Creating clear and usable IVR prompts that your callers will love

Creating clear and usable IVR prompts that your callers will love

Ankita Barthwal

{Update: This post was edited in September 2018}

 

As a business operator, you will agree that IVR plays a crucial role in providing a personalised customer experience. Consider it as a front door of your business; It is an Automated Phone Response System, which is the first thing that people see, hear and depending on this a customer generally forms an impression about your business.

Your IVR menu when coupled with a well-written and easily understandable voice prompts, enables a customer to seek his way through your phone system. Most of the times, IVR gets a bad rap because of poorly constructed IVR message, inaudible IVR recording, and too much jargon in the  script. This leads to caller frustration and a lost business opportunity.

To help you out, we have compiled some globally acceptable  IVR messages to help you understand how a clear and concise IVR script can do wonders for your business.

Contents

  • Welcome Greeting
  • Main Menu IVR Greeting
  • Waiting IVR Greetings
  • After-Hour Greetings
  • Voicemail Greetings
  • Holiday Closure Greetings
  • Industry Specific IVR Greetings
  • Use Case Specific IVR Greetings
  • Best Practices in IVR Scripts
  • Find The Right Voice And Tone For Your Business
  • Things To Learn In Audacity To Get Great IVR Audio
  •  

    1. Welcome Greeting

    Welcome greeting is the first message that callers hear when they call your company. Having a clearly articulated welcome message for your callers is essential for your business.

    • “Thank you for calling ABC.
    • “Thank you for calling ABC. Don’t forget to check out www.abc.com for a list of our latest specials and events.           
    • “You have reached ABC. Your call is important to us. Please hold while we connect your call.”
    • “Thank you for calling ABC. Please hold, and one of our amazing support agents will answer your call as soon as possible.”
    • “Thank you for calling ABC,  where customer service is our priority.”

    Greeting Template when an existing customer calls-

    • “Hi [Name], happy to hear from you again! If this is regarding your previous purchase [Product name], press 1
    • To repeat the previous order, press 2
    • For any other issues, press 3
    • Press 0 to repeat the menu”

    This is an excellent example of Custom Dynamic IVR, where an existing customer’s phone number is matched to their details from the CRM database, and the IVR script is read out accordingly. Dynamic IVR is not only efficient for the organization, it is also proven to boost customer satisfaction.

     

    2. Main Menu IVR Greeting

    An Interactive Voice Response generally allows the caller to enter commands on the keypad and choose where they would like the call to be directed. This can be a first-time caller who happened to be sitting in front of your website, or an old customer with an enquiry.

    Call Center Departments

    “Hello. Thank you for calling, ABC,[Company Name], where [company slogan].

    • To speak with our sales representative, press 1.
    • To reach a Customer Support agent, press 2.
    • To reach our Finance department, press 3.
    • If you would like to know our regular business hours and location, press 4.
    • If you would like to speak with an Operator, press 0
    • Press 9 to repeat the menu”

     

    NOTE:

    You can also begin the IVR by offering to speak with the agent first as depicted in the example below:

    • “To speak with an agent , press 0”

    This is especially useful for industries such as healthcare, where time is of the essence.

     

    Multi Language Options

    Hello, you have reached ABC [Company Name]. To continue in English, press 1. For Hindi, press 2.

    NOTE

    Depending on the customer’s input, the language for the remaining IVR prompts will be decided.

     

    3. Waiting IVR Greetings

    Your agents may be stocked up with back-to-back calls. It is essential to cater to the current caller but at the same time, you cannot lose a potential customer who is already on the line waiting to connect with an agent. An IVR recording can direct your customer with the next prompts.

    What your callers hear when they enter the waiting queue-

    • “All of our agents are currently busy. Please hold, and we will answer your call as soon as possible.
    • All of our agents are currently assisting other callers
    • Press 1 to leave a message
    • Press 2 to have an agent call you back
    • All of our agents are busy at this time. Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered soon”

    Delay Announcement

    What your caller hears every two minutes that they are in the waiting queue-

    • “Thank you for your patience. All our agents are still busy. Please be online.
    • All of our agents are currently assisting other callers.
    • Press 1 to leave a message
    • Press 2 to have an agent call you back.
    • Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold. Our agent will speak to you shortly”

    Full Waiting Queue Message

    What the caller hears when the waiting queue is full.

