Categories
Uncategorized

15 Voice Prompt Blunders To Avoid in Your IVR System

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

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 If you are instructing callers to dial an extension, you should switch to the term “press,” otherwise you might seem outdated.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

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

Categories
Uncategorized

Still Talking After All These Years

A reflection on our 30 year anniversary and building an industry.
By Andrew Begnoche Director of Operations at Holdcom

February 7th, 2017 CDM Studios, New York, NY30th Anniversary Blog.jpg
“Let’s stop there for a second,” interjects the engineer as he pushes the talk back mic in the main studio at New York City’s CDM Studios, waiting for feedback from the writers and producer. As long time creative collaborators and business owners, Harvey Edelman and Neil Fishman banter back and forth about the performances during the recording of a ground-breaking audio book musical project they’re pioneering. 

As I watch Neil and Harvey work through their creative process on an adaption of their musical version of Rumpelstiltskin, a story about a man who spins straw into gold, I can’t help reflect on our journey and how we’ve been trying to spin our own straw into gold at Holdcom. In order to best tell that story we need to go back to the beginning.

Categories
Uncategorized

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

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

Categories
Uncategorized

The Customer Experience of Your Phone Customers: 3 Top Tips

The customer experience of your phone customers means your business moving ahead or remaining stagnant. Here are three tips from Fortune 500 companies about how to make that experience top quality and create a loyal customer out of the casual customer over the phone.

Categories
Uncategorized

What Your Brand Image Is Missing

As a business owner, you want to make sure the many moving parts don’t lose sight of the overarching mission and your brand image stays consistent. Your brand does have its own identity, which leads to the whole brand image. A brand’s image should be created based upon who your target audience is, what you do, and how you see your company.

Categories
Uncategorized

Take Your Vision Statement to the Next Level with an Explainer Video

Chances are your business has a vision statement, and chances are your marketing team spent a good deal of time crafting it.  Company vision statements are written and rewritten, honed, tested, massaged, and whipped into shape until they get the necessary buy in and end up tucked away somewhere on the company website.  Now, here’s the $64,000 question:  does anyone really care?

Categories
Uncategorized

Part Two- Are Entertaining Videos Worth the Investment?

A previous post from Holdcom discussed the value of entertaining videos in a world where John Travolta is better known for his role in Scientology than his role in Saturday Night Fever.  If you didn’t get the chance to read it, you can check out the full article here.  Video_Marketing-110438-edited

Categories
Uncategorized

ACD: The Valuable Tool Your Company Isn’t Using

An Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) can be a very valuable tool for a company. What it does is fairly self-explanatory: it distributes calls automatically, letting your customer service team focus on serving customers instead of having to spend time directing calls. ACDs have a large number of additional benefits beyond saving time, however.

Categories
Uncategorized

Are Entertaining Videos Worth the Investment?

Any business owner who remembers John Travolta dancing in a white suit instead of stumping for Scientology knows that videos and social media are not the only way to grow a business. So I’ve had to accept that the world, and the business world, has changed, and that we needed to do more than direct mail campaigns and trade shows to increase revenues. And we did. At my company, we do regular email marketing, keep our website current and cutting edge, and write our daily/weekly blogs. Some might argue it’s an economical tradeoff for brand awareness, promoting business and generating leads. But what about producing entertaining, ambitious videos, that aren’t even necessarily trying to sell? All that time, resources, and money, just to say “Hey world, we’re here. Look at us!” It’s a tough pill to swallow for the CFO, even if I do consider myself the progressive partner. Where’s the return? Where’s the ROI? That’s what I hear… outside… and inside my head.

Categories
Uncategorized

How To Get Quality Customer Feedback

Customer loyalty is important for any business. The best way to improve loyalty is to understand and improve the customer experience. This is especially true in the hospitality industry because customer experience is the product. Customer feedback is a vital key in evaluating their experience and improving upon it. Here are some tips to help you get quality feedback.