent and integrated experience across various communication channels is provided, allowing the customer to transition between channels without losing context. This approach enhances customer satisfaction and efficiency in issue resolution by leveraging the strengths of each channel within the overall customer journey.

Let’s take a look at a third example of omnichannel IVR in action:

3. Appointment Scheduling Across Channels:

  • Scenario: A healthcare provider offers appointment scheduling services through various channels, including phone, website, and a mobile app.
  • Omnichannel Integration: The IVR system is integrated with the appointment scheduling system and other communication channels. It recognizes the patient’s phone number and appointment history.
  • Example Interaction: A patient calls the IVR system to schedule a medical appointment. The IVR provides options for available appointment slots, and the patient chooses a suitable time. Simultaneously, the IVR sends a confirmation message to the patient’s registered email and mobile app, updating their appointment details across all channels.

In this example, the IVR system facilitates appointment scheduling through a traditional channel (phone) while ensuring that the information is instantly updated across other channels. This ensures consistency and coherence in the scheduling process, regardless of the channel used by the patient. Patients can receive confirmations, reminders, and changes to appointments seamlessly through the IVR and other communication channels, enhancing the overall patient experience.

Implementing Omnichannel IVR for Your Business

Achieving a consistent omnichannel experience for your customers entails a combination of strategic planning, implementing omnichannel software/services, training, testing, and refinement. Here’s a general overview of the process:

1. Assessment and Planning:

  • Identify the channels: Determine which channels are most relevant for your business and customers.
  • Customer journey mapping: Understand how customers interact with your business across different channels.

2. Selecting Omnichannel Software or Services:

  • Omnichannel Software Solutions:
  • Many businesses opt for omnichannel software solutions that provide a unified platform to manage multiple channels.
  • These software solutions often include features for channel integration, customer data consolidation, and analytics.
  • Service Providers:
  • Some businesses choose to work with specialized service providers that offer omnichannel capabilities.
  • These providers may offer a combination of software, consulting, and integration services to tailor solutions to the business’s needs.

3. Integration of Channels:

  • Once a software or service provider is chosen, the next step is to integrate the selected channels.
  • Integration may involve connecting existing systems, APIs, or utilizing middleware to ensure smooth data flow between channels.
  • For example, integrating an IVR system with a chat platform or linking customer data between email and social media channels.

4. Data Consolidation and Customer Profile:

  • Omnichannel success relies on having a consolidated view of customer data across all channels.
  • Businesses need to establish a centralized customer profile that is accessible across various touchpoints.
  • This allows for a personalized and consistent experience as customers move between channels.

5. Training and Support:

  • Staff members should be trained on how to use the omnichannel system effectively.
  • Customer support teams should be well-versed in managing interactions across different channels.
  • Ongoing support is crucial to address any issues that may arise and to optimize the use of omnichannel capabilities.

6. Monitoring and Analytics:

  • Implement analytics tools to monitor customer interactions and gather insights.
  • Analyze data to identify trends, customer preferences, and areas for improvement.
  • Use the information gathered to refine strategies and enhance the omnichannel experience.

7. Continuous Improvement:

  • Omnichannel implementation is an ongoing process that requires continuous improvement.
  • Regularly review and update strategies based on customer feedback, changing technologies, and business goals.

Regardless of which omnichannel software or services a business may choose, the key is to align the chosen solution with the organization’s specific needs and goals to create a cohesive and efficient customer experience across multiple channels.

Final Thoughts

Introducing IVR into the omnichannel approach certainly marked a welcome paradigm shift in customer engagement. Businesses that embrace this approach in catering to the diverse communication preferences of their customers gain a competitive edge by delivering a seamless, personalized, and efficient service experience. As technology continues to evolve, the convergence of IVR and omnichannel will play a pivotal role in customer interactions for an even greater number of businesses in the years to come.