    • “We are currently experiencing high call volume. Please leave a message with your name and phone number and we will return your call as soon as possible”
    • “All of our agents are currently busy. Please leave a message after the beep and one of our agents will return your call as soon as possible”
    • “We apologize but we are currently experiencing high call volume. Please leave a message after the beep or chat with us online at abc.com [company website]”
    • “All of our agents are currently assisting other callers at this time. Please leave a message after the beep and we will return your call as soon as possible”

     

    Maximum Wait Time Reached Message

    What the caller hears when they have been exceeded maximum amount of time while waiting in the queue

    • “You have exceeded the waiting limit for this queue. Please hang up and try your call again.
    • “All of our agents are still busy. Sorry for the inconvenience. Please hang up and try your call again.”
    • “All of our agents are still busy. Please hang up and try your call again or reach out to us via email at [email address]”

     

    4. After-Hour Greetings

    An IVR script informing your customers of non business hours is as important as a welcome greeting. Your customer is investing his/her valuable time to reach you but is not aware of your non-operational hours. You can inform the caller that your office is closed, state your business’ operating hours, and provide options to avoid losing a customer or a new business opportunity.

    “Thanks for calling ABC [Company Name]. We regret to inform you that our office is currently closed. Our business hours are from Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 8 PM Indian Standard Time.”

    • “To leave a message in our general voice mailbox, press 1. A representative will contact you within a business day.
    • For information about business hours, press 2.
    • You may also email us at [company email].
    • For more information about our products and services, please visit us at [website].
    • To repeat this message, press the * key”

     

    5. Voicemail Greetings

    Every caller is a new business opportunity, and putting your caller on hold for long can lead to bad publicity for your business. This is why companies now provide callers with an in/out of business hours voicemail option. A simple IVR message that greets the caller before transferring him to the designated voicemail during the applied operation times of the business.

    In Business Hours

    • “You have reached the voicemail of ABC[company name]. Please leave a detailed message, and our executive will return your call as soon as possible”
    • “Thank you for calling ABC[company name]. All our agents are busy assisting other callers. Please leave a message with your name and phone number, and we will return your call as soon as possible”

    Out of Business Hours

    • “Thank you for calling ABC[company name]. We are currently unavailable to take your call. Please leave a message after the beep, or contact us during business hours: Monday through Friday between 9AM and 5PM Indian Standard Time. Thank you!”
    • “Thank you for calling ABC[company name]. You have reached this message because it is after business hours. Please leave a message after the beep, or call back between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm Indian Standard Time, Monday through Friday”

     

    6. Holiday Closure Greetings

    Your caller might not be aware of your company holiday calendar. You can have a separate IVR recording which will take the caller to the next prompt.

    • “Thank you for calling ABC[Company Name]; we are currently closed in observance of [holiday name]. We will return on [Date] at 8 AM Indian Standard Time.
    • To leave a voicemail, please press 2.
    • To repeat this menu, please press the # key.
    • [If no response after a few seconds] Goodbye”

    After Pressing 2

    • “Thank you for your message, our executive will contact you upon our return”

     

    7. Industry Specific IVR Greetings

     

     Product focussed company

    “Thanks for calling ABC [Company Name]. For more information about our products, press 1”.

    • “If you have troubleshooting questions, press 2.
    • For billing enquiries, press 3.
    • For a demo appointment, press 4.
    • For all other inquiries, please stay on the line, and a representative will be happy to assist you.”

     

    Pharmacy IVR Prompts

    Online healthcare aggregators are evolving as a one-stop destination for appointments, consultations, health records, insurance, and ordering medicines online. It is vital to provide a crisp and clear IVR prompt when it comes to healthcare.

    • “Welcome to [Company Name]
    • If you’re a new customer, press 1
    • Existing customers, press 2
    • For a new prescription, press 3
    • To speak to the operator, press 5
    • Press * to repeat the main menu choices.”

    NOTE:

    When  the customer presses 2

    • “To repeat your prescription [Name], press 1
    • For a new prescription, press 2
    • Press * to repeat the Menu choices.”

