The Importance of IVR Phone System and On Hold Voice Over
When a customer picks up the phone and pays your company a call, what do they hear? If they’re met with monotonous elevator music or the sound of dead air, then you’ve missed out on the valuable opportunity to transform on hold waiting time into selling time by assembling a sturdy interactive voice response (IVR) phone system.
Casting the right voice for your IVR phone system can make all the difference when it comes to fostering customer loyalty and deepening connection with your brand. Your brand’s auto attendant may be a customer’s first-ever point of contact with your brand. In fact, people who have gone out of their way to call your business happen to be among your best prospects. Whether that voice leaves a positive or negative impression can be a critical factor that determines whether the caller returns to you in the future or takes their business elsewhere.
What qualifies a voice as the ‘right’ choice for your on hold and IVR phone system, however, will be contingent upon a number of factors that are unique to your company and, ultimately, your brand. Here, we’ll investigate how the IVR voice and on hold messaging you choose will function as a tool for reinforcing your sonic brand, as well as important considerations to have in mind as you choose the best IVR voice over to please customers and serve as your brand spokesperson.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- 5 Tips For Evaluating On Hold Phone Systems
- What you and your customers stand to gain from a strong IVR phone system
- How to cast the right voice over talent
- Achieving brand alignment
- Sonic branding examples
- Helping voice actors understand your brand
- On hold music examples from real brands
- Formatting your on hold script
- On hold script example
- Final considerations for your IVR phone system
5 Tips For Evaluating On Hold Phone Systems
There comes a point in every business when you’ll need to consider acquiring an on hold telephone system. Call volume and phone traffic are the natural byproducts of your marketing efforts. Your customers and prospects call to conduct business or obtain information about specific products and services. When they dial your number, you have their undivided attention.
Most business telephone systems have two parts. The first is the phone server, a piece of hardware that receives inbound calls and routes the calls to the appropriate extension. The second part is the telephone itself, which allows your staff to accept and transfer calls, or conduct conference calls.
While names like RingCentral Office, 8X8, Aircall, Vonage and Avaya come to mind, there are more cost-effective solutions that do the job just as well, such as the Vonage phone systems.
Regardless of the brand, there are five standard criteria to consider when evaluating a business telephone system.
First and foremost, you want a phone system that is easy to operate. The telephones themselves should have a familiar feel with the ability to complete everyday functions such as placing a call on hold, muting a call, and increasing and/or decreasing the volume level. You’ll also want to ensure that the phones themselves have both a handset as well as a jack for a headset.
Rich Feature Set
Most businesses will require a main menu, call routing, and voicemail. Each member on staff will be equipped with their own extension and voicemail box. Your IT guy or gal should be able to set-up a new phone line or make any adjustments to the system settings by logging into the telephone system software. The software should be mature, and again, easy to use. Read reviews from other business owners or IT people about how the software performs and which features are included.
Regular business hours are from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. That means that the office is closed for 16 hours per day. If you receive calls from multiple time zones, it’s likely a lot of calls will end up going to voicemail. With this knowledge, invest in extra storage for voicemail.
Give your callers a strong first impression with a customized telephone system greeting. The auto-attendant is the technical name for the voice you hear on the main menu. You should hire a professional to record the auto-attendant and deliver an MP3 or WAV file to you that you’ll then upload into the telephone system. While you’re at it, have the voice talent record a general voicemail message, office is closed message, holiday hours message and most importantly, a number of on hold messages.
Upgradable / Expandable
A basic phone system includes two phone lines. Before long, you’ll want to expand to four lines. If your business continues to grow, you’ll want the flexibility to easily add another four lines. Be sure that the phone system you select has the ability to expand the number of phone lines. I’d also include the ability to plug in a CD player in your “expandable” requirements. The TalkSwitch lets you either upload on hold messages or simply play the on hold messages from a CD player that’s plugged in. Having your on hold messages on CD lets you easily update your messages, play current promotions, or share timely news relating to your business.
