Archive for February 22, 2010

What “Flavor” is Your Company?

You probably gave a great deal of thought to your website, and the image you wanted to convey to customers the moment they landed on your page. You knew that people would make an instant (and sometimes unforgiving) decision about whether or not they wanted to delve deeper into doing business with you, based on seemingly ethereal factors like the layout, the colors you chose for the backgrounds, how slick your logo looks, or even something as arbitrary as what font you chose for the text.

The same kind of soul-searching and exploration into what “type” of company you are — and what the end-result “flavor” you want to sample to prospective customers — comes into play when deciding on IVR scripts for your company’s *other* front end — your phone system. It amazes me when — during a phone consult with someone who is interested in me voicing their system — I ask what “mood”, “feel” or “vibe” they’re trying to create with their prompts….and the question is met with silence. Or stammering. Or the admission: “That’s a *great* question! I hadn’t really given that any thought…”

Just like those first golden seconds of someone landing on your page, the opening greeting on your company’s IVR sets the tone; establishes who the company is, and can make a powerful impression — positive or negative.

Are you a fun, casual, upstart? A stoic grandfather in your industry? Family-run? One guy in his basement who wishes to sound like Apple? Is your product bubbly, fun, and playful? Or would your customers — who are calling to find just that right ball hitch — be confused by a fun, bubbly, playful voice welcoming them to Ball Hitch Inc? Even an industry like Funeral Homes — where a certain amount of delicacy and soothing is always called for — has room for “identy” if the Funeral Home is appealing to a younger market, instead of those catering to families who have been using the same home for generations and expect to hear organ music behind their IVR every time. You need to be crystal clear in your mission and know exactly where your company stands image-wise in your market — and have the ability to convey that to the voice talent who will be voicing your script.

Here’s some audio examples of what I mean.

This is me voicing in a straight-up, old-school telco automaton style: we mean business, we have no time to mess around, every “T” is crossed, and we make sure every “T” is crossed for you if you decide to do business with us(just click on the link below):


The voice is neutral, almost devoid of personality; there’s no commentary; it’s just a straight-ahead we’re-busy-people-but-we’ll-look-after-you-too kind of delivery.

Some firms are young, over-caffienated, fun,irreverent, and you just know from calling their office that there *has* to be beanbag chairs in the boardroom:


Shoosh! You can almost *smell* the Red Bull, can’t you? Anyone tired of dealing with stuffy, conservative companies will listen to that IVR and say: “This is more like it. These guys get me.” Those looking for someone to design a plain-Jane brochure for them using stock images and Goldenrod paper will run screaming from this company — thereby pre-screening your clientele, to a certain extent.

There are many possibilities and many stops along the way in-between those examples — I try to default to a confident, friendly, professional timbre unless directed along a specific path — I did an IVR for an independent publishing company who focuses on mystery novels, and to my delight, they wanted me to read their IVR in an almost “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night”-style: What fun! It tells their callers that they’re creative, open and willing to play, and implies that you, too, should have an innate spirit of fun and creativity, in order for you and the company to be good fit.

It bears consideration — when drafting your phone prompts — the question of what *kind* of company you are, and what message you are endeavoring to convey with all promotional materials — you’re establishing an identity. And while your web presence takes priority, it’s a good idea to include your IVR prompts as a vital part of your “identity package”.

I’ve blogged before about how people can start a career in voice-over in general; next post will be geared to voice talent who are interested in working more in IVR voicing — it can be a very rewarding niche with untold job regularity and security…that’s right: I said “job security”!