    If customer pressed 1

    • “Please hold
    • IVR reads out the old prescription details by gathering their details from the CRM
    • To confirm your order, press 1
    • For a new order, press 0”

     

    Cab Aggregators

    IVR messages come in handy for cab aggregators when the customer needs some help or wants to report an issue with their trip.

    • “Thank you for reaching out to [Company Name]. We’re here to help you.
    • For a payment issue, press 1
    • To report a lost item, press 2
    • For a driver related issue, press 3
    • For any accident related issue, press 4
    • To speak to our agent, press 9
    • Press * to repeat the main menu choices.”

     

    Dining Industry

    Food ordering is easy and convenient today. But when it comes to booking a table, the whole process can get a little time consuming. This is where an IVR script can be time-saving and provide a personalised dining experience.

    • “Hello. You’ve reached ABC[Restaurant name] where [tagline]
    • For food orders, press 1
    • For booking a table, press 2
    • For special events booking, press 3
    • For administration, press 4
    • For feedback or complaints, press 5
    • To speak to our agent, press 9
    • Press * to repeat the main menu choices.”

     

    Real Estate

    Is your company making the best first impression when property buyers and sellers call you? IVR scripts can help you in improving the customer experience by creating a unified brand image, guaranteeing each caller is attended and in boosting your customer engagement.

    • “Hello. Thank you for calling, ABC,[Company Name], where [company slogan].
    • For Residential leasing, press 1
    • For commercial leasing, press 2
    • For booking a site visit, press 3
    • To know more about our  office locations, press 4
    • Tp speak to our sales agent,  press 5
    • If this is an emergency, press 9 to speak to one of our agents
    • Press * to repeat the main menu choices.”

     

     Logistics

    Logistics is one business that runs purely on communication. Whether you are connecting third-party vendors with customers or a customer with your support agents, you need to keep all the people, facilities, and vendors involved in constant communication. This is how IVR scripts can ease out the connection.

    • “Thank you for calling ABC [company name]. You’re in good hands.
    • For your previous order details, press 1
    • For dispatch details, press 2
    • For damage claims or lost shipment, press 4
    • To speak to our customer service agent, press 9
    • For any other issue, press 0
    • Press * to repeat the main menu choices.”

     

    BFSI & Microfinance

    As a financial service provider, maintaining a clear and crisp communication with your clients is the golden rule. Leave no room for a wrong impression or mistrust when a client calls. This is how IVR scripts can help:

    • “Thank you for calling ABC [Company Name]
    • If you know your agent’s extension, please press anytime.
    • If you are a new customer, press 1
    • If you are an existing customer, press 2
    • For booking an appointment, press 3
    • For help with accounts,  or investment plans, press 4
    • For tax solutions, press 5
    • For issues that need immediate assistance, press 6
    • To register a complaint, press 8
    • To speak to an agent, press 9
    • Press * to repeat the menu”

     

    Insurance

    You cannot afford to mislead or provide half-baked information to people looking for new insurance schemes or renewal of old insurance.

    • “Thank you for calling ABC[company name]
    • For insurance renewal, press 1
    • For health insurance, press 2
    • For accident coverage, press 3
    • For new insurance schemes, press 4
    • For issues that need immediate assistance, press 6
    • To speak to our insurance expert, press 9
    • Press * to repeat the menu”

     

    Transportation

    Maintaining open communication with your customers is necessary. Regardless of delays, clients must be informed and kept up-to-date.

    Aviation

    • “Thank you for reaching ABC[company name]
    • For the company directory, press 1
    • For flight-related information, press 2
    • To check the status of your flight, press 3
    • For refund issues, press 4
    • For lost baggage issues, press 5
    • To speak to our agent, press 9
    • Press * to repeat menu”

    Bus

    • “Thank you for reaching ABC[company name]
    • For a new booking, press 1
    • To change your booking, press 2
    • For cancellations, press 3
    • To inquire about the status of your bus arrival, press 4
    • If you would like to speak to an agent, press 9
    • Press * to repeat menu”

     

    NGO

    All Non-government organisations work for a specific cause and are primarily dependant on donations which means they have scores of clients either looking to donate or looking for events that they can participate. This is where IVR prompts can help NGOs in sorting through distinct callers.

