Like them or loathe them, we encounter automated telephone systems regularly, whether we make calls to small or large organisations for whatever reason, or to telephone a goods or service provider, to phoning your friend Bert with the rather bizarre personal voicemail greeting they always use and wonder why they’ve actually got any friends! But are you familiar with the various different options that are available, the terminology, and how they
This article sets them out, with a little humour thrown in… There are 5 distinct types:
1. Voicemail. We all know this one. Available on answering machines and mobiles. Many SME’s have a professionally voiced voicemail greeting that enhances their business image, but for personal users can usually record their own, even like ‘Bert’s’:
Hi. I’m may be home, I don’t know. I’m just avoiding someone I dislike. Leave me a message, and if I don’t call back, it’s you.
2. On-Hold Messaging. You’ll hear a series of courtesy messages on a loop such as:
“I’m sorry, all of our advisors are busy right now…most of them have been made redundant, on paternity leave, gardening leave, or having a duvet day…those that are left will answer you as soon as possible…please bear with us it’s been one of those days…”
- Audio Marketing. The same as On-Hold Messaging, but whilst you’re waiting to be put through, more and more companies are using the opportunity to inform you about any latest news/updates/products/services etc…
- Auto Attendant. You might be forgiven if at first glance this might be someone who automatically cleans the car or the local public lavatory! These are automated voice over messages that act as a filtering system in order to put you through to the right department, such as:
Press 1 if You Want to Buy Something;
Press 2 if You Want to Whinge about Something, or;
if You Can’t Remember What You Were Calling About in the First Place as you’ve had to Wait so Long, then it’s 3.etc…activated by using your keypad of course.
5. IVR – No, this isn’t a fertility treatment! – it stands for Interactive Voice Response. This system allows computer interaction through the use of voice response and touch tone input on your keypad. For example, the voice over might ask you to:
Please provide your account number, either by speaking, or using your keypad now…
followed by something like:
Spray that again would you, I didn’t quite catch that?
I’m sorry, I’m unable to accept that level of abuse. Putting you through to an advisor now…
You get the idea… ;>) . Hopefully, by the end of your telephone journey with most of these options you’ll get to speak to a real person, like this one:
I think the key to all of these options though, is to make sure all messages are regularly reviewed and updated, making sure they’re still relevant and, more importantly, don’t leave the customer hanging on a dead end, frustrated. The companies who get it right, such as Vodafone for example, seem to review and update their on-hold/IVR system messages at least weekly, if not daily. Executed well, like this, can work extremely effectively in getting the caller through to the right person in the shortest possible time – and even add in a very brief audio marketing/upselling opportunity.
To hear my latest on-hold/IVR/audio marketing demo, please click here.