Naturally, cloud phone systems or VoIP solution will be completely virtual, but the same premise applies: ensure that you can upgrade and expand your system as needed.
7 Ways Your Company and Customers Benefits From Strategic IVR Phone System Voice Over
Whether you’re only receiving a handful of callers a day, or your phone lines are perpetually ringing off the hook, your company has a lot to gain from developing a strong IVR phone system.
Here are seven reasons why strategically designing your IVR phone system can lead to greater customer loyalty and increased profits:
1. Reduce abandoned calls by confirming callers are being attended to
If a customer calls your number to be met with nothing but radio silence, then they’re likely to wonder whether there’s a technical difficulty, or if they’ve even dialed the correct digits. For many people, being placed on hold is a daily experience. More than 70% of business calls are placed on hold.
Did you know that the average person spends 60 hours per year on hold? A valuable on hold message should instantly notify the caller that they’ve reached their desired destination, thank them for calling, and inform them that they’ll be attended to shortly. Otherwise, the caller will be inclined to hang up. 60 percent of business callers placed on hold will hang up if left in silence, and over 85% of callers prefer on hold messages over silence.
2. On hold messages offer the opportunity to inform customers about your company
The most popular rationale for developing an on hold marketing program is a desire to provide callers with relevant information regarding the nature of their call. The keyword here is ‘relevant.’ Your on hold program can feature a sales message, customer service message, an informational message, or any combination you choose. On hold marketing is designed to turn telephone ‘hold time’ into a vital public relations tool.
Studies have shown that on hold messaging is favored by the majority of customers. When they call you, customers are first and foremost seeking assistance. 80 percent of callers have said they appreciate hearing relevant information about a company while waiting, rather than getting redirected to a radio station or sedated with sleepy music, and according to a Telemarketing Magazine Survey, one in five people have made a purchase or decision based on information they heard while on hold. On hold messaging can provide your customer with helpful information and add unforeseen value to their call.
3. The tone of your phone voice over system has the potential to de-escalate potential conflict
Through the tone of your hold music and messaging, you have the opportunity to put customers in a good mood, alleviate their stress, and perhaps, momentarily entertain them. Being put on hold can be a pain, so customers will be pleasantly surprised if the hold message or music can make them chuckle or calm their nerves. When done well, this can result in a far smoother interaction. Never underestimate the emotional capabilities of sound!
4. Hold messaging can influence buying decisions
A message on hold program is the most cost-effective marketing tool available today.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to sell your product or service through custom-produced hold messaging: 16 to 20 percent of callers have made purchases based on information they heard while on hold. On hold messages also aren’t ignored in the same way that traditional commercials occasionally are. Unlike an annoying radio ad, from which a listener can change the channel, on hold messages are intended to contain important information and momentarily receive the entirety of a caller’s focus.
5. 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. This revealing ratio means that you ought to use your IVR phone system as an opportunity to gain or secure new customers, instead of losing them from the get-go.
It has also been found that callers who are subjected to silence while on hold perceive their on hold time to be almost three times longer than it actually is.
6. IVR phone systems can offer cost-effective 24/7 support
Callers want assistance, and that’s why an IVR or on hold phone system is among the most efficient marketing tools available to you. When you can’t have an employee waiting on standby to answer incoming calls, IVR phone systems come in handy because they are operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and function effectively even under high-volume call times.
7. Hold messages can prompts callers to have useful information at the ready
If a customer is calling to make a purchase or inquire about an order, then it may be beneficial for them to have specific information available that will streamline the interaction. Why not take advantage of the moment when you have the customer on the line, waiting to be attended to, to prompt them to retrieve their credit card or account number? This will make both of your jobs easier, and will help you both evade the process of a subsequent wait as the caller scrambles to find pertinent details.
It’s worth remembering that, amid the fast-paced routine of daily life, the last thing a caller wants is to be placed on hold. When a customer calls your company line, it may be because they’ve encountered a problem that can’t be resolved with information available online, and it’s possible they’re feeling frustrated.