    • “Hello and welcome to [NGO name]
    • If you wish to donate for a cause, press 1
    • To inquire about our upcoming events, press 2
    • For volunteers programs, press 3
    • For our office contact details, press 4
    • For feedbacks/complaints, press 5
    • To leave a message for callback, press 9
    • Press 8 to repeat the menu choices “

     

    Consumer Durables

    This sector has been witnessing a significant growth owing to  the boost in the economy. The distribution channel has slowly moved from catering to just Tier I and II cities to towns as well. A concise IVR script helps in keeping the customer in the loop and strengthens brand loyalty.

    • “Hello and welcome to ABC [company name]
    • For installation services, press 1
    • For repair services, press 2
    • To track your technician, press 3
    • For complaints or feedback, press 4
    • For any other support services, press 5
    • To speak to our customer executive, press 9
    • Press 0 to repeat the menu”

     

    8. Use-Case Specific IVR Greetings

    As a business owner, how many times throughout the year do your clients forget their appointments? How much backlog does your delivery staff have to suffer due to cancelled or unavailable deliveries. IVR appointment/delivery reminders is the best solution that help you with no shows’ efficiently.

    Appointment Reminders

    “Welcome to[Company Name]. This is an appointment reminder call. Your appointment is scheduled for [Day] and [Time]”

    • “Press 1 to confirm the appointment
    • Press 2 to cancel the appointment
    • Press 3 to reschedule the appointment
    • Press 4 to leave a message
    • Press 5 to replay the menu”

    NOTE:

    Customer Presses 2

    • “Your appointment has been successfully cancelled.
    • To rebook your appointment on a different day, press 2
    • Press 8 to repeat the menu.”

    Customer Presses 3

    • “For the next available slot, press 1
    • To speak to our support staff, press 2
    • To leave a message, press 3
    • Press 8 to repeat the menu”

    Customer Presses 4

    • “Thank you. We have received your message. Our support executive will get back to you shortly.“

     

    Delivery Reminders

    • “Hello,this is a reminder call from [company name].  Your [order number] with [product] is scheduled for delivery by end of today.
    • Press 1, if you are available to receive it today
    • Press 2, if the delivery boy can leave the delivery at the door
    • Press 3, to reschedule the delivery
    • Press 4, to speak to our customer executive
    • Press 8 to repeat the menu”

    NOTE:

    Customer Presses 1

    • “Thank you for confirmation. You will receive your package today. Have a great day.”

    Customer Presses 2

    • “You’ve confirmed the package delivery at the door. You will receive your shipment today. Have a great day.”

    Customer Presses 3

    • “To reschedule your delivery to tomorrow, press 1
    • For next available slot, press 2
    • To speak to our support staff, press 2
    • Press 8 to repeat the menu”

    IVR is not always about the greeting or transferring to the agents. It is a powerful tool that can be used to disseminate information to a large crowd at one go. For example, when cab aggregators advertise for driver openings, they usually ask them to give a missed call on a particular number to register. The drivers are then reached via automated IVR requesting them to visit the office on a particular date and time.

    “Thank you for your interest to attach to [cab aggregator name]. Please visit our office at [branch location] on [date] at [time] with all the requisite documents including your driving license and vehicle ownership document.”

     

    9.Best Practices in IVR Scripts

    Write for the ear

    Use language that can be easily understood. Your customer does not want to waste time in listening to your voice prompts twice for the sake of clarity.

    Limited IVR script prompts

    Restrict your IVR script to 4-5 prompts. Research indicates that using more than five options leads to confusion and anxiety in your callers.

    Prioritize your IVR menus

    It is best practice to keep your most frequently selected options first on the list. Remember, the fewer options your customers must listen to, the better it is for business.

    Keep it simple

    Your menu messages should be concise, allowing the caller to navigate through the available prompts easily.  

    Avoid needless repetition

    Avoid unnecessary repetition of words like “please” or “dial”.

    Stress on the extension numbers

    Your customer should be able to grasp the prompt information without any delay. State numbers slowly and separately for easy navigation to avoid potential selection errors.

