voice talent

Choosing the Right Voice for Your Brand

We’re told from a young age that “first impressions are everything”; they’re the ever-lasting picture a new person paints of you from the moment you meet. While we tend to take this with a pinch of salt when socialising with others, the idiom rings all the more true when there are physical barriers in place, such as communicating over the phone.

When it comes to the first impression of your business, the stakes are much higher, as this often determines whether or not a new customer will jump on board with you and what you have to offer. While meeting customers in real life gives you ample opportunity to charm with your smile and warm personality, interacting over the phone is an entirely different story, and it’s the initial aural handshake that truly counts.

This is why choosing the right voice talent for your audio production is so important to your branding and customer reach. If a new customer is calling your company for the first time, it’s imperative they’re greeted with a warm and welcoming audio greeting that perfectly reflects your brand.

If your business is in a delicate industry, such as respite care or a funeral home, your voice talent ought to be soothing, comforting, and informative, rather than energetic and bubbly. On the other side of the coin, a younger voice with bright tones and a vivacious energy will be better suited to a childcare centre or café.

Each of our voice talents offers varying degrees of tone, warmth and personality types, to mirror your company’s image. There’s Candice, whose glowing, cheerful smile can actually be heard down the phone line; Magnus offers a host of character voices; Grayton has an authoritative, deep tone that commands attention; and Annie’s mature voice connects with callers while being helpful and comforting.

The right voice talent for your audio production shouldn’t be so out of line with your brand that it distracts the callers: what your callers should be focusing on is the content of the messages, rather than the voice. If you currently have a welcome message recorded in-house by your nervous receptionist or ambivalent IT guy, then the impression you’re offering isn’t all that strong or professional.

Take a listen below and see what you think. Here’s an average run of the mill in-house welcome example:

 

And here’s something we rustled up with one of our professional voice artists, Adrian:

 

So what do you think? How are you greeting each and every customer and prospect over the phone?

The right voice talent for your brand will not only receive every customer with professionalism, they’ll also get your customers excited about your promotions, keep them informed with vital information, or even calm them down if they’re stressed out.

Think about your company and brand as a person. What are their values? What do they talk about? What do they sound like? Now head over to our massive voice talent library and find the right voice to bring your messages and business to life!

– Cassie

Phone Phoneys

I recently made one of the biggest investments of my life: a high-end laptop worth over $2000. It took a significant bite out of my savings, but to this day, I don’t regret the decision one bit. It boots up in seconds, runs the latest software, has a stunning display, showcases beautiful design and is solidly built. It packs a premium price tag, but that’s okay, because it’s a premium product.

The company behind this piece of kit is famous for displaying this trend across their entire product line – leading-edge quality and stunning design. But I’m still a bit disappointed in them. Why? Because of their on hold production.

This company’s products are extremely popular, so there’s normally a build-up of callers on their phone lines, leading to pretty hefty wait times on hold. When I called their store in Perth, Western Australia, I was immediately greeted by a fuzzy, robotic voice with an American accent. “That’s okay,” I thought, as some generic, tinny music began to play. “I’ll get to the high-quality voice production promoting their innovative products next”.

Does your brand sound robotic on the phone?

Does your brand sound robotic on the phone?

The same voice killed my hope: “You are… ninth… in the queue”. It was a really unpleasant surprise that breaks the consistent branding that makes them unmistakeably who they are. Sure, outside of their on hold, they’re industry leaders and pioneers, but in terms of phone service, they’re stuck in the Dark Age. And that’s bad customer service.

It’s very disappointing when a company of this size, innovators that take pride being in pole position in the field of consumer electronics, neglect the quality of their phone service so dramatically. It’s even more shocking since there’s so much they could be promoting. Their latest phones and tablets, a groundbreaking new wireless storage device, or even the world’s thinnest desktop computer. Apparently, instead of generating more enquiries, reinforcing branding and cultivating potential add-on sales, this organisation wants a robot to point out to callers how much longer they’ll have to wait.

In other words, by taking the cheap option on hold, the company is missing out on opportunities every time someone is placed in the queue.

– Magnus

Choosing The Right Voice Talent

I’m a news radio geek. I listen to one particular news radio station religiously. Every morning I listen to the 7.45am bulletin. I’m irritated if I miss the 5pm bulletin. It’s my thing. It was drilled into me at uni and now I can’t un-drill it. On the bright side, if I’m going to be addicted to anything, I’m glad it’s something as intellectually stimulating and painless as news radio, but I digress.

Over the years, I’ve come to enjoy a particular affection for different news readers. I enjoy the dulcet tones of some of the male readers and the intellectual and pleasant reads of the females. On the whole, I tend to either like the sound of the readers’ voices or they’re so non-offensive that I barely even notice them. A voice on radio should never be the focus – the focus should be on what that voice is saying.

We could listen to this guy for hours.

We could listen to this guy for hours.

An irritating voice is an infuriating distraction. I don’t want to have to try and ignore how much I hate the way someone is reading something, I want to listen to what they’re saying!

It’s the same with your Messages On Hold production. Our diverse pool of voice over artists has been selected to offer you voices that are going to suit specific productions. We want callers to be able to listen to our productions and really hear what’s being said, rather than be distracted by the way our voice talent sounds or the way he or she says specific words.

Our studio team members are well-trained in picking which voice talent should read for a given client. For example, our voice over artist Grayton is the ideal choice for commanding and dramatic reads, whereas Fiona would be more suited to a young, happy-go-lucky type production.

In the copywriting department, we take the time to work out how tricky words like brands, surnames or places are meant to be said so they sound the way they should On Hold. We may not know how Bobinawarrah or Eromanga are pronounced, but we have clients in those areas.  You can bet their callers would be distracted if they heard their town or suburb name read incorrectly.

Whether you’re thinking about becoming a Messages On Hold customer, or you’re already one, it’s always a good idea to head over to our gallery of voices. Have a listen to the voices available to find who would best suit your production.  And when you’re working with us in scripting, let us know how you’d like specific words pronounced. Don’t distract callers from your production’s content – enhance it by selecting the right voice talent!

– Sophie

Choose Your Own Adventure

When I was a kid, I read RL Stine’s Give Yourself Goosebumps books. Anyone who was born in the mid 80’s will know what I’m talking about. If you weren’t, these books fell into the ‘choose your own adventure’ category. Fast forward to present day and I’m reminded of these books every time I call my bank – I choose my own adventure and it often turns into a nightmare!

Don't let your IVR become a nightmare for callers.

Don’t let your IVR become a nightmare for callers.

So how do you ensure your phone system’s menu (or Interactive Voice Recording) doesn’t become a nightmare for unsuspecting callers? Keep reading to find out.

Problem #1

The biggest mistake companies make when recording their menu prompts is choosing a staff member to record them. Sure, this is quick and easy – but often times that’s how the recordings sound to incoming callers. What’s more, over time these get rerecorded by other team members and end up a mix-match of varying voices and quality.

Solution?

Have a professional Voice Artist recording your messages. This will ensure you have a consistent sound across all levels of your phone system. A professional Voice Artist will also deliver a pitch perfect, measured read which provides your callers with a clear easy-to-follow menu system.

Problem #2

When a client or potential lead enters your menu system, they’re most likely thinking about several things at once. “What’s for lunch?” “What I’m going to do when I get off the phone” “What time is that meeting?” So when you throw 5 to 7 menu options at them, they get flustered and forget what their options were in the first place! The result? They hang up. *click*

Solution?

Try keeping your menu levels to a maximum of 3 or 4. We also recommend placing the command (Press 4) at the end of the subject (For account payable…) as this helps the caller navigate your menu and reduces caller drop outs. Our copywriters are experts in this field.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg! If you’d like to discover more helpful hints on improving your IVR menus and avoiding IVR nightmares, check out our Call Flow Tips Infographic here.

– Lachy

Writing for the Voice

Posted By Copywriting Dept on 03-Feb-12 09:39

It’s not something I would usually admit to, but when you walk into our copywriting department on a regular afternoon, you’ll often find us talking to ourselves. Yes, you read that correctly, not talking to each other, but talking to ourselves. It’s not that we’re all maladjusted, or that we prefer our own company to that of our fellow copywriters, it’s simply this: when writing for the voice, the best way to read it, is out loud. In fact there a few ways that writing for the voice is different to writing for the page – as I’m sure any playwright, speech writer or script writer will tell you, and that’s what I thought I’d talk about today.

In a drama class I took at University our tutor gave us some interesting advice on how to write dialogue. He actually told us to carry around a voice recorder and record all our friends’ conversations. It was meant to show us how real conversation works so we could apply it to script writing. I decided not to record all my conversations in a bid to not weird out my friends too much, which seemed to be for the best, because since then I’ve learn some much simpler and less intrusive ways to tweak your words for the tongue.

The main thing is the tone. A more casual tone will make your messages sound conversational – so callers feel like they’re listening to a person they can engage with, not just a recorded robot. Now how do you achieve that tone? Obviously some of it comes down to the Voice Talent and how they read it out, but we’re talking about the words, so here are some things we do when writing scripts to make it sound more conversational before the Voice Talent even sees it.

Choice of Words: Choose words that are more casual, avoid industry jargon (unless you would actually use it in a conversation with your customers), and by all means, use colloquial language – the kind of words and phrases you’d never be allowed to put in an essay or research paper but would always use in everyday life.

Ask Questions: We use actual and rhetorical questions all the time in conversations, and it helps the other person feel engaged, why not use it?

Use the First Person: Referring to your company as a thing that the message is talking about puts distance between you and the caller. But if you use ‘we’ and ‘our’ and ‘you’ the caller feels like they are being engaged in conversation with a person, not just listening to someone talking about the company.

Use Contractions: We ‘don’t’ usually say ‘do not’ unless we’re really emphasising a point, also ‘you’ll’ probably notice you say ‘we’re’ rather than ‘we are’ when you’re (you are) speaking to someone.

Most of us are trained to avoid all these things when writing for the page (in essays, reports, newsletters, etc), however when writing for the voice we embrace them, and so should you!

– Rachel Inglis

A Sound Idea

Think about the last time you were blown away by an amazing singer, actor or comedian. What was it about their performance that sucked you in? The script? The lyrics? More often than not it comes down to the delivery. Both a good actor and a bad actor work with the same script – it’s their delivery that makes the difference between a knockout performance and a sub-par one. Naturally, it’s important to consider this for your On Hold audio productions as well.

When thinking about how you want to come across to waiting callers, we consider your callers first. For example, we might recommend to a law firm two 35-50 year old voice over actors as opposed to younger, female voices and a more laid-back read for a women’s hairdresser. It’s easy to overlook the importance of matching your tone to suit prospects, but rest assured the difference made is significant.

Another factor to consider is how competitive your industry is. If you have competitors over the road, around the corner or in the same building, you probably feel the need to differentiate yourself more than most. Why not make your On Hold that little bit more special! Have one of our voice actors portray a character to give your messages more personality, or specify a read that suits your brand.

So next time you’re thinking about updating your On Hold production, consider how you want to come across tone-wise. Specifying a suitable read to us can give callers that little bit of extra incentive to stay on the line. Yes it’s important that callers are interested by what you have to say, but in the end, it’s how you say it that matters most.

– Magnus Newman