IVR (Interactive Voice Response) prompts are tricky because they deliver information through sound. The caller is presented with a prompt which has multiple options and they can navigate to their option information by pressing the appropriate key. Putting some thought into how your IVR should function is as important as designing your website as it’s a major touch point for a business’ customers.
4 underlying principles to have in mind:
- Have a predictable numbering system in your IVR menu. For eg. “Press 1 for sales, 2 for support and 3 to connect to our billing department” is much better than “Press 9 for sales, 3 for support and 2 for billing“
- If you’re recording the call, do mention it saying you’re recording this call for legal/ethical reasons
- Always give feedback for a key press, like playing a hold music or playing a voice message saying, “Please hold while we connect your call“
- Modulate tone of voice to indicate the action required of them. For example: Questions should end in a quizzical tone, confirmation should be in an affirmative tone
Find the right voice and tone for your business:
Choosing the right voice and the tone of the voice is imperative as it is reflective of your brand. It also depends to a great extent to the type of audience you expect to call in. Will they like an authoritative voice or a professional voice or a warm and friendly voice? You can set the tone of the call by utilizing the tone of the IVR voice properly.
When conducting business in India, playing an IVR prompt in the local language can help increase trust and confidence in your brand. You can achieve this by playing an uber menu with language choices.
If you aren’t in a mood to spend big bucks for the IVR prompts and still want to make it sound professional, you could use one of the below websites to create an IVR audio. Creating the audio would require the use of Chrome browser and using the Network Pane to download the resources that are loaded on your browser
[DISCLAIMER: Adhere to the TOS of the respective websites and do not create a lot of audio files in a short time and increase the load on their servers]
1) Google’s TTS to create prompts that are lesser than 100 words, like this:
With Google Text-to-Speech you can add multiple male and female voices. This post explains how to use Google’s Text-to-speech.
Creating the audio:
Go to http://www.ispeech.org/text.to.speech and use the Chrome Network Panel method to download.
4) Record using a phone on Exotel:
Listen to yourself singing in the bathroom 😀
Creating the audio:
You can follow the steps listed in our support center for recording an IVR audio using your phone itself
5) Use Exotel’s voice over services:
Creating the audio:
You can request for a voice over for your IVR or greeting from inside of Exotel Dashboard itself, by following the steps to create a voiceover recording in Exotel here
Edit the audio to suit telephones:
I use and recommend Audacity . Audacity is brilliant and is available on Windows, Mac and Linux. Make sure you receive the audio in a lossless format like WAV as otherwise there will be further quality loss when you convert it on to formats like mp3.
Some things in Audacity that you should learn to get a great IVR audio:
1) Selection tool:
If you use one of the websites above, you might have to mix and match different files. So you’ll have to open all the files one by one, and then use the Selection Tool to select the parts you want and then cut/copy and paste them like you will do text in any document processor. More details here in the help document:
2) Removing Background Noise:
Where ever you find any annoying background noise in any section of the audio, select that section using the Selection Tool, select Effect -> Noise Removal. Click on Get Noise Profile and then get rid of the noise.
3) Downsample to 8kHz:
Audio on telephone networks is sampled at 8kHz because years ago, someone decided that 180 Hz to 3.2 kHz range would be sufficient for speech intelligibility while allowing them to multiplex many calls over normal telephone wires . Do listen to your recording after downsampling.
Converting audio to 8kHz mono 16 bit PCM using Audacity:
After importing a wav audio file in Audacity, use the dropdown on the file name to:
1) Set the Sample Rate to 16 bit PCM
2) Set the rate to 8000 Hz.
3) Select “Mono” in the dropdown as stereo audio isn’t supported in telephones.
4) Make sure when you export, the type of the file is “WAV (Microsoft) signed 16 bit PCM”
Now you have a clear understanding on how to create a clear IVR prompts.
If you are interested in trying this for free, sign up for a free trial and use Exotel’s simple-to-use cloud telephony platform and create a multi-level IVR in 20 minutes.