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Best Practices for Writing IVRs
There are many things to consider when writing IVRs (Interactive Voice Response) and designing a positive caller experience, which can seem daunting. We’ve broken down the process to help you identify the most important elements, and help you understand how to tackle each one.
Tone of Voice
This is extremely important for your brand identity, and to ensure you are creating the right impression. How approachable or corporate do you wish to sound? Align the tone of voice to your customer profile and remember that this interaction may be the only “human-to-human” one they have with your company. Would it be better to use “Thanks for calling” or “Thank you for calling”? “We are” or “We’re”? Should you refer to “an agent” or “one of our team”?
Also, when you’ve written a prompt – read it aloud – you’ll be amazed how often something you can read fluently in your head leaves you tongue-tied when it’s spoken.
Too much repetition is an easy trap to fall into – especially with option choices. A common example is the “please press…” scenario, for example:
“Thanks for calling ‘business name’; Please press 1 for Sales; Please press 2 for Accounts; Please press 3 for Technical Support; For anything else, please press 4.”
A really simple way of removing the monotony from an auto attendant message is to tweak the wording slightly. Here’s a better execution of the same example:
“Thanks for calling ‘business name’; For Sales, press 1; The Accounts team are on 2; If you need technical support, choose 3; And for everything else, it’s 4.”
This is much more engaging and less robotic. What’s more, describing the option before the selection is made minimises internal transfers through clearer routing.
Minimise the IVR Options
Keep it simple and keep it clear. Before you start writing prompts, review your call flow from caller pick up to agent – are there unnecessary options that lead to the same skill set?
Try to limit option choices to a maximum of 5, and position the most frequently chosen options first, so that the majority of callers hear a relevant option as early as possible in their journey.
Call to Action
If you want your caller to do something specific, make sure it’s the last thing they hear in any message, and that they understand why it’s needed. Going back to the revised IVR example, the calls to action were placed at the end of the phrase.
If you’re sharing information such as a phone number, this is a time when repetition is needed – remember, your callers have a limited window to absorb the information, so make sure you give them the opportunity to hear the number again.
Directing callers to find information on your website or social media channels is often useful but be mindful that your callers may have started their journey online.
Ensure any deflection messages are benefit led – for example: “to save you time, we’ve put the answers to our most frequently asked questions on our website…”
Also, lose the ‘www” – it’s no longer needed, and callers can navigate without it. And if you’re confident your callers know how to find you online, you don’t need to include the URL.
To the Point
Keep your IVR or voice prompt messages clear and simple. Don’t overload your callers with irrelevant information and keep to one topic per message. For instance, if you want to announce that the business is closed and share the opening hours, don’t also include product information, or dilute the message with additional details.
Calls are Recorded
That dreaded phrase: “calls are recorded for training and monitoring” is old and clichéd and offers no value or benefit to your callers. If you record calls, you need to let callers know, but you can use this as an opportunity to say something positive: “To make sure we’re always providing a great service, we record our calls…”.
We hope these tips are useful to help you improve your IVR recordings for your telephone messaging. Remember, there are lots of example messages and scripts included our NT Studio’s extensive message library, and you can also get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01623 687750.
Interested in NT Studio? Our ‘text to speech’ options are just as good as a ‘real voice artist’. Have a listen.