Did you know that in the mid-1980s, The Coca-Cola Company reformulated their flagship soft drink formula? However, consumers reacted negatively to the company's effort to address increased competition. As loyal customers began to hoard "old" Coke, its prices surged. Coca-Cola then backtracked by gradually retiring the "new" Coke.
This marketing lesson illustrates the old saying: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". The same could be said for recorded voice prompts. Like Coca-Cola's tried-and-true recipe, consumers want a familiar and predictable telephone experience with the brands that they trust. Making sudden or off-brand changes will only serve to confuse or alienate loyal customers!
Join us to discover why voice prompt are important, learn about best practices for recorded messages, and get an overview of the top 10 voice prompts that customers expect to hear every time.
What is the importance of voice prompts?
Voice prompts are an essential part of the customer experience. Good voice prompts can help set your company apart from competitors and make it easier for customers to interact with your brand using their phones. People contact your business because they want something done, so make it a frictionless and pleasant experience for them!
For example, reporting a lost or stolen credit card is always one of the first prompts in a bank's IVR system. Financial institutions know that misplacing a credit card is an unfortunate experience and that speed is of the essence to prevent unauthorised charges in the meantime. Hence, the flow of recorded messages helps customers make a report quickly with minimum fuss.
You can also use voice prompts in a variety of ways to greet your customers in a way that is unique to your brand. For example, if you're running television, radio and online ads that feature a funny mascot or famous spokesperson for your brand, the same person can lend their voice to your recorded greetings for a more consistent customer experience overall.
Finally, voice prompts are a great way for businesses to connect with consumers on a personal level. Recorded messages let people know they are being heard, that someone is listening, and that they are not alone in their journey. So, use pre-recorded messages to let callers know what options are available to them and to confirm their choices. For example:
● "Press 3 to speak to us about delivery and shipping questions."
● "We've received your request to activate overseas use of your credit card."
● "You're being connected with the next available reservations concierge."
Implementing telephone voice prompts
"But I don't have a fancy IVR system or know how to add voice prompts to my customer experience," you say. No problem! Using a business communications platform like CINNOX, you can get started with very little capital outlay and risk. Plus, the user-friendly interface means that anyone can easily voice prompts to telephone interactions.
If you are getting started with voice prompts, you don't even have to record your own messages or hire a voice actor. The advanced text-to-speech feature enables you to type or paste your voice message and it will be converted to a spoken form. What this means is that the sound of your voice messages will be consistent every time, and that you can quickly add or edit voice messages whenever you need to.
Voice prompts are also played at important times during the call process. You need not pay for a fully featured IVR system if you only want to have aural prompts to inform callers where they are in the calling process:
• Greetings. A welcome message that greets callers.
• Waiting. Music or a message that plays while a caller is on hold.
• Voicemail. A message to ask callers to leave a voice mail message.
• End. A thank you and goodbye message to the caller.
To learn more about voice prompts in CINNOX, visit this link.
Best practices for voice prompts
Simply adding voice prompts or an IVR system will not automatically improve the customer experience. Like tweaking a classic recipe, poor implementation or a flawed marketing strategy can backfire badly for your brand. Here are some best practices to follow so that you leave a good impression on customers with your recorded voice prompts.
1. Keep it brief and simple
The best voice prompts are no more than two sentences long. Any longer than that and you risk losing the caller's attention before they even get to what matters most: communicating information about your business. Time is truly money. Short voice prompts help customers get to where they think they want to be with a minimum of fuss and roadblocks.
Which would you rather hear whenever you call your regular bank?
❌ "Welcome to Generic Bank, winner of the Best Online Financial Institution Award for 5 years in a row. We know small and medium-sized businesses like yours and we appreciate your patronage. Please choose from the following options."
✔️ "Thank you for calling Generic Bank. Please choose from the following options."
2. Be consistent with branding
Use branding elements like tone and language style consistently throughout all communications channels, including recorded voice prompts. This will help reinforce brand awareness while also providing uniformity across channels, so customers know immediately when they are interacting with voice prompts, IVR and agents from your unique company.
For example, if your travel and hospitality brand refer to customers as "guests, " use it throughout your spoken and written communication. Jumping between "vacationer", "holiday maker", "patron" or "client" will look off-brand when you use it and will only confuse your real guests. Here are some examples of how to use terms consistently:
• "ABC Resorts welcomes vacationers like you."
• "The needs of holiday makers drive every interaction at ABC Resorts."
• "We strive to please our clients and keep them returning to ABC Resorts."
• "ABC Resorts welcomes guests like you."
• "The needs of guests drive every interaction at ABC Resorts."
