Let's face it, in any small medium or large enterprise the decisions made, both strategic and tactical, require careful consideration. That's why I find it amazing that companies still allow their primary contact channel to be represented in an ad hoc way.

When brand differentiation is so vital to your company why do you still ask Mavis from the call centre to be the voice of your IVR? You know what I mean. For many enterprises the concentration of effort is online and increasingly on social media. That's where the money is being spent. And yet the majority of contacts still come through the phone and hit the IVR first.

Now, I've got nothing against Mavis. It's just that she's not trained as a voice talent and she hasn't been selected in as careful a way as you would select any spokesperson for television or radio advertising. Consequently she does not necessarily represent the brand.

In a world where a positive or negative brand impression is worth serious money, why do companies squander the opportunity to differentiate through this vital channel? No serious marketing team would employ Uncle Harry to design the website, so why just plunk Mavis down in front of a microphone and expect her to be the ultimate choice.

So what's the answer? It's what's called persona: not just the voice, but the consistent character of the system. By that I mean, the brand representation through the voice as well as the wording of the prompts and how the customer is handled when using the system. From efficient call routing, self-service and even error recovery, it all relates to what the consumer takes away from each over the phone contact. And it reflects directly on the bottom line and the brand.A well-designed persona increases call completion and usability aside from giving a positive experience. Increased call completion and first time resolution means higher NPS scores and lower AHT.

Research has shown (Reeves and Nass) that a caller can infer a wide variety of traits to a voice heard for only a second or two. These traits include age, education, and register (social standing: is the persona a servant, and equal, or superior). to be most effective, these traits should compliment the brand and reflect the ingoing expectations of the user group. An entertainment company might want a more casual persona whereas a financial institution might want something a little more “buttoned down”.

Whatever the persona your company decides on, employ research with real users to gain an external view while using the inputs from brand and marketing to get the internal view. And don't forget to visit the call centre to see how the best agents speak to your customers now. You might even get some useful tips from Mavis!


Topics: IVR Design