Key Takeaways: Elevating Customer Engagement with Omnichannel IVR
  1. The Evolution of IVR: IVR systems have transcended traditional phone interactions, playing a pivotal role in omnichannel strategies to enhance customer engagement.
  2. The Surge in Omnichannel Strategy: Within the last decade, businesses have begun embracing omnichannel approaches, seamlessly integrating diverse communication channels for a unified and consistent customer experience across touchpoints.
  3. The Intersection of IVR and Omnichannel: Incorporating IVR into omnichannel strategies is imperative for businesses, offering enhanced customer flexibility, contextual continuity, personalization opportunities, data synergy, and improved resolution times.
  4. Implementing Omnichannel IVR: Achieving a consistent omnichannel experience requires strategic planning, the selection of omnichannel software/services, channel integration, data consolidation, staff training, monitoring, analytics, and a commitment to continuous improvement.
  5. The Future of Omnichannel IVR: Through the convergence of IVR and omnichannel, businesses gain a competitive edge by delivering seamless, personalized, and efficient service experiences aligned with evolving customer preferences. As technology advances, this convergence remains pivotal in shaping the future landscape of customer interactions.

FAQs: Omnichannel IVR Implementation and Benefits

Q1: How does omnichannel IVR differ from traditional IVR systems?

A1: Omnichannel IVR expands beyond traditional phone interactions, seamlessly integrating various communication channels like voice, chat, email, and social media. This evolution ensures a unified customer experience across diverse touchpoints.

Q2: Can businesses customize their omnichannel IVR systems based on specific needs?

A2: Yes, businesses can tailor omnichannel IVR systems to their specific needs. This customization involves selecting relevant communication channels, integrating software or services, and aligning the system with the organization’s goals for a cohesive customer experience.

Q3: What challenges might businesses face during the implementation of omnichannel IVR?

A3: Implementing omnichannel IVR may pose challenges such as channel integration complexities, data flow management, and the need for staff training. Overcoming these challenges requires careful planning, effective integration strategies, and ongoing support.

Q4: How does omnichannel IVR contribute to data synergy and analytics?

A4: Omnichannel IVR systems contribute to a comprehensive customer data ecosystem by collecting data from various touchpoints. This data can be analyzed to gain insights into customer behavior, preferences, and pain points, aiding in refining IVR scripts and improving overall service quality.

Q5: Can omnichannel IVR be integrated with existing systems and software?

A5: Yes, businesses can integrate omnichannel IVR with existing systems and software. This integration may involve connecting through APIs, utilizing middleware, or adopting omnichannel software solutions that provide a unified platform for managing multiple channels.

Q6: How does omnichannel IVR enhance personalization in customer interactions?

A6: Omnichannel IVR leverages customer data across channels to provide personalized interactions. By incorporating information from previous interactions, IVR systems can offer tailored responses and recommendations, making customers feel understood and valued.

Q7: Is omnichannel IVR suitable for businesses of all sizes and industries?

A7: Yes, omnichannel IVR can be beneficial for businesses of all sizes and industries. The key is to align the chosen solution with the organization’s specific needs and goals to create a cohesive and efficient customer experience across multiple channels.

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Navigating Consent, Compliance, and Quality in Customer Service Calls: Why Your Call May Be Monitored or Recorded 

Whenever contacting a customer service hotline or any business helpline, you’ve likely encountered the familiar disclaimer right before an agent joins you on the line: “This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance and training purposes.” While it may seem like a routine announcement provided for courtesy, there’s more to it than meets the ear. In this blog post, we’ll explore the reasons behind businesses incorporating this phrase into their Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems and how it benefits both companies and customers. Additionally, we’ll delve into the nuances of consent, state regulations, and the distinctions between monitoring and recording. 

Quality Assurance: Elevating Customer Service Standards 

One of the primary reasons businesses use this disclaimer is to ensure the quality of customer interactions. By recording calls, companies can review and assess customer service representatives’ performance. This practice enables businesses to identify areas of improvement, address training needs, and maintain a consistent and high level of customer service. Quality assurance is crucial in building and preserving a positive brand image, and monitoring calls helps companies uphold their service standards. 

Resolving Disputes and Verifying Information 

Recording customer calls serves as a valuable resource when disputes or discrepancies arise. In the event of a disagreement between a customer and a business representative, having a recorded conversation can provide an objective and accurate account of the interaction. This can be beneficial for both parties, helping to resolve misunderstandings and ensuring that the information exchanged is precise and reliable. 

