Telephone voice overs are a necessity in nearly every industry, but are especially essential for any company requiring a large customer service division and an interactive voice response (IVR) system.

When customers call a given company’s line to ask for help or leave a comment or complaint, they expect courteous treatment from a customer service representative. With more and more companies choosing to design elaborate phone trees to help customers navigate their phone system to direct their call, voice over has become an even greater need to keep callers engaged and minimize potential frustration. Turning waiting time into selling time is advantageous to a company and far more preferable to someone waiting than dead air or elevator music. This is where a well-crafted voice over and capable voice talent comes in.

The voice over script can cover recent developments at the business in question, provide useful information, entertain or simply remind the customer that he or she will be attended to shortly.

Telephone Voice Over Talent

A talented voice over artist understands how to tread that fine line between being comforting and authoritative.

Additionally, the professional needs to instantly switch tones depending on which portion of the telephone voice-over is being recorded.

Instructions explaining which key to hit and when must be kept as concise as possible. On the other hand, marketing messages presented while the customer is on hold are best presented in a conversational tone.

A wide-array of demographics can be used in the hunt for the ideal voice over actor, but in the end, the best choice will involve an accent that can be understood by the greatest share of customers.

For businesses with a local base of operation, this may require finding a voice capable of speaking in the dialect of the area. National and international companies are better suited to what is known as the standard American accent, however, languages, dialects and even accents can be localized if need be.

Most importantly, the voice over must be easy to understand for customers and clients of all fluency levels.

Making The Most of Each Call

There are so many ways people communicate these days.

The telephone, which used to be the go-to means of contacting companies, is now just one tool among many options. Despite there being more avenues for customers to reach you than ever before, nothing has been able to completely replace speaking to a real person.

That said, picking up a phone to call someone else is a special effort these days for a prospect or customer. If someone even musters the desire or courage to dial in, they’re showing a high degree of engagement and hold onto the belief that if they call you, they’ll get the answers they need.

Some of these callers may even be in a state of agitation because they’ve already been trying to solve the problem on their own and haven’t had much success.

When that customer calls in, the first sound they encounter is important.

Selecting a Voice for Your IVR and Auto Attendant

As a tip, designing your phone tree should come before hiring a voice actor for your phone system. Arranging the flow of work this way will make it much easier to craft your script! customer experiences on the phone start as soon as your lines connect. Be sure to kick it off right with a strong auto attendant, the first greeting your callers hear.

The auto attendant often leads in to the IVR, a menu that gives the caller options, like ‘press 1 for customer service,’ ‘press 2 for sales,’ etc.

Usually, the same voice that is hired to perform the auto attendant records your entire phone system. The auto attendant voice is likely the first impression a customer is given of your company, and consistency may be key when trying to retain them on-hold, particularly if the first voice representative (your auto attendant voice talent) really struck a chord with them.

When picking a voice for any purpose, you’ll need to clearly identify your market and define the characteristics of your customer base. It’s important that your telephone voice over best reflects your company’s image, market, and customers.

Here are some simple questions you can ask yourself:

  • Does this voice compliment the demographics of my target market?
  • Can my customers relate to this voice?
  • Are they persuasive and genuinely convincing?

Hiring a Voice Actor for your IVR Phone System

The voice you choose for your phone system will brand your company and likely be the first point of human contact for your customers. Remember to think about the gender, age, accent, style, when selecting a voice. Write down what you know about your customers and select a voice that best reflects their demographic and meets their specific needs.

Depending on what your company offers, you’ll want to match the voice with your services. If you are serving an older customer set, think of casting a middle aged or senior voice for your voice talent. If you serve predominantly young adults or thirty-somethings, select a voice geared to their age group.

Other Considerations for Hiring a Voice Actor for a Phone System

Think of several adjectives having to do with tone of voice, attitude and disposition. You’ll want the recorded voice on the phone system to resemble the way that your team speaks with people live on a call. The voice you choose to represent your company needs to be an extension of your team.

When directing the voice artist on how to read your script, it helps to share information about what makes your company special. Listing your company values is also a good way to direct talent on how to read your script. This may go without saying, but you want the voice artist to resonate with your audience on a personal level. This person’s voice needs to be building trust and managing expectations for callers on the line.

Also consider the accent that you want your callers to hear. If you work with people locally or within a certain region, you may want consider hiring a voice actor who an accent that matches your customers.

Alternatively, if you want to convey that you are a global entity, you may consider a voice actor that has an exotic or foreign accent.

