I have many experiences with my clients or people whom I had interacted during their commissioning of IVR system, that they give least importance to the scripting as well as voice prompt. Most of the times, they discuss and emphasis on number of simultaneous calls, integration of the IVR with some CRM ( customer resource management) system or some other interesting IVR feature as well as its future expansion as well as maintenance. Nothing wrong for emphasizing on these aspects of IVR system, but after commissioning of the IVR, they have started changing the script as well as voice prompts many times over!
Many of clients have started out with TTS ( Text To Speech ) generated voice prompts and later ended up recording voice prompts by different artists in a studio! I have also seen some call center owner as well as some companies deploying voice recorded in office by some female staff using a PC and MIC, and putting the IVR into production. Invariably, they changed the voice prompts to studio recorded voice prompts from professional artists after one month or so!
While in some cases use of TTS ( Text To Speech) is inevitable or a must ( like retrieving dynamic data from database and playing them out), but there is no reason to use TTS or TTS generated voice prompts fixed menus, numerals as well as fixed names!
I would always advise people to use professionally recorded voice prompts in any IVR in production environment. While use of TTS generated voice prompts during testing and development phase makes sense, but in production, TTS should be avoided. Here are few reasons why one must use professionally recorded voice prompts only :-
1. Voice prompt is the only interface to the caller
In IVR system, voice prompts are the only direct interface with the telephone caller and telephone caller has no means to know about other aspects of the IVR system. A caller to an IVR system is not bothered about the technology behind the IVR system, or use of API ( Application Programming Interface) based on latest web technologies to fetch the required information for the caller at the back end. The caller is just bother about his required information and how quickly he could access it and how easily he could listen and understand without having to press any key to listen again!
2. Professional Voice Prompts gives seriousness to the IVR system
For many call center as well as customer service and support, IVR is the one which picks calls from every caller including the irate and fed-up callers! Professional, clear and pleasant voice ( I avoid using the word female) may have good effect on the caller and it may give indication to him what he may expect from the call! Unprofessional and difficult to understand voice prompts may scare away the caller or make him more non-cooperating irate customer!
3. Voice Prompts may make IVR caller experience pleasant
A clear and pleasant voice with understandable accent as well as pronunciation will surely increase user experience as well as satisfaction of the caller! A person may call to the IVR from a noisy background area and that will compound his problems in understanding IVR voice prompts or menu options if TTS generated machine prompts are used.
A professional voice prompt provider will always make the voice prompt in proper volume, speed, pitch as well as pronunciation which are a must for any production grade IVR system.
So, in order to improve usability and caller satisfaction, one should use services from a professional voice prompt provider, or at least use voice prompts recorded in studio by professional voice over artist.