As you already know, a call or contact center business relies on many different technologies that have been specially designed to enhance customer satisfaction, improve the center’s operating efficiency, empower management, or lower the overall costs of doing business.
Do you know about all of the available options to get the most out of your automated telephone answering system?
Do you know what the difference between a voice prompt and IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is?
IVR is an automated call answering system that interacts with callers through the use of voice recognition, vocal response, and a touch-tone keypad.
In other words, IVR is a telephone system technology that can process a combination of touch tones and voice inputs.
A voice prompt is, as the name suggests, a recorded instruction that directs a caller to use the telephone answering system.
A voice prompt may ask for language preference and will instruct the caller to speak or press a particular key on the telephone’s number system.
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Interactive Voice Response Systems and Recordings
An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a computer-based system that allows callers to use their telephone keypad or vocal instructions to access information or provide account or call-back instructions without assistance from trained customer service agents.
The IVR uses voice prompts to direct customers to a list of selections, based on the nature of their inquiries.
A good IVR system will be able to provide answers to common inquiries, such as hours of operation, location(s), services, or products offered, current promotions, social media sites, and so on.
The system also guides callers to options for further assistance, including the option to speak with a company representative.
IVR recordings offer things like menu options that can be made available for specific times-of-the-day, days-of-the-week, holidays, special events, or multiple languages.
Announcements can be professionally recorded or computer-generated, but generally a professional recording featuring professional voice talent offers callers a more human touch.
Most IVR applications include a number of features, including customer account details, call forwarding options, order entry transactions, questionnaires, polls, or surveys, and enable customers to access and look up information by selecting from a list of options.
IVR solutions typically use pre-recorded menus to present options to callers.
Recent technological developments have facilitated solutions that can gather information and address caller responses through spoken words by using voice recognition software.
Why IVR menus matter
Often, your IVR recording is your customer’s first communication with your business, especially during periods of high-volume calls.
A good IVR system will guide callers to the appropriate resources to address their concerns or answer their questions accurately and efficiently.
You want an effective IVR system in order to enhance your contact center’s efficacy and the customers’ experience by answering calls promptly and directing them to the correct option right away.
When your system has a sufficient number of ports, an IVR can reduce or even eliminate busy signals or long waits during high volume periods.
Callers can sometimes obtain the information they are looking for, or complete some types of transactions simply and easily.
When callers require personal attention, the IVR can obtain their information and direct callers to the correct department or extension.
An IVR can reduce the number of agents that you need during regular business hours for the reasons outlined above, thus saving you money.
Because an IVR can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, callers have unlimited access to essential information about things like operating hours, services offered, or social media platforms where they might find the answers they seek.
An IVR system can collect data, in effect operating as a customer polling tool to gather valuable insight on employee performance, customer rating of the IVR system itself, and can also log call detail information into its own database.
A good IVR relies on good IVR recordings.
How It Works
A voice prompt is a recorded script that is played by IVR, auto attendants, message-on-hold systems, and other voice processing tools commonly used by businesses.
The “prompt” as its name suggests prompts or guides the caller by requesting that they provide the system with information.
A voice prompt differs from a regular message on hold in that it asks the caller for feedback and directs their call.
One type of voice prompt asks customers to push a particular number or option using their telephone’s touch-tone keypad, for example, “For accounts payable, please press two now.”
Another type of voice prompt instructs callers to speak, “Please say the name of the party you wish to reach” is an example, and in this case the system is using voice recognition.
IVR uses these menu options to provide callers with instructions and directions for accessing information via phone.
Voice prompts are audio recordings that include a general greeting and provide prompts or questions that direct the caller on how to proceed while working within your telephony system.
Menu options vary in length, but for the best results, they should be clear and concise.
How to write solid scripts for your IVR recordings.
Your company will get the most value from your IVR system when you make sure that the menu options are well-scripted and easy to understand so that your callers can find their way through your phone system with ease.
A poorly scripted IVR recording, or one with poor sound quality, will lead to frustration and leave a bad impression with your customers.
In this section we are going to talk about some of the ways to craft a clear, concise, and generally acceptable menu scripts that will enhance your business and improve caller experience.