Training and Development: Nurturing Competent Staff 

The phrase in question is not just about monitoring but also about training purposes. Recorded calls offer a treasure trove of real-life scenarios that can be used for training new employees or refining the skills of existing ones. By analyzing actual customer interactions, businesses can tailor their training programs to address specific challenges and scenarios encountered by their representatives. This process contributes to the continuous improvement of staff competency and ensures that employees are well-equipped to handle a variety of customer queries and concerns. 

Compliance with Legal and Regulatory Standards 

In many industries, there are legal and regulatory requirements regarding the recording and storage of customer interactions. The “This call may be monitored or recorded” disclaimer serves as a transparent way to inform customers that their calls are being recorded, ensuring compliance with relevant laws and regulations. This proactive approach helps businesses avoid legal complications and reinforces trust with customers who appreciate transparency in data-handling practices. 

Consent and the Legal Landscape: One-Party vs. All-Party Consent 

The issue of consent is nuanced and varies depending on the legal landscape of the state. In the US, some states operate under “one-party consent” laws, meaning that only one person involved in the conversation needs to give consent for the call to be legally recorded. Technically, when both parties are in the same “one-party consent” state, if the party initiating the recording (the company) gives consent, they can record the other party (the customer) without their consent. Other states, however, follow “all-party consent” laws, requiring the consent of all parties involved in the call. This divergence in state regulations adds complexity, especially in the case of interstate or multi-state phone calls. 

Interstate/Multi-State Phone Calls and Federal Law 

When dealing with calls that cross state lines, businesses must navigate the differing consent laws of each state involved. In such cases, federal law comes into play. The Federal Wiretap Act permits the recording of telephone conversations with the consent of at least one party involved. This means that, at a minimum, businesses need to comply with the one-party consent requirement, regardless of the states involved. 

“Monitoring” vs. “Recording” 

While the disclaimer commonly mentions both monitoring and recording, these terms have distinct meanings. Monitoring typically involves supervision while the call is happening and comes in the following forms: 

Listening: When a supervisor can only hear what is transpiring on a customer call. 

Whispering: When a supervisor listens to the conversation and can provide feedback to the agent on the call in real time. 

Barging: When a supervisor is asked to join the call to support the agent. 

While monitoring effectively allows for immediate feedback and intervention to provide the best customer experience possible in real time, recording retains the call for future reference, analysis, and/or training purposes. Understanding this difference is essential for businesses to communicate clearly about the nature of their call management practices. 

In Summary 

The inclusion of the phrase “This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance and training purposes” in IVR systems is not just a formality; it’s a multifaceted strategy that benefits both businesses and customers. From maintaining service standards to resolving disputes and ensuring legal compliance, this practice plays a crucial role in fostering a transparent and efficient customer service environment. So, the next time you hear that familiar disclaimer, know that it’s not just a random message; it’s a commitment to delivering the best possible customer experience while navigating a complex legal and technological landscape. 

Key Takeaways:  

A Purposeful Disclaimer: The familiar pre-call disclaimer, “This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance and training purposes,” is more than a routine courtesy. It serves as a strategic tool with multifaceted benefits for both businesses and customers. 

Quality Assurance Matters: Businesses utilize call monitoring and recording primarily for quality assurance. By reviewing and assessing customer service interactions, companies identify areas of improvement, address training needs, and maintain a consistent and high level of service, crucial for building a positive brand image. 

Dispute Resolution and Accuracy: Recorded calls serve as valuable resources in resolving disputes. In disagreements between customers and representatives, a recorded conversation provides an objective and accurate account, helping to clarify misunderstandings and ensuring the precision and reliability of exchanged information. 

Training for Excellence: The practice extends beyond monitoring to training purposes. Recorded calls offer real-life scenarios for training new employees and refining the skills of existing ones. Analyzing customer interactions allows businesses to tailor training programs, contributing to continuous staff competency improvement. 

Legal Compliance: The disclaimer ensures transparency and compliance with legal and regulatory standards. In various industries, specific laws govern the recording and storage of customer interactions. Proactively informing customers about recording practices helps businesses avoid legal complications and reinforces trust through transparent data-handling practices. 

Consent Complexity: In the U.S., consent requirements vary based on state laws. Some states operate under “one-party consent,” while others follow “all-party consent” laws. Navigating this complexity is crucial, especially in interstate or multi-state phone calls, where federal law, such as the Federal Wiretap Act, sets a baseline standard. 