Your voice over will only be as effective as the voice talent that you cast, so script and choose wisely. Be sure that the talent you hire has met all of your voice casting requirements including gender, style, accent and age for best results.

Picking a voice depends largely on your brand, its personality and how you want to be perceived. Auditioning talent and having them read a portion of your script is one of the best ways to figure out who would best serve as your telephony voice. There’s nothing like hearing someone say your organization’s name and hearing them invite your customers into conversation. You can learn a lot by listening to samples, and in doing so, may finally find your voice (pun intended)!

What to Include in Your On Hold Script

To engage customers, you can alternate between marketing and customer support messages in your on hold scrip. You could even include upcoming events or direct them to your social channels stay in touch.

For an average system where customers are on-hold for 1-3 minutes, it’s wise to have at least 2 courtesy messages and 2 marketing messages, each message timing out to precisely 30 seconds (:30).

Music should play in between the messages for 30 seconds (:30) This will result in 2 minutes of voice-over and 2 minutes of uninterrupted music play, giving you total of 4 minutes of on-hold messaging.

For systems supporting callers on-hold longer than 4-5 minutes at a time, make sure that your material is kept fresh for your audience, with at least 4 different courtesy messages and 4 different marketing messages.

On Hold Script Examples

Thank you for calling Extreme Sports Gear and Mountain Bikes.  We’re glad that you called and appreciate your business.  In respect of your time, a customer service representative will take your call shortly so that you can get back to the great outdoors.

* Music in between messages for 30 seconds or so appropriate to your listening audience *

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The Best On Hold Music Reflects Your Business

To accompany the voice over, music is often used as a secondary track in a voice over recording. Music can vary throughout or remain true to a theme.

Music should reflect your business and your customer base and should foster conversation and reflect your brand, not create a disconnect between you and your customer.

The human voice, even lyrics in a song, functions as another instrument and a communicator of messages.

Sample Company Voicemail and After Hours Message

Thank you for calling XYZ Company.  We are unable to take your call at this time.  Please leave a detailed message including your name, phone number, and the reason you called and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.  Looking forward to serving you!

Personal Voicemail Script Example

Thank you for calling the office of Jane Doe, Principal of Groversfield Elementary.  I am on the other line or am presently out of the office.  Please leave your contact details, and I’ll return your call as soon as I get back.  Thank you, and have a nice day.

Script Considerations for IVR Phone Systems

Express your brand voice using direct language that creates a deeper connection with callers. Make sure that every line of your script has a place to live. When scripting phone trees, you’ll need to create a variety of voice prompts — each one needs to do something specific to help move your caller along on their journey with you.

Be flexible with your scripting and realize that it may need to change from time to time. This is particularly true for companies that are growing or do seasonal work. Remember that the copy you write today for your phone system has a shelf life. Some scripts last longer than others, but all companies need to update their phone systems every now and then.

In Summary, There are Many Reasons Why IVR Phone Systems are Important

Your phone tree design, voice over scripting, and on hold program functions all combine to form an extension of your advertising and customer service strategies. Here are some of the ways that IVR phone systems can add value to your business, when done well:

FACT:  On-Hold Messaging Reduces Hang-ups. 
Callers don’t want to wait and will hang up if left on hold too long. 60 percent of business callers placed on-hold will hang up if left in silence.

FACT:  On-Hold Messaging is Preferred by Most Callers.
Callers want assistance. 80 percent of callers appreciate hearing information about a company while waiting, rather than hearing a radio station, sleepy music or silence. On-hold messaging provides helpful information.

FACT:  On-Hold Messaging Can Influence Buying Decisions.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to sell your product or service through custom-produced on-hold messaging: 16 to 20 percent of callers have made purchases based on information they heard while on hold.

FACT:  Most Business Callers Are Placed On-Hold. 
83 percent of business callers experience some hold time. Two-thirds will be on-hold for 43 seconds or longer (long enough to hear worthwhile information or a pleasant greeting from on-hold messaging).

FACT:  Silence Makes On-Hold Time Seem Longer Than It Is! 
Callers who are subjected to silence while on-hold perceive their on-hold time to be three times longer than it actually is.

FACT:  Callers Who Hang Up While On-Hold May Never Call Back.
More than a third of all first-time callers who hang up while on-hold will never call back.

A message on hold program is the most cost effective marketing tool available today. Compared to other forms of media, on hold marketing is a sound investment for your business. Presenting unified marketing announcements to your best prospects. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week.

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