    Respect caller geography

    Include time zone in your message especially in non-operational greetings.

    A customer can call your company irrespective of time and location. A simple time zone reminder will be of benefit to the callers.

    Use one voice for all menu prompts

    Familiarity with one voice allows callers to focus on the message rather than the messenger. Also, it adds a cohesive value to your brand throughout your telephony.

    Respect Familiarity

    The whole purpose of IVR is to cut down the time taken to  provide solutions to your customers. Avoid complex or twisted messages

    Example:

     

    • “Press 0 for quick admin assistance

       ”The command does not clarify the purpose and is difficult to understand

    Inform your customer if you’re recording calls

    Your caller must be aware if his call is getting recorded. It is best to inform him right after the greeting so as to make sure that the customer has heard the message loud and clear.

    Configure Voicemails

    The customer should be assured that someone will quickly get back to them when they leave a message on the voicemail. This helps remove the clutter especially during non-operational hours and ensures brand loyalty.

    Always provide an option to repeat the menu

    Your customer needs to be well aware of the input command and where it will take him. Providing an repeat menu option ensures that your customer does not miss anything and enters right command.

    These simple and effective IVR scripts have the potential of improving your customer engagement.  Remember, IVR scripts are for the ears and not the eyes. A well-written and easily understandable voice prompt enhances the quality of all your business interactions with clients and enables your  team to meet your business standard.

     10.Find the right voice and tone for your business:

    IVR prompts give you the right voice and tone for your business.

    Choosing the right voice and the tone of the voice is imperative as it is reflective of your brand. It also depends to a great extent on the type of audience you expect to call in. Will they like an authoritative voice or a professional voice or a warm and friendly voice? You can set the tone of the call by utilising the tone of the IVR voice properly.

    When conducting business in India, playing IVR prompts in the local language can help increase trust and confidence in your brand. You can achieve this by playing an uber menu with language choices.

    If you aren’t in a mood to spend big bucks for the IVR prompts and still want to make it sound professional, you could use one of the below websites to create an IVR audio. Creating the audio would require the use of Chrome browser and using the Network Pane to download the resources that are loaded on your browser

    (DISCLAIMER: Adhere to the TOS of the respective websites and do not create a lot of audio files in a short time and increase the load on their servers)

    1) Google’s TTS to create prompts that are lesser than 100 words, like this:

     

    With Google Text-to-Speech you can add multiple male and female voices. This post explains how to use Google’s Text-to-speech.

    2) Yakitome:

 

 

Go to http://www.yakitome.com/tts/text_to_speech and enter the text for which you need to record an audio. Download it from the site using the Chrome Network Panel

3) IMTranslator:

 

Go to http://www.ispeech.org/text.to.speech and use the Chrome Network Panel method to download.

4) Record using a phone on Exotel:

Listen to yourself singing in the bathroom 😀
You can follow the steps listed in our support center for recording an IVR audio using your phone itself

5) Use Exotel’s voice over services:

 

You can request for a voice over for your IVR or greeting from inside of Exotel Dashboard itself, by following the steps to create a voiceover recording in Exotel here

Try Exotel Image CTA

Edit the audio to suit telephones:

I use and recommend Audacity. Audacity is brilliant and is available on Windows, Mac and Linux. Make sure you receive the audio in a lossless format like WAV as otherwise there will be further quality loss when you convert it on to formats like mp3.

11.Things To Learn In Audacity To Get Great IVR Audio:

1) Selection tool:

Selection tool
If you use one of the websites above, you might have to mix and match different files. So you’ll have to open all the files one by one, and then use the Selection Tool to select the parts you want and then cut/copy and paste them like you will do text in any document processor. More details here in the help document:
http://audacity.sourceforge.net/manual-1.2/tutorial_ed_beginner2.html

2) Removing Background Noise:

Noise removal option in Audacity

Where ever you find any annoying background noise in any section of the audio, select that section using the Selection Tool, select Effect -> Noise Removal. Click on Get Noise Profile and then get rid of the noise.

3) Downsample to 8kHz:

Audio on telephone networks is sampled at 8kHz because years ago, someone decided that 180 Hz to 3.2 kHz range would be sufficient for speech intelligibility while allowing them to multiplex many calls over normal telephone wires. Do listen to your recording after downsampling.