Monitoring vs. Recording: Understanding the distinction between monitoring and recording is essential. Monitoring involves real-time supervision, including listening, whispering, and barging, for immediate feedback. Recording, on the other hand, retains calls for future reference, analysis, and training, contributing to a clearer communication of call management practices. 

Commitment to Customer Experience: The inclusion of the disclaimer reflects a commitment to delivering the best possible customer experience. From maintaining service standards to legal compliance and dispute resolution, call monitoring and recording play a crucial role in fostering a transparent and efficient customer service environment. 

FAQ: 

Q1: Should businesses include the statement, “This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance and training purposes” in their IVR recordings? 

A1: Absolutely. Including this statement in IVR recordings is not just a best practice but also a legal and ethical requirement in many jurisdictions. It serves multiple purposes, including quality assurance, training, and compliance with legal standards. Informing customers about call monitoring and recording fosters transparency, builds trust, and ensures that both parties are aware of the nature of the interaction. It also helps businesses in maintaining service standards, resolving disputes, and developing competent staff through training programs. 

Q2: When should the disclaimer be stated in the IVR recording? 

A2: The disclaimer should be included in the IVR’s upfront greeting, so that callers hear the statement right before they’re joined by a live agent. This timing ensures that customers are informed about the monitoring/recording process before any conversation takes place. Providing this information upfront allows customers to make an informed decision about continuing with the call. Additionally, it aligns with legal requirements, as some jurisdictions mandate that individuals be notified of the recording at the outset of the conversation. Clear communication at the start of the call contributes to a transparent and positive customer experience. 

Q3: Can customers refuse to have their calls recorded, and how should businesses handle such requests? 

A3: Yes, customers have the right to refuse the recording of their calls. Businesses should have processes in place to accommodate such requests. Typically, agents can offer alternatives, such as summarizing the key points of the call in writing or directing the customer to channels where recording is not a standard practice. It’s essential for businesses to respect and adhere to customer preferences while still fulfilling their service objectives. 

Q4: What are the potential benefits for customers in accepting call monitoring and recording? 

A4: Customers who consent to call monitoring and recording contribute to improving overall service quality. By allowing businesses to review interactions, identify training needs, and address performance gaps, customers actively participate in the enhancement of the customer service experience. Additionally, in the event of disputes, recorded calls can provide an objective record, helping to quickly and accurately resolve issues to the satisfaction of both parties. 

Q5: How do businesses navigate the complexities of call recording consent across different states in the U.S.? 

A5: Businesses operating across multiple states must be aware of the varying consent laws. The Federal Wiretap Act permits recording with the consent of at least one party, providing a baseline standard. However, businesses should also be familiar with individual state laws, especially those that follow “all-party consent.” To navigate this complexity, businesses often adopt a conservative approach, ensuring compliance with the strictest applicable regulations to maintain legal integrity and customer trust. 

Q6: Are there any specific industries where call recording is particularly crucial, and why? 

A6: Industries that deal with sensitive information, such as healthcare, finance, and legal services, often find call recording crucial due to regulatory compliance and the need to ensure the accuracy and security of information exchanged. Additionally, industries with a strong focus on customer service, like retail and hospitality, leverage call recording to refine staff training, address customer concerns effectively, and maintain high service standards. 

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IVR localization multilingual phone menu prompts Translation voice over voice talent

Leveraging the Diversity of New York City: How to Build an Inclusive Business and Serve a Multicultural Clientele

New York City is known for its diverse population and vibrant culture. One aspect of this diversity is the wide range of languages spoken in the city. According to a recent study, over 800 languages are spoken in New York City, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world.

This diversity brings many benefits to the city and its residents. It allows for a rich exchange of ideas and cultures, and it also makes the city a more welcoming and inclusive place for people from all backgrounds.

However, this diversity also presents challenges when it comes to communication. In order to effectively serve the needs of all its residents, it is important for businesses and organizations in New York City to be able to communicate in the languages of their clients and customers.

One way to accomplish this is by providing translation and interpretation services. By offering these services, businesses and organizations can ensure that their communications are clear and accessible to all. This is particularly important in industries such as healthcare, education, and government, where effective communication is crucial for providing high-quality services.