• "We strive to please our guests and keep them returning to ABC Resorts."
3. Use clear language
While English is the world's most spoken language, Mandarin, Hindi and Spanish are close runners-up! Whichever language you are using to record your voice prompts, be sure to use simple language and clear pronunciations that first-time callers can understand. This means avoiding jargon and not making any assumptions about callers:
❌ "Please press 2 if you are having trouble with your bicycle's chain ring, derailleurs or crank set."
✔️ " Please press 2 if you are having trouble riding your bicycle."
4. Use humour carefully
Not every customer appreciates humour when they simply want to get things done over the phone. A banking and financial institution, for example, should not use humour if they want to nurture trust and transparency with their clients. On the other hand, an offbeat B2C consumer brand can let its personality shine with funny voice actors and music to match!
5. Manage voice prompts in one place
If you are using a platform like CINNOX for your customer experiences and contact centre, you can easily manage all your voice prompts in one place. When you don't have to deal with different systems for prompts during the call process or an IVR, you can ensure that the same voice actor is used for all your recordings, for example.
Ten most common voice prompt greetings
The purpose of voice prompts is to inform callers where they are in the call process or to provide a self-service channel with an IVR system. If their question is complex or requires the assistance of an expert, callers should have the option to speak with a live agent. Here are ten examples of voice prompts that you have heard before.
1. "Welcome to [Company Name]."
This greeting is short, direct, and friendly. It reminds the customer to whom they are talking to before they even start interacting with the IVR. It also makes it clear that your business wants to provide quality service. Lastly, it ties back into your brand by using your company name in place of something generic like “hello” or no recorded greeting prompt at all.
2. "Our business hours are…."
This recorded prompt is best used when you want to be upfront with customers that your contact centre is not running 24/7 or that you do not use an IVR system. While callers may be disappointed that their call cannot be answered immediately, they now know about your operational hours and understand that they can seek answers again.
3. "Please choose from one of the following options."
Your IVR should immediately present a high-level overview of the options available to the caller. Your workflow should help customers narrow down their issues or question so that the best resolution or agent can be presented to help them. For example, is the consumer calling about their motor car, personal accident, hospitalisation or life insurance policy?
4. "Press 0 if you wish to speak to a customer care representative."
You should always provide an option for callers to speak with a live agent. While an IVR works as a self-service channel, not all enquiries can be answered using pre-recorded prompts. Customers may not want to browse your IVR, they may not know which option best suits their enquiry, or they may simply prefer the warmth and efficacy of a human touch!
5. "Please hold while we transfer you."
After selecting the product or department that best matches the caller's enquiry, this message serves to confirm the choice they made. Ideally, this recorded message should be used where the call can be answered in three rings or less as it suggests that an agent is available to take the call immediately. For longer waits, use the following recorded greeting.
6. "Thank you for your patience, an agent will be with you shortly."
If a caller's enquiry cannot be answered within three rings, this waiting prompt should be played to acknowledge that the caller is waiting and that they will be served soon. Do note that a specific wait time is not given but the expected time frame for a response is within a few minutes. For extended wait times, look to use the following recorded message.
7. "Thank you for holding. Your call is very important to us, and an agent will be with you shortly."
Another variation of the previous waiting prompt. In addition to thanking the caller for their patience, you are also acknowledging that you want to help with the first-time resolution of their enquiry. After all, if the customer drops the call, they will either leave dissatisfied with the enquiry unresolved or add to the calling queue when they call back later.
8. "All of our agents are currently assisting other customers, please hold on the line or call back later."
This is the waiting prompt that few customers want to hear! You are being honest about the long wait time by playing this voice prompt. While still not providing a time frame, you are explaining the cause of the wait (that could be due to peak calling periods, a promotion or an event) and giving the caller an option to hold or call again later during off-peak hours.
9. "You have reached the voicemail of…"
Not all enquiries can be answered by a team of agents. Some enquiries may be routed to the finance department who can answer questions about invoices, refunds and charges, for example. In case they are not in the office or unavailable, a voicemail message serves to give a name to the caller and allows them to leave a message for later follow-up.
10. "Thanks for calling [Company Name]. Good bye!"
A variation of the welcome greeting, this end prompt concludes the conversation on a good note by thanking the customer. In addition to refreshing the caller's memory about which company they interacted with, it is putting customer service in front by showing the customer that you appreciate their patronage.
Review your voice prompts for better experiences
Voice prompts should be seen as part of the entire customer experience. As a phone channel, it complements all your other channels when customers have enquiries that need to be answered. While there is scope for creativity in recording voice prompts, make sure you address what customers expect with these top ten voice prompts for a start.