Why a Good IVR Voice is So Important
Roughly 70% of customer service interactions are now powered partly by interactive voice response (IVR) systems and AI, according to figures from Accenture. But if you’ve spent any amount of time calling customer support for a large company, then you know that some of these IVR systems are way better than others.
On a basic level, an IVR system is like an automated voicemail system that tries to gauge why customers are calling and get them to the right place. But a lot can go wrong during that process.
I had the honor of becoming the official customer service/telephony and IVR voice for T-Mobile in 2015. (You can listen to some samples from that and other IVR demos above.) So I’ve learned some things about what makes a great IVR voice and the role it plays in a customer-service experience.
In this post, I share some of my thoughts and tips for hiring an IVR voice actor that enhances your customer service voice system and resonates with customers.
The challenges with interactive voice response
The most common reason why people call customer experience is that something has gone wrong. So right off the bat, you’ve got an angry customer who needs help. If they experience any friction or roadblocks when trying to get that help, then they only become angrier.
Maybe the IVR voice system doesn’t understand what the customer is calling for. Maybe there are too many prompts, or none of the prompts apply to the customer’s situation. Maybe the customer can’t even understand what the IVR voice is saying!
Each of these scenarios increases the risk of losing the customer. So it’s vital that the IVR system is strategically designed to calm, support and efficiently guide the customer in every way possible. That’s where a good IVR voice can play an important role.
The role of the IVR voice
An interactive voice system needs to be fast, efficient and helpful. But in addition to the process that the customer experiences, the IVR voice itself has a powerful impact on the customer’s frame of mind.
If the IVR voice is difficult to understand, it will only make the situation worse. If the voice sounds unfriendly, curt or unhelpful, the customer’s mood will quickly sour. Additionally, if the voice sounds completely out of touch with the person calling (for example, much older or much younger), this too can be an off-putting experience. So when the caller finally reaches a human, they’re already on edge.
Let’s look at what an IVR customer service voice needs to be effective.
Tips for a successful IVR voice
- Friendliness: An IVR voice should sound friendly and warm. You should be able to hear the smile on the voice actor’s face.
- Flexible vocal range: The tone of the voice should put customers at ease. This means hiring a voice actor that has flexibility in their vocal range to sound compelling, empathetic, helpful, professional – or whatever the situation calls for.
- Relatability: Should the IVR voice sound young and upbeat? Or serious and scholarly? It all depends on the brand and the type of customer service being provided. Most important is that the IVR voice is relatable to the audience that is calling in.
- Brevity: This relates more to the script than the voice itself, but it’s important that the IVR prompts are quick and succinct. People will naturally become more frustrated the longer they’re on the phone.
Companies use interactive voice response systems because these systems ultimately help them support more customers in less time. The systems automate the support process and allow people to self-service common issues, which eliminates the need for a human agent in some cases.
But if the IVR voice, or the process itself, creates a bad customer experience, then it will only hurt the company’s reputation. This is why it’s so important to work with a skilled IVR voice actor who can deliver a clear, relatable, empathetic voice that is perfectly aligned to your brand and customer-service objectives.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more tips from professional voice over artist, poet and philosopher Kabir Singh.