In addition to providing translation and interpretation services, it is also important for businesses and organizations to prioritize language diversity in their hiring practices. By hiring multilingual staff, businesses can better serve the needs of their diverse customer base and foster a more inclusive work environment.

Another important touch point to consider regarding language diversity is your business or organization’s phone systems and IVRs (Interactive Voice Response systems). By offering multiple language options on these systems, businesses can make it easier for callers to navigate and access the services they need.

For example, a business with an IVR system that provides upfront language preference options ensures callers are able to access the information and assistance they need in their own language. This not only improves the customer experience but also increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The availability of different languages on business phone systems and IVRs is an important aspect of effective communication and customer service. By offering multiple language options, businesses and organizations can better serve the needs of their diverse customer base and foster a more inclusive and accessible environment.

Overall, the diversity of languages spoken in New York City is both a strength and an opportunity. By recognizing and addressing this diversity, businesses and organizations can better serve the needs of all their clients and customers and contribute to the city’s vibrant and inclusive culture.

One More Thought…

Check out this press conference excerpt of the Mayor discussing the need for all hospitals to offer multilingual brochures and communications for patients. NYC Health + Hospitals offers their callers 9 distinct language preference options on their phone system’s IVR prompts.

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customer experience IVR multilingual phone menu prompts scriptwriting tips Translation

The Best Method for Translating Your Audio Production Scripts

Human vs. Machine – Translation Excellence?

You’ve just finished writing a comprehensive IVR script for your organization’s phone system.  But before submitting it to Holdcom, you remember you were tasked with having the script recorded not only in English but also Spanish, French, and Mandarin, since a significant portion of your client base communicates with your organization in those languages.  Like any professional working within a budget, your first instinct is to research the most cost-effective options possible to have your English script translated into the other languages.

Perhaps you’ve seen ads online for websites promising no-cost, on-the-spot translation solutions.  Or maybe you remember there’s a built-in translation app on your mobile phone that you’ve always wanted to try out.  Or perhaps you simply decide to type the words “free translation” into your web browser, and up pops Google Translate as the first search result.

Whichever of these methods you choose, you’re amazed not only at the ease-of-use the automated tool offers but also the immediacy that it renders a seemingly thorough translation.  All you had to do was simply copy-and-paste your English script into the “Enter Text” box, select the desired language for translation, and INSTANTLY a fully formed translated document appeared.  And you didn’t need to pay a single cent!  Nothing short of victory, right?

But before you email that translated script over to Holdcom to be recorded, remember the age-old saying – If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

While no-cost translation sites/apps can be a great resource for quickly translating stand-alone words, short phrases, or even full paragraphs to obtain the gist of information presented to you in a language you don’t understand, these same sites/apps can yield varying degrees of inaccurate translations, depending on the context of the verbiage you’re translating and the languages involved.

So while a free automated translation site might be an adequate solution when it comes to personal use (such as helping you understand an email or text from your new social media friend in France, who’s writing to you in his native language), that same site’s lack of 100% accuracy renders it an ineffectual tool for professional applications, especially long-form applications such as Message-On-Hold and IVR scripting.  In other words, the longer your script, the greater the likelihood the automated tool will produce errors in the translation.

Of course this begs the question – WHY do these automated translation tools produce such errors?

Think about it.  In English, a word can have various meanings, and those meanings can be very different from each other.  If someone were to say any of these common homonyms to you –

fan, park, play, right – as purely stand-alone terms and expect you to know the exact meaning they’re implying, you could certainly take a guess.  But you would really need to know the surrounding context associated with those words to understand the precise meaning that person was intending.  Such is true for homonyms in other languages.  And therein lies one of the reasons an automated translation site/app can easily take a wrong turn.

Depending on which type of auto-translation tool you use and the languages you’re pairing, the software may rely on direct (or, “literal”) translation methods, meaning it translates each word of your text separately, without considering how those words are used collectively in the full context.  This can result in not only grammatically incorrect – but oftentimes, nonsensical – translations.