Because of everything that both your brand and your customers stand to gain through the institution of a well-rounded phone system, IVR and on hold messages shouldn’t be a mere afterthought for your company, but rather a top priority when it comes to engineering your brand identity.
Providing information through your on hold messaging has been shown to result in a 40% increase in retention of callers on hold, a 15% increase in company inquiries, and a 12% direct increase in requests for products and services mentioned on hold.
Choosing Voice Over Talent for Your On Hold Messaging and IVR Phone System
It’s important that your telephone voice over best reflects your company’s image, market, and customers (more on that below). When it comes to versatility, professionalism, and range of vocal performance, a professional voice actor is always a worthwhile, and often very affordable, investment.
The majority of all telephone system recordings are recorded by female voice talent, however, you may find that a male voice is more suited to your industry or organization, especially if you represent an industry traditionally associated with men.
Remember to think about gender, age, accent, and 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.
For instance, a seasoned voice actor understands how to tread the fine line between a comforting and authoritative tone, in addition to being capable of seamlessly switching their vocal approach depending on which portion of the IVR phone system is being recorded.
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. Depending on what your company offers, you’ll want to match the voice with your services. For instance, if your messaging is for a hospital or medical clinic, consider a comforting voice over style with mild authoritativeness. Alternatively, if you are a ticket hub for sports events, pick an upbeat, energetic voice style that best exudes your brand and speaks directly to your caller.
Consider the accent that you want your callers to hear. If you work with people locally or within a certain region, consider hiring a voice actor who has the same accent as the customers you serve. Be sure that the talent you hire has met all of your voice casting requirements including gender, style, accent and age for best results.
When picking a voice, you’ll need to listen with the caller in mind. How would your ideal target market and your current customer base feel about the voice they’re hearing?
For businesses with a local homebase, you may want to consider finding a voice capable of speaking in the dialect of the region. National and international companies on the other hand, may opt for 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.
Using Your IVR Phone System and On Hold Messaging to Achieve Brand Alignment
Your IVR phone system is an optimal medium for your company to express its sonic brand.
Your sonic brand is a comprehensive sonic architecture that successfully drives home the tone and personality of your brand voice. It can include everything from a distinct sonic logo that features in commercials and digital ads, to the sound effects produced when a customer uses your website or app, to the sorts of playlists streamed in-store and at company events.
Your sonic brand should be top of mind when you’re mapping out the hold music and voice over messaging for your IVR system.
IVR Phone System Sonic Branding Example 1: The Fitness Company
Let’s say you’re a fitness-oriented lifestyle brand that seeks to energize your customers and motivate them to seize the day. In the casting call for your IVR phone system voice over, you can promote this attitude by specifying your need for voice actors who possess athletic, inspirational, or enthusiastic voices.
You may have these sonic qualities embodied in other mediums. For instance, perhaps each time your webpage is clicked, a sound effect marked by a feeling of motion and achievement is activated.
This sonic branding element also ought to be embodied in your IVR phone system, where, for instance, you may use upbeat pop tracks as your hold music.
IVR Phone System Sonic Branding Example 2: The Pet Food Vendor
Maybe you’re a pet food vendor who specializes in providing medicine and nutritional supplements to pets who are unwell, and your average customer may be upset or in an uneasy state when they call to place an order.
This music that scores your company’s digital video ads online should be reused as the hold music for your IVR phone system to provoke sound recall in your customer base.
For your phone tree, you may decide to seek out a voice actor who specializes in a sincere or informative style of vocal performance. This will ideally make your customer’s call as painless and easy to navigate as possible.
In addition, let’s say you offer the option of purchasing your products via a voice-activated device such as Amazon Echo or Google Home. Once a transaction is completed using a voice device, your brand’s sonic logo—a rising scale of musical notes accompanied by the bark of a healthy dog—will sound, reinforcing your brand identity from a sonic standpoint.
