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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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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?

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message on hold scriptwriting tips

6 Script Tips for Your Hold-Time


Audio marketing scripts are used by many companies in today’s business world. Hold times that are often filled with “dead air” or music can be used more effectively to convey messages to your customers. Here are five script tips for how to use Message On Hold, instead of playing boring elevator music.

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IVR scriptwriting tips

Using the Right IVR to Sound Like a Big Company

Although automated phone greetings are often the first interactions customers have with your company, many small business owners don’t take necessary steps to make sure they are making the correct first impression. Deciding what options to present and composing a concise and understandable greeting are difficult for many people. Thus selecting the right auto attendant/IVR to sound like a bigger company is a crucial step in presenting your business to the public. Here are suggestions on how you can set up your IVR to best meet customer needs.

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customer experience phone menu prompts scriptwriting tips

Best Practices For IVR, Voice Prompts, and Auto Attendant

 
IVR_BestPractices

As a business owner, you are likely interested in providing superior quality at every customer touch point for your business. One of the first things a customer may encounter is your telephony technology, be it IVR, voice prompts, or an Auto Attendant. What can you do to ensure that your company shines with this type of technology?

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marketing scriptwriting tips

3 Marketing Audio Script Questions to Ask Yourself

Writing a marketing audio script can get frustrating without an outline and an understanding of what an effective audio script should be. I know, I know, you’ll just Google it, right? It is important to remember that you are writing something that is meant to be heard.

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resources scriptwriting tips

Two Questions to Ask Yourself When Writing Telephone Audio Scripts

2 Questions to ask when writing telephone scripts question mark maze 166291742When you’re writing an audio script for your phone system, as opposed to a piece written for print (online or off), the right script makes all the difference. There are two questions you should consider before beginning a new project: