About a year ago, I recorded an IVR for a small independent dry cleaning business – not really a Mom and Pop company; they were located in outlets across three States, and were doing very well – they prided themselves on fitting in seamlessly into the communities they served and they were at just the right size for their comfort level. When I recorded their system, a request for a total re-record came in (never a good thing) but their reason for the redo was unique and sticks with me to this day: my usual professional tone was seen as too “highbrow” for them. Created too much of a “big company” impression. They didn’t want to be “Martinizing”; they wanted to sound “local”….friendly….and accessible.
This is in sharp contrast with how *most* companies I voice for would like to come across – I would estimate that 80% of the companies who hire me to voice their systems are small and would like to sound bigger. Almost all firms have their eye on growth; the best way to do that is to create the impression that they’re already there.
A common technique to “manufacture” the impression that a company is bigger than it really is, is to invent a lengthy menu of mailboxes which technically don’t exist – an impressive, vast menu which goes on for 12, 13, 14 options or more – all in an attempt to articulate to the caller that they are legitimate; the caller has reached a well-staffed company who needs *that many* mailboxes to keep all requests organized and processed appropriately.
Many (or all) of the mailboxes will re-route to a single point of contact, but as pointed out by Matt Florell of Vicidial (who, along with Jim Van Meggelen, acts as my “IVR Senseis” for this series of articles – their input has already been invaluable) – it’s easy for the person in charge of monitoring the various mailboxes to overlook one or two of them for a couple of weeks, and “then they end up with 300 voicemails and only notice it when Asterisk hits its limit,” warns Matt. “Sending voicemails to an email address and auto-deleting from Asterisk does help with this,” continues Matt: “..but the flip side to that is that your company’s SPAM filter starts to think these messages are SPAM and deletes them.”
I submit to all IVR designers the importance of keeping the opening menu as simple as possible to navigate around – and this means to only feature the mailboxes which are actually assigned. It respects the caller’s time; it streamlines the system, and it prevents missed messages and botched follow-through. The idea that a more impressive feeling is created with a menu full of unnecessarily bloated options is counter what you’ve possibly encountered in your own telephone experiences – personally, I’m usually grateful for three or four simple options, narrowing down the likelihood in my mind that I have chosen the correct department for my inquiry.
Next installment in The IVR Clinic’s “15 Commandments of IVR” is #3: Keep Things Simple.
Thanks for reading!