Helping Voice Actors Understand Your Brand Before Recording Your IVR Phone System
When directing a voice actor how to read your script, it helps to share information about what makes your company stand out. Outlining your company values can also be informative, as vocal qualities will often need to emulate this vibe, for instance, of being trustworthy, approachable, and friendly.
You want the voice actor to be able resonate with your audience on a personal level because their voice needs to build trust and manage expectations for callers on the line.
Think of several adjectives that describe your tone, attitude, and disposition. After all, the voice you choose will be an extension of your team. You’ll want the recorded voice on the IVR phone and on hold system to resemble the way that your customer service team speaks.
Auditioning vocal talent by 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 invite your customers into conversation. You can learn a lot by listening to samples, and, in doing so, may finally find your voice.
On Hold Music Examples from Real Brands That Stand Out From the Crowd
Certain brands may opt to distinguish themselves with innovative hold music that enhances their brand’s sonic identity.
For example, the co-founder and creative director of UberConference wrote and performed the tongue-in-cheek track “I’m On Hold” to poke fun at the act of impatiently waiting for a conference call to begin.
UberConference had the song play while users waited for their sessions to start, who were then pleasantly surprised that the song achieved something most companies’ hold music so rarely does: using humor to amuse its listeners and boost their spirits.
Another creative use of music comes via ecommerce platform Shopify, whose hold music is none other than a cover of “Yearnings of the Wind.” The track, originally composed for and popularized by the 1995 role-playing game Chrono Trigger, shows how the company pays homage to vintage gaming culture, which is characterized by imagination, adventure, and close-knit community. While it’s probable that most listeners calling Shopify won’t be able to identify the track’s origins, it does serve as a special Easter egg for gamers who are able to make the connection.
How to Format Your On Hold Script
For an average IVR phone system where customers are on hold for 1-3 minutes, it’s wise to have at least two courtesy messages and two marketing messages, with each message timing out to precisely 30 seconds (:30).
Hold music should play in between the messages for 30 seconds (:30). This will result in two minutes of voice over and two minutes of uninterrupted music play, granting you a total of four minutes of on hold messaging.
Customers are most comfortable with predictable patterns, so adhering to consistently timed intervals may unconsciously contribute to a sense of ease about the on hold experience.
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 four different courtesy messages and four different marketing messages.
On Hold Script Example:
Thank you for calling Extreme Sports Gear and Mountain Bikes. We’re glad that you called and we appreciate your business. In respect of your time, a customer service representative will take your call shortly so you can get back to the great outdoors.
* Music in between messages for 30 seconds to your listening audience *
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Looking for more sample scripts? Check out our on hold, auto attendant, or IVR phone system voice over sample scripts.
Additional Considerations for Scripting Your IVR Phone System
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 who 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.
Your IVR phone system voice over should also always include a message that thanks your caller for waiting. Maintaining a positive relationship with your customers is key, so when they are taking time out of their busy schedule to call you, then you should treat them with the utmost respect, make evident that you are thankful for their business, and welcome their feedback.
Your IVR Phone System and On Hold Voice Over Should Reinforce Your Sonic Brand
The importance of sonic branding is only growing in today’s commercial sphere. Designing your brand’s soundscape will necessarily involve putting careful consideration into hold music, messages, and an IVR phone system that aligns with your brand’s sonic identity.
Remember that your brand has a voice, and that this voice is often what will be greeting customers when they contact you over the phone. Do you have an articulate, authoritative voice that will command a customer through the various branches of your phone tree, or are you a youthful, relatable voice that Millennial customers will place trust in?
The tips and tricks detailed here will help you create the most effective IVR phone systems and capitalize on a captive audience. Rome wasn’t built in one day, and neither will your powerhouse IVR phone system. The main takeaway here is to be true to the company’s brand when hiring your voice actor, and script them with vocabulary and a tone that’s congruent with your sonic brand.
Explore voice actors to hire for your IVR phone system voice over job today.