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How an inconsistent IVR persona can damage your brand

How an inconsistent IVR persona can damage your brand

Your IVR could put callers off if it doesn’t sound like your brand. There’s a quick way to fix that: update and re-record your prompts using an appropriate persona.

Here’s a quick CX exercise for you. First, get hold of your company’s brand style guide. (If you’ve never seen it, ask someone in Marketing for a copy.)

Flick to the section on “voice”, and take note of your brand’s voice characteristics. If the guide includes examples, note how they use language and attitude to communicate in the brand voice.

Then, imagine you’re a customer. Call up your IVR and listen to the way it talks to you. Does it sound like the brand voice you’ve just been reading about? Is it consistent with the examples you’ve just seen?

If not, you can bet callers find it a jarring experience. If they’ve formed an impression of your brand from your website, TV ads, marketing campaigns or company representatives they’ve met, they’ll feel uncomfortable if the IVR gives them another impression entirely.

A consistent brand voice creates customer trust

This stuff matters, more than many companies realise. People trust brands that behave consistently.  And when customers trust a brand, a host of great things happen. According to HuTrust, 83% will recommend it to others, 82% will buy again and again, and 50% are prepared to pay more for its products and services.

Conversely, if a customer distrusts or feels uncomfortable with your brand, they’re more likely to jump ship to one that makes them feel more at ease. So the voice of your IVR is business-critical.

If your IVR isn’t consistent with the voice your brand uses elsewhere, it’s time to fix it.

How to fix an inconsistent IVR voice

The fastest and most effective way to do that is to re-write and re-record your prompts using an appropriate voice persona.  It’s one of seven “guerrilla fixes” for a better IVR customer experience outlined in our ebook, 7 Quick, Low-Cost Ways to Take Your IVR from Good to Great. Here’s an excerpt from the relevant chapter:

“Your customers will form a near- instant opinion of your brand from their experience of your IVR.”

Fix #3: Refresh Your IVR Prompts Using an Appropriate Persona

What problem does it fix?

A good IVR provides a brand experience that’s consistent with other channels, including the website, contact centre, customer communications, social media, and in-store or in-branch personnel.

Your customers will form a near-instant opinion of your brand from their experience of your IVR, so it needs to embody the brand in everything from the way the voice sounds, to the words it uses and the way it treats callers. If other channels are friendly, so should the IVR be. If the other channels are polished and professional, that should also be the feeling callers get from the IVR.

Often, the IVR feels nothing like the rest of the brand. It sounds mechanical and unhelpful. It uses strange, unnatural language. There are different messages spoken by different people, not all of them trained voice actors. There’s no consistent ‘persona’ representing your brand.

What does it entail?

This is an exercise in bringing the IVR back on brand, with a professional, helpful persona that reflects your organisation’s values, and gives your callers the information they need without having to resort to other means of getting help.

It involves hiring an appropriate voice actor (or actors, if you need different personas for different markets or demographics) to be the ‘voice’ of the brand; re-writing all of the prompts to be as helpful as possible (ideally using the insights gained in Tactic #1); professionally re-recording them in a studio; deploying the new prompts in the IVR; and testing the results.

What impact will it have?

The new IVR persona will improve brand perception with callers, while streamlined, customer-centric prompts should reduce call resolution times and increase customer satisfaction with the IVR experience.

Case study: Retail pharmacy chain

Even subtle changes to the persona can have a big impact. At one large pharmacy chain we worked with, our tests showed that the persona we initially used for the IVR was causing customers to distrust the system. In turn, that was piling pressure on the contact centre.

The problem was with customers calling to find out if a repeat prescription was ready. For many people who rely on medication, this is a big deal. Knowing when and where they can pick up their prescription is an important and emotive issue in their lives.

But the prompts and persona failed to take that fully into account. They essentially told customers “Your prescription is being prepared and at some point it will be ready, but we can’t tell you when.”

This was true, but the tone of the initial recording failed to convince customers their prescription was really being attended to. That directly increased customers’ propensity to hang up and call back to try to speak to someone to check that that was really the case.

We solved the problem by tweaking the authority level of the persona just for that part of the dialogue. That subtle change in the way those few prompts were recorded led to a demonstrable reduction in the number of people coming back to speak to someone at the contact centre.

Get the complete guide to fixing your IVR, guerrilla-style

There are plenty of ways to tune up the customer experience of your IVR without having to invest in a major upgrade or new platform. For more “guerrilla fixes” like this one, get the full guide: 7 Quick, Low-Cost Ways to Take Your IVR from Good to Great.

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