To give you an example, I remember receiving a client’s Spanish translation years ago and immediately realized they had used an automated translation tool.  I’m not fluent in Spanish by any means, but when I referenced the client’s English version of their Spanish translation, I noticed the word “Queens” throughout.  And based on the context of the English script, I could see the client was referring to the New York City borough of Queens.  However, the word “Queens” appeared nowhere in the Spanish translation, which was a red flag.  I could see that instead of leaving the proper name of “Queens” intact in the Spanish translation, the automated tool mistakenly translated it literally as “Reinas” – the plural version of “a female sovereign or monarch” – which was obviously not the word/meaning the client intended.

So what will happen if you unknowingly submit a faulty translation to Holdcom to be recorded?  In general, it will cause confusion and ultimately delay the production of your final product, which is never ideal – especially if your leadership has given you a hard deadline to have the recordings implemented on your phone system.  So as our voice talent sits down to record your translation, s/he will inevitably spot grammar and word choice errors that will likely render the script unreadable.  In these situations, I often receive feedback from voice talents as such: “Unfortunately it appears this script was translated using Google Translate or a similar site.  If I were to record this as is, I’d basically be reading gibberish in some sections.  I think I know what the client is trying to say, but I honestly can’t be sure and I certainly don’t want to guess.  So please circle back with the client for clarification.”

Although the accuracy of certain automated translation tools has improved over the years, don’t assume the site/app you’re using is necessarily selecting the word/meaning it thinks best based on the specific nuances of your content.  Such automated tools are more likely relying on a language pattern-matching algorithm, so there’s no guarantee it will select the word/meaning you intended.  To compound the problem, there is no reliable way to confirm the auto-translator’s word choices are fully accurate without an actual human being, fluent in both the original language and translated language, to verify those word choices.  A machine using an algorithm simply can’t understand the contextual subtleties to the same degree a trained human can.

And that is why, when translating a document that will be used for a professional application, it’s crucial to steer clear of these “machine translators” in favor of skilled human professionals.  Experienced professional translators will take the necessary time and effort to avoid the pitfalls of literal translation methods.  They’ll factor in the all-important rules of grammar as well as any cultural references and nuanced language contained in your script.  They may utilize not only their personal knowledge and expertise of the languages required for the translation but also well-established multilingual dictionaries/glossaries, “back translation” methods, and proofreading/review techniques, which automated translation tools do not employ.

If you don’t already have a reliable human translation source (such as a fluent bilingual staff member with a proven track record of providing error-free translations), then Holdcom, at an affordable rate, can provide you with professional translation services, performed by certified, highly experienced multilingual translators.  And since word choice can be subjective even when skilled human translators are involved, you will be given the opportunity to review and approve all translated documents before we record them.  This way, if our Spanish translator translates the phrase “To repeat these options, press 9” as “Para repetir estas opciones, oprima 9” – but you prefer the word choice of “Para repetir estas opciones, presione 9” – we can certainly adjust that to your liking before the script is recorded and implemented on your phone system.

Contact Holdcom at 800 666 6465 for assistance with foreign language localization assistance
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The Future of IVR

A Sign of the Times

Is this the end of the IVR or the beginning of a new era?

Before we talk about where we are going, let’s take a moment to look back and see how cultural norms and consumer behavior helped to shape this technology and the contact center industry.

Traditional IVR

Automated Call Distributors (ACDs) were born in the 1960s.  They were industries’ answer to the growing number of phones, which had become an American staple, accompanying a 2-bedroom home in the suburbs with a picket fence and an American car in the driveway.  The explosion of television a decade earlier, combined with the heyday of the Mad Men of advertising, established the birth of consumerism.  Armed with their Bell telephones, these consumers had questions, problems, and complaints that needed resolutions.  It was a natural progression for businesses to automate the previously manual process of routing calls to the relevant departments.

With the introduction of touch-tone dialing and the Princess phone, the integration of IVRs (Interactive Voice Response Systems) into businesses ramped up in the 1970s and ’80s and were soon everywhere in the 1990s.  Toll-free numbers on catalogs and eventually every product ushered in a new era of self-service as consumers pecked their way through menus and options to get what they needed.  All was good in consumer affairs and call centers, for about 10 years.