Converting audio to 8kHz mono 16 bit PCM using Audacity:

After importing a wav audio file in Audacity, use the dropdown on the file name to:
1) Set the Sample Rate to 16 bit PCM
2) Set the rate to 8000 Hz.
3) Select “Mono” in the dropdown as stereo audio isn’t supported in telephones.
4) Make sure when you export, the type of the file is “WAV (Microsoft) signed 16 bit PCM”

Converting-audio-to-8kHz-mono-16-bit-PCM-using-Audacity

Now you have a clear understanding of how to create a clear IVR prompts.

If you are interested in trying this for free, sign up for a free trial and use Exotel’s simple-to-use cloud telephony platform and create multi-level IVR prompts in 20 minutes.

Want to see this live?
Demo Image CTA

 

 

 

Read how Automated Surveys through IVR can help your business improve customer experience and fetch newer leads.

 

E-book: Guide to set up a simple cloud call center

We discuss factors like cost, business requirements and time to set up a simple call center


Ankita Barthwal

4 Comments
  • Thank you for recommending our YAKiToMe! free TTS service. Our service offers the world’s best TTS voices in both free Non-Commercial form and soon-to-be-released metered Commercial form.

    Two comments from us. First, there is no need to go to the Chrome Network Panel to download the audio produced by YAKiToMe! That can be accomplished more easily by simply pressing the download button right next to the YAKiToMe! audio player. Select the audio format you desire, such as mp3 or ogg, and the file will download to your client destination folder.

    Second, we are obligated to mention that our Terms of Service DO NOT permit editing of the audio files created with our free Non-Commercial voices. Nor may our Non-Commercial voices be used in Commercial apps or for Commercial purposes. On the other hand, our metered Commercial voices DO allow for editing and Commercial use.

    Businesses that charge money for their services should use our Commercial voices for their IVR voice prompts. Our free, Non-Commercial voices may be used for personal IVR voice prompts and for prototype and non-business-related IVR voice prompts.

    Great write up and thanks again for recommending YAKiToMe.com.

    January 2, 2014
    • If you aren’t in a mood to spend big bucks for the IVR prompts and still want to make it sound professional.

      June 13, 2017
  • Thank you for recommending our YAKiToMe! free TTS service. Our service offers the world’s best TTS voices in both free Non-Commercial form and soon-to-be-released metered Commercial form.

    Two comments from us. First, there is no need to go to the Chrome Network Panel to download the audio produced by YAKiToMe! That can be accomplished more easily by simply pressing the download button right next to the YAKiToMe! audio player. Select the audio format you desire, such as mp3 or ogg, and the file will download to your client destination folder.

    Second, we are obligated to mention that our Terms of Service DO NOT permit editing of the audio files created with our free Non-Commercial voices. Nor may our Non-Commercial voices be used in Commercial apps or for Commercial purposes. On the other hand, our metered Commercial voices DO allow for editing and Commercial use.

    Businesses that charge money for their services should use our Commercial voices for their IVR voice prompts. Our free, Non-Commercial voices may be used for personal IVR voice prompts and for prototype and non-business-related IVR voice prompts.

    Great write up and thanks again for recommending YAKiToMe.com.

    January 2, 2014
  • After exploring a number of the articles on your site, I honestly
    appreciate your way of writing a blog. I added it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon. Please visit my web site too and let me know your opinion.

    February 15, 2017

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

client-img

Blog

How Technology is Silently Enabling Aspiring Entrepreneurs

"Just call me Angel of the morning, angel." Isn't it surprising how songs just become…

Ankita Barthwal
client-img

Blog

Culture-Blog

8 Startup Challenges Every Entrepreneur Should Be Aware Of

Harbouring an idea in your head is one thing. Taking the leap of faith to…

Guest
client-img

Blog

Product-Blog

The What, Why, How of Call Alerts: Be Emergency Ready

During business emergencies, two things become important. The first is making sure that all the…

Gayatri Krishnamoorthy

Try Exotel free for 15 days

Get ₹ 1000 worth free call & SMS credits