The welcome greeting is the first thing the caller will hear, so you want to make certain that it is clear, and well, welcoming.
If you have Custom Dynamic IVR (meaning that an existing customer’s phone number is already in the database), their name is included in the greeting.
The main menu will provide your callers with prompts to direct their call through your telephony system.
You may wish to offer callers the option to speak with a live representative, this is often the last option, but, depending on your type of business you may want to offer this choice at the beginning of the call.
If you expect callers to speak multiple languages, you will begin by offering them service in two or more languages.
For example, in Canada, callers are often offered service in English or French.
Of course, the options must be recorded in the respective language, “For service in English, please press 2 now.”
If your caller needs to speak with a call center agent and none are immediately available, the caller will need to wait for a response to their query.
Remember that a voice prompt message is not the same as a message on hold, the difference being that the caller is given options and instructions, rather than simply being told that they are on-hold.
The on-hold or waiting voice message for IVR can direct your caller with additional prompts rather than having them lose patience with a long wait for attention.
For example, your message might be, “We are experiencing a high volume of calls at the moment, to continue to hold, press 1, to leave a voice message, press 2 and someone will get back to you shortly.”
Outside of Business Hours
Another type of IVR message caters to callers that are calling outside of regular business operating hours.
For this message, it is important that you inform callers about the regular business hours and offer them an option such as the opportunity to leave a voice message.
Your after-hours message might also direct callers to your social media or company’s website.
A voicemail greeting menu welcomes callers and then directs them to options for leaving a voice message with the correct agent or department.
You might want to consider two different voicemail greeting options, one during regular business hours, and one for calls that come in outside of regular business hours.
Similar to the messages for calls that come in outside of regular business hours, this recording to inform your customer that your business is closed in observance of a particular holiday, informs them of when you will be open again, and lets them leave a voice message.
If it is a commonly shared holiday, you might include a seasonal message.
If the caller is prompted to leave a message by pressing 2, you will also want to have a thank you message and perhaps indicate when they can expect a return call.
Industry Specific IVR Voice Prompts
We have covered a number of generic IVR menu options and greetings, but of course, there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all solution.
A restaurant or dining establishment would, for example, direct callers to a reservation system for dining in, and might offer take-out or delivery.
A product based or manufacturing company might direct callers to learn more about a line of products, to payment or billing inquiries, or perhaps to customer service, and so forth.
Similarly, a service-based business like a salon might direct callers to book an appointment, or to learn about specific packages or services offered.
Health care industries need clear messages, for example, a pharmacy that lets clients refill prescriptions through an IVR system needs to be very precise.
Health care industries are one place where you might want to offer the option to speak directly with a trained company representative at the start of the call, rather than at the end.
Real Estate companies might want to offer options according to property types, for example, “For Residential properties, press one; for Commercial properties, press two, and so on.”
Financial industries like banks and insurance companies will also have more industry-specific menu options and prompts.
Like the health care sector, the financial sector needs to be aware that clients might be calling due to highly stressful situations and your messaging needs to be tuned to alleviate the callers’ stress to the extent possible.
Some general tips:
Remember that although you are writing a script, it is going to be delivered with a voice recording.
Make sure that you use clear language and avoid jargon.
Try to limit your message to 4 or 5 prompts, research indicates that too many prompts might confuse your callers and cause them stress, not the impression you want to make.
Keep the most often requested services or queries at the beginning of your IVR menu, this helps to minimize the number of options the caller needs to listen to.
Keep it simple.
Do not repeat words like please, press here, etc.
Enunciate and if you are providing extension numbers be sure to state them slowly and clearly to prevent errors and help to make sure the caller reaches the correct agent on the first try.
Use one voice for all menu prompts in a particular language.
If you record calls, make sure to inform the caller.
Always offer an option to return to the main menu.
To make the best first impression on callers, you might want to consider using a professional service for your IVR voice prompt recordings.
You want a voice recording studio that is flexible and also specialize in Voice Prompts for IVR recordings.
You need to be sure that the studio is able to deliver your audio files in the format you need for your particular IVR system.
Consider using Professional Voice Talent to get the right voice for your brand image.
And of course, you want a high-quality recording, that is key.
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