Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a system employed in most companies today that provides an automated voice interface to callers on the phone. While an IT company typically implements such a feature on the telephone exchange as a technical operation, a part of the exercise employs a creative process that projects that brand image.

In this post we will not be looking at the technical aspects of configuring the technology. Instead we will be focussed on planning the content, the voices and what goes behind it in recording.

The process has a logical flow to it and once this method is followed, we achieve consistent results. Here is: 10 steps to creating an IVR for your company

1. Refer to brand guidelines

This is the starting point. Audio branding needs to be thought out just as visual branding is. The guidelines set will state whether a brand needs to come across as luxurious, trendy or corporate. In the visual context, this translates to choice of fonts, colour schemes and design of the company logo. Similary these choices need to be made in everything audio. Before taking the next steps, it is a good understanding of the brand identity and how it intends to project itself.

2. Choose male or female voice

This not a hard choice since there are only two options. Statistically more companies opt for a female voice to interact with their callers. It tends to present a friendlier and more welcoming tone. However, if you prefer a male voice best projects your band image, then that’s still a right choice. It’s totally preferential.

3. Choose language options

This is an important point to consider if your company caters to a multi-cultural consumer base. Having automated messages in the languages of the target markets you cover can add value to relationship building for anyone who calls. In the earlier step you’d already opted for either a male or female voice. For any additional languages, you can stick with the same choice.

4. Choose accents

Your choice of language may not always land you to this subsequent selection. However, in most cases this is a very important point to establish your brand identity. If your company is British or American, it’s important that this reflects in the accent of the chosen voice for your IVR. Even when choosing multiple language artists, accents of different dialects should be chosen to best represent the target audience of the customer base.

5. Deciding the music

If the brand has an audio signature, it must be integrated into a background music score or jingle for the IVR programming. A small mnemonic of a few seconds works perfectly as an audio signature. A music bed that matches the brand identity backs up the voice messaging content. If you choose to go for generic music content as opposed to custom composed music, it should stand in line with the brand identity. In most cases, loungy and easy going music is a better choice than something energetic. You probably want to respect the listeners by not having an “in-your-face” style audio.

6. Decide on whether to have on-hold messages or just plain music

When a person is put on hold, it brings a good opportunity for a company to speak something about itself. It’s also a good space to promote offers and schemes. If multiple languages have been chosen then, this content will need to be replicated for all of them. However, it’s not necessary to have messaging content while a caller is put on hold. Just a music track works too.

7. Write and approve scripts

Before moving on to recording with the talent, scripts are written out and an approval of this must be got from the company. The welcome messages, dialer content as well as any on-hold messages need to be scripted out and a clear line of communication between decision makers is important to avoid any conflicting views after the recording is done. If you choose to go with on-hold messages, there may be a need for those to be updated from time to time depending on the relevance to a season.

8. Record and edit

All the selected languages will eventually be recorded individually in a studio. The studio should provide a couple of voice options that match with the brand identity. The recording engineer and producer need to make sure that they get the right performance out of the artist to fit the brief. The studio should also clarify the pronunciation of the brand name and how it should be said. If there are any other words for which the pronunciation is not certain, it always must be clarified in advance. After the recording of multiple takes, the engineer must edit the best parts to create a smooth flow.

9. Make final masters and formats

The studio will mix the voice track to make it sound clear and balance it with the backing music track. The final mixes need to be optimized for loundness and the engineer will create audio files ready to be sent to the IT company.

10. Deliver and co-ordinate with IT company

The studio needs to confirm with the IT company the details of the audio file format. The bit rate and sample rate of uncompressed files should be double checked as well as the specific file type. For compressed formats, the specific bit rate required should also be checked.