This is where our heartfelt story of bygone days starts to take a turn.  Although this technology is deemed a contact-center mainstay for a variety of reasons, including the ability to handle larger quantities of customers and reduce costs, it also has its downside.  How many times have we all endured an IVR only to get to the end with no option that suits our needs?  It’s no wonder IVRs were voted the most annoying invention of all time in 2012.

Sure, we could point fingers at who was responsible for making these systems too bloated.

“It’s IT’s fault!”

“No, the budget was slashed!

“It was Marketing!”

The simple truth is consumer behaviors and wants had evolved beyond what technology could provide.  Contact centers were now dealing with multiple channels from mail to voice and now email.  And they were also expected to support new websites.  It was time for the IVR to progress beyond the voice channel.

IVR Automation (Conversational IVR)

As consumers’ phones became mobile – and the “cloud” didn’t just mean a rainy day – everything was going digital.  And while social media and live chat were the shiny new toys being deployed, IVR just kept showing up and doing its job – getting smarter with more integrations and hitting its stride as AI and Natural Language Understanding (NLU) took it to a new level.    

This ushered in the Conversational IVR, which brought with it many benefits including identifying consumer intent more effectively and quickly connecting customers with agents who had the best skillset for that interaction.  Customers received answers to their questions faster than they would with conventional IVR systems.  Conversational IVR also increased customers’ satisfaction and raised First Call Resolution (FCR) rates.  Even average handling times (AHT) improved as well as customer wait times.

As time marched on, consumers were becoming more addicted to their phones with new apps launching every month.  Their comfort level with speaking to technology was growing as they began using Siri, Google Voice, and Alexa on a daily basis.  Their expectations also grew as they interacted with a brand.  They expected the same ease and convenience as all the other technology they were using.

IVR Deflection (Visual IVR)

Today consumers are the most tech-savvy we’ve ever experienced, and their expectations continue to be on the bleeding edge.  As we inch closer and closer to the first version of cyborgs, armed with multiple smart devices, consumers are “connected” 24/7.  And just as we have adapted to speaking with and interacting with technology, we are now beginning to accept the effect of big data and the uncanny accuracy of hyper-relevant topics appearing on our screens.  For many, it may still seem unsettling, but in the not-too-distant future, it will be second nature and expected. 

Consumers now expect their interactions with brands to follow them from device to device seamlessly.  The automated customer experience is enhanced through Visual IVR, or “IVR deflection.”  Deflection enables you to add a multichannel experience to customer contacts, in contrast to Conversational IVR, which confines the customer and agents to the voice channel.  Depending on the circumstance, people may favor different channels.  There are occasions when verbal communication is not the greatest method for exchanging information, thus necessitating a transition to visual communication.  In the past, this required the customer to manually change channels.  In other words, hanging up the phone and restarting the communication process via email or a web browser.

Thankfully, Visual IVR opens a completely new engagement vector: the digital experience.  The digital interface of the Visual IVR provides users with a self-service experience akin to an app.  An email or text link is used to initiate the web-based experience; no downloads or installations are required.  Customers can engage with a visual interface to make menu selections, check account information, enter information digitally, and more.  While Visual IVR provides many of the same advantages as a mobile app, it essentially eliminates the barriers to client adoption.  The majority of Visual IVR deployments can make use of digital resources and tools that have already been created by the business.  Contacts can receive virtually anything that has been developed into an app or website and access it in real-time over the voice channel.  An agent can quickly move them to a designated chat, send them a coupon, or do whatever the interaction requires.  No starting over, no frustrations.

What’s next for IVR?

Although the IVR is approaching its 60s, there’s no sign of retirement for this contact center workhorse.  Many contact centers and businesses continue to have traditional and automated IVR systems running parallel to the other channels they are supporting, to suit all the preferences of their clients.  As visual IVRs become more ubiquitous, and the boomers adapt or fade away, the IVR will still be around in some shape or form.

To understand what the future holds for this industry, we simply need to look to our customers and the companies that are gaining traction.  As Millennials and Gen Z are racking up big numbers using Instagram and TikTok as search engines, they are redefining the digital experience daily.  The next generation holds the key to where we will meet our customers while catering to all their individual preferences. 

