Whenever I am directed in a voiceover session (usually for a broadcast project), I’m always astounded at the level of detail that ad agencies go into to execute a radio spot. They have such a firm understanding of their client’s positioning in the market, their client’s personality, and who the target audience is.

Same with websites: the care and attention given to how a company’s wensite makes them look is exhaustive. Everything “frontward facing” is usually debated, designed, re-designed, and anguished-over painstakingly, often for months.

Why is a company’s IVR left out of that process?

It’s almost as though the IVR is viewed as just “an automated thing that answers the phone.” While that may have been true in the infancy of IVR, it has become a glaring oversight when so much care and attention is devoted to unifying a company’s image and sending a clear message to the customer about what the company represents and what it will be like to transact with them. In that regard, IVR has become the neglected step-child of your brand. Here are three significant things you can do to “clean up” your IVR and make sure it’s an extension of your message:

  1. Your scripting needs to be conversational, natural, and take some chances. If you want the caller to engage with your company, make sure your phone tree script is written to reflect your company’s personality — most often, companies do not want to come across as stuffy or wooden, so make sure your script isn’t bland, featureless copy. If you want it to sound natural — write it that way. And by all means: take chances. IVRs are for more than just directing callers to various departments — show some personality and imagination.

2. Choose the right voice talent — or direct your talent accordingly. Your choice of talent should align with your company’s persona — or (and this can’t be emphasised enough) — most voice talent with experience, and well…talent….are capable of a great many different styles of “read”. Make sure you articulate your company’s “mood” or “feel” to the talent clearly.

3. Listen to your auto attendant while looking at your website. This suggestion seems odd at first — but if there is a disconnect between the persona that you’ve established online and the one that plays to your callers, it will become glaringly evident during this exercize. If your website conveys a fun, irreverent, vibrant company, and your phone tree is plodding along with the standard “Press 1 for this….press 2 for that…” — you’ve got a serious conflict of image.

I urge clients regularly to *really think* about including the often-neglected aspect of their IVR in their corporate “imaging” — it’s an all-important piece in the way a company presents itself.

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