When clients send me IVR trees to voice, the scripts are already written, usually very methodically crafted, debated over – even hotly contested among groups of decision makers within companies. In extreme cases, the script has even made its way through the legal department for final approval.

It’s a rare thing when prospective clients approach me *before* the script is written – and when they do, I implore them to be clear on a few things before they even open a word document and start typing their phone tree.

  1. Who Are You? Nailing down your company’s identity – the image your company strives for, the principles you represent, and the type of people you attract as staffers – will help in drafting a phone script which accurately tells callers the story of your company – and gives them a heads up as to what it will be like to interact with you.
  2. Who’s Calling, Please? Ever hear the saying: “Don’t sell the product – sell the problem.” It applies not only to advertising – it’s essential to establish before you write your IVR script, as well. You need to be crystal-clear on who your customer base is, and why they’re calling. Rather than just have “For this, press that” routine choices, why not think about the top five reasons that anyone would call your company – and list those, in priority sequence, in your phone tree?
  3. I Hear You. For bonus points, if you can include some form of empathy to your caller’s situation, you’ll be well on your way to a fantastic IVR. From the auto body shop who acknowledges that anyone who calls them is likely not having a great day (and adopts a “we’ll take care of you” attitude in their IVR) to a wedding photographer who imparts – through her carefully-crafted and relatable IVR — that your wedding day is pure magic – and this photographer will do nothing but add to the magic of that day – these are cases where the client *really thought* about the impact their IVR can make on the caller, and capitalized on that.

The days of a phone tree which merely “assorts” callers is happily gone. Clients of mine are getting more and more inventive about designing their IVRs – these are true gateways to companies, and definitely tell callers what their company is all about. Build your call flow on this strong foundation, and I guarantee: you’ll have happier customers when they’re eventually connected to a live agent, and you will have created a memorable caller experience.

Allison Smith is a professional telephone voice, heard on platforms for Cisco, Vonage, ShoreTel, Bell Canada, Cincinnati Bell, Mitel, and the Asterisk Open Source PBX. Web: www.theivrvoice.com. Twitter: @voicegal