If I could predict the next great communication innovation, I would be writing my next book and planning a speaking tour.  But I don’t think anyone REALLY knows, because it will ultimately come down to where we are as a society and what makes the most sense at that time.  If Armageddon is coming as the preppers keep warning us, I guess I’ll see you in the bread line.  But I’m more of an optimist and like to lean into a future that will continue to use technology in a positive way.  Whether it will be on a Tesla smart Skele-Toe shoe phone or a tinfoil hat, I know it will be digital, highly personalized, totally portable, and require minimal effort.  And it will most likely be virtual. Beyond that, I believe the next evolution of self-service will be built on the 5 key features of Web3, (decentralization, blockchain, security, scalability, and privacy) and will be the predecessor to a completely sentient virtual agent. 

So, before you order your custom-fit Oculus headsets and launch into the Metaverse version of “Ready ‘Agent’ One,” don’t be surprised if you’re SWOTing concepts for a Discord group chat or Twitch live stream in the near future.  Or maybe you’ll be contemplating how Twitter Spaces and Spotify’s Greenroom could reduce handle times and increase C-SAT.  Regardless, in the near future as you awkwardly pose for your daughter’s latest BeReal post, confused by what’s happening, just realize you could be implementing this with your agents soon.

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call center customer experience equipment greetings IVR phone menu prompts tips

7 Ways to Bring Your IVR into the Future (or out of the past)

Not all companies and contact centers are the same size or have the same budgets.  This list has been compiled from industry trends and over 30 years of working with brands in all types of industries.  Whether you’re managing a handful of seats or hundreds of agents, choose the items on this list that will have the most impact based on your current situation.

Get to know your customer

This is probably the most underrated and underutilized tactic for most companies.  Understanding your customer and what/how they want to interact with your brand will make all your initiatives much more effective.  Take the time to speak with frontline agents to understand not only your clients’ demographics – but also their preferences.  Use this data to fine-tune your IVR and other self-service tools to optimize client engagement with the brand.

Localization & Customization

Hop on this trend and look to customize every contact as much as you can.  Leverage the data your agents are tracking in the CRM to improve the customer experience.  Meet your customers when, how, and where they want to be met, on whichever device or platform they prefer.  And do it in their language or dialect.  Nothing builds more trust than being greeted in your native language.

Automation & Conversational IVR  

If you’re still using traditional IVR, look to migrate to a conversational platform.  You must be looking at a ‘Mobile First’ approach.  Callers trying to navigate a keypad on the go are not ideal.  Provide your callers with the option to use voice commands, and this will speed up caller intent and provide a much better experience.  It will also allow for more built-in automation, which the IVR can handle and keep the call from going to an agent unnecessarily.

Branding

The IVR is the front door to your business.  Make sure it provides the best first impression possible.  Often overlooked, branding plays a key role in caller confidence.  Having the right voice that fits your brand and can serve as a “spokesman” builds callers’ trust, as they consistently hear and recognize that familiar voice while engaging with the brand.  Having clear, concise messaging increases caller comprehension and reduces miscues in the IVR.

Omni-Channel Consistency

Whenever possible, provide your contacts with a brand-appropriate experience, no matter which channel they are engaging with.  This includes the words and tone you use – from your agents to your chatbots to your IVR.  Too often brands aren’t consistent in their messaging, and your contacts can feel like they’ve called the wrong company.  Just because Marketing thought the new chatbot should sound hip or cool doesn’t mean it’s on-brand.  Find a sound that fits your brand and tweak it accordingly, depending on the technology and platform.

Regular Auditing & Tuning

How many times have you called a brand to hear three or more different voices when interacting with the IVR?  Make it a routine to call and listen to your IVR and ensure it’s being updated as you update other areas of the contact center.  The IVR can sometimes be treated like the middle child and appear forgotten as you move quickly to upgrade or implement new tools.  At least once a quarter, ensure your IVR is still providing the most comprehensible and efficient options and that it’s been updated to leverage other channels.

Visual IVR

Visual IVR unlocks the IVR from the voice channel and expands its use to all other developed channels.  Many companies are now embracing a visual IVR and realizing they should have done it sooner.  This simple technology can help to revolutionize your interactions with contacts, increasing C-SAT and reducing customer and agent effort. 

How are you maintaining your IVR? Let us know in the comments what we missed or suggestions you would recommend.

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call center IVR phone menu prompts scriptwriting tips

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?