Offbeat Clients Need IVR Too….

Allison Smith 06_Telco_HighRes

In my career as a professional telephone voice, I can tell you that the work is fairly formulaic — almost everybody requires a front-end (“greeting”) message, a message once people get to their various department selections, an after-hours greeting, and occasionally, an extended absence greeting.  That’s it. Sometimes, there’s deviation from that, but not often. Pretty straightforward!

What can really shake up my day is when I’m in middle of recording something, and I can’t believe I’m actually saying it. Sure, there are the big corporations and mainstream businesses I record for — but every now and then I’ll record conference intro prompts for meetings of tin-foil-hat societies banding together to thwart the dangerous rays being emitted via Keith Olbermann or from the pizza ovens at Sbarro’s. I voiced some prompts recently which assured the callers that they are automatically a litigant in a class-action lawsuit if they were prisoners who were strip-searched in a particular cell block of a certain prison during a specificed span of time. I voiced an entire IVR system for a dog (“If you are one of Scout’s friends from the neighborhood, bark once..”), and when I voiced the IVR system for a noted Los Angeles divorce attorney, and joked that a prominent celebrity — who is famous for her multitudinous and messy divorces — should have her own extension, the office administrator who hired me to do the system insisted that I tack that onto the end.

The oddest moment was a few years ago, when my phone rang one morning, and a woman from San Fransisco explained she was interested in having me voice her phone options. She asked if I would be open to calling her existing system and giving her an estimate. No problem! I dial in — and don’t you know —  she’s a Call Girl. On her opening greeting, she had a veritable menu of everything she does and *does not* do (and how the items on the *does* menu costs extra outside of a certain radius.) Stymied, conflicted, and feeling very, very Amish, I called her back and respectfully passed on the job. I explained that I have a pretty high-profile clientele, and it just wouldn’t be a good venue for my voice. Frustrated, she sighed and said: “You’re the *fifth* voice talent to turn me down!”

I was *fifth* on the list? Now I was really depressed.

Have you encountered some strange/offbeat/unusual phone trees? Write me a comment and let me know about it.

Next blog: IVR 101 — some basics for those thinking of delving into writing IVR prompts.



  1. Chris Tooley Said:

    I’m guessing one of those most boring jobs was recording what had to have been the most mind-numbing recording projects you’ve done… all those categories and sub-categories for Unwired Buyer. I know those had to be an exhausting.

    • voicegal Said:

      Are you kidding? Those are great! With your permission, I might write about my Unwired Buyer experiences….me telling *me* I’ve outbid on a handbag! Almost crashing my car trying text in a higher bid…! Itotally want to blog about that….

      • Chris Tooley Said:

        You’d have to ask Eric, but I highly doubt he’d have a problem with it.

    • voicegal Said:

      I’ll run it past him!

      Allison Smith

      Customized Voice Recordings for the Telecommunications Industry

  2. Brian McManus Said:

    My favorite prompt from you is still “I’m tired of whispering sweet lovings in your ear, go find a real girl!” When I worked at Q Comm in 2003 I had Allison voice our whole system and to really get our money’s worth we added about 50 prompts to end. Some were used to mock our coworkers, or others to notify us when the coffee pot had finished brewing.
    I was surprised at some of the things she would say without laughing! She’s by far the most professional and most FUN voice talent I’ve worked with.

    • voicegal Said:

      Brian —

      You are a lamb — I had so much fun voicing those crazy, offbeat prompts. Don’t get me wrong: I really get into the Zen of the run of the mill “Press 1 for accounting..” prompts — but those which depart into a bit of a crazy tangent — I love them, and I love that people trust me enough to let me “play”.

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