About the author

If you’ve listened to the public airwaves, used an automated phone system, participated in a phone survey, or even used a talking thermostat, you’re familiar with Allison Smith. One of the most prevalent telephone voices in the world today, Allison has voiced platforms for Vonage, Bell Canada, Cingular, Verizon, Qwest, Twitterfone, Hawaiian Telcom – as well as being the voice of the Asterisk Open Source PBX. Clients include Marriot Hotels, 3M, Pfizer, Toyota, Victoria’s Secret, Bank of America and EBay among many others. Her website is www.theivrvoice.com and www.theasteriskvoice.com.

Asterisk and the Queen of IVRs: Going strong in 2014 and beyond

I remember it well.

The year was 2003. An email came in from somewhere in Alabama – from incredibly sweet and funny Digium staffers, asking me to do some prompts for a new PBX they were trying to launch. (It was a phone system over the internet, from what I could gather.) The prompts were, for the most part, normal. Press this, press that. There were some odd, offbeat IVRs at the end which were kooky and fun. They asked for these but said, “only if you have time!” I actually kind of enjoyed doing them, especially after day-in and day-out … Continued

Asterisk Sound Files 101 — Part 2!

In April, I blogged on the Digium site with a “primer” on Asterisk Sound files, and interviewed Digium’s Rod Montgomery, Product Manager for Digium, about the basic nature of Asterisk files. Rod never ceases to amaze me with the depth of his knowledge, but also the accessibility with which he explains things. For him to be able to discuss technical topics in depth with those who have a high tolerance for that – but to also adjust his phraseology for those of us less inclined, is an amazing gift. I have many clients who struggle with the technical … Continued

Asterisk Sound Files 101!

Need a little help mastering sound files? In an interview with Digium’s Rod Montgomery, I get him to share some great tips and answers to common questions in this audio file primer, discussing the properties, aspects, and care and feeding of Asterisk prompts.

As a professional in the area of voice talent, I have many clients – especially those new to the process of working with Asterisk – who are a little stymied by the file format characteristics, the attributes of the sound files, and the proper techniques for converting and installing files so they sound the very best … Continued

The 15 Commandments of IVR

Commandment #15: “Write in a Conversational Tone”
This blog entry wraps up my 15-part series – and I’m ending on a topic which excites me the most. As someone who voices telephone prompts on a daily basis, I’m pleased to report a trend in IVR “style” which makes systems more personable, more accessible – and more “human” than ever before.

IVR designers and writers are getting farther and farther away from the “automaton” style of years past – they are less interested in fostering the “robotic”, unemotional voice once thought to be a necessary element in IVR systems, and the … Continued

The IVR Clinic with Allison Smith

The 15 Commandments of IVR

Commandment #14: “Don’t Front-Load Your Opening Prompt With Too Much Information”

You might well wonder – with the number of possible mailboxes and all the various details required to write a cohesive and smoothly-flowing IVR – why there would be so much emphasis on the opening prompt. After all, you have an entire IVR to win people’s confidence, allow them to formulate an opinion about your company, and for your customer to learn all about the company they’re about to do business with, right?
Let me make this point most emphatically, and if you take … Continued