It’s Broke — And We Ain’t Fixin’ It

The link to a New York Times article was sent to me a couple of weeks ago by a client of mine — uReach Technologies, out of Holmdel, NJ ( — they supply voice mail service to many telephony companies, among many others, Verizon. They’ve hired me for years to voice not only platforms for Verizon, but for numerous other carriers. Here’s the link to the NYT article:

The author, David Pogue, is a well-known technology writer, an emmy-winning technology correspondent for CBS News, and the leader of the “Take Back The Beep” campaign, inspiring some of the major carriers to — in some cases — completely eliminate the 15-seconds of instructions before leaving a message, or at least greatly reducing the instruction wait time with other carriers. 
In his article, he mentioned being sent an e-mail from a marketing executive at uReach; the title of the press release being: “Ninety-Eight Percent of Users Want a Better Way to Get Voice Mail” — echoing Pogue’s own frustration with the mind-numbing (and revenue-generating) wait, listening to the same old instructions. 

Why should I — a person whose bread and butter is voicing voicemail trees (and the longer and lengthier the better!) — applaud Mr. Pogue’s efforts to reduce the laborious and time-consuming IVR trees? Those who have been following this blog since its inception last Fall know that I am an evangelist of “Keep It Simple.” Get to the point; say what you need to say in as few steps as possible; don’t underestimate how short people’s attention spans are (mine included), and even though a lengthy voicemail tree generates money (Pogue estimates: “If Verizon’s 87 million customers leave or check messages twice each business day, that comes out to $750 million of airtime a year..”) realise that listening to long menus is a collosal waste of time and productivity.

Mike Comstock — my contact at uReach and the source who brought the atricle to my attention — sent it to me in a sprit of “See why your scripts are so wordy?”, but Mike had some great further thoughts on the issue, especially the aspect of supplying an awesome technology, which gets hidden behind an old interface:

“I like to refer to the interface as a skin,” Mike explains. “If a web page looks unattractive, cluttered, confusing, etc, then it doesn’t matter how cool the underneath technology is. If the skin is ugly, then customers aren’t going to stick around to discover the cool stuff underneath. Similar parallels hold for the IVR skin. No matter how professional you or any other voice talent may be, if the script/call flow is poor, then the product suffers.”

There’s other voice talent? I digress.

We’re all after the perfect blending of an outstanding technology that drives a system which is a dream to navigate aaround; never frustrating, not delliberately trying to bill more minutes by asking callers to listen to Herculan menus; hopefully, a soothing, professional, genuine-sounding voice provides the icing on the cake and creates a lasting impression and even a company identity.

Join me here for my next blog, where I will investigate a conundrum which had plagued professional voice talent since the birth of sound recording: Why is it So Darn Hard To Sound Like a Real Person?



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