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Linguistics and Your IVR

Over the past decade new technology has driven new international markets – and a new culture. Customer service can be challenging at the best of times, but with customers now from many different cultures and nationalities, maintaining strong customer satisfaction becomes even more problematic.

Expanding Business Abroad?

Expanding Business Abroad?

Over the past decade new technology has driven new international markets – and a new culture. Customer service can be challenging at the best of times, but with customers now from many different cultures and nationalities, maintaining strong customer satisfaction becomes even more problematic. Particularly when we’re streamlining calls into contact centres in a single country. This makes it more important than ever we build IVR systems that are efficient, effective and culturally coherent.

Approaching Internationally-Friendly IVRs

Approaching Internationally-Friendly IVRs

The most common mistake made when designing IVRs for international callers is producing a literal translation of an existing IVR in alternate languages. This is problematic for the simple reason that production, distribution and cultural differences mean that customers in different countries will be calling for different reasons. Here at Adexchange we’ve developed a process that ensures IVR performance is maximised, whatever the culture or language:

  1. Identify the key IVR objective
  2. Interpret the data
  3. Benchmark existing performance
  4. Draft the solution
  5. Measure the improvement

The 80/20 Rule

When it comes to drafting a solution, we use the 80/20 approach. This enables us to build IVRs around the top 80% of call types – we then drill down to address the long tail 20% - isolating and realising every opportunity.

Because the reasons for calling will be different across multiple territories, particularly if the business offers different products and services, international IVRs should potentially be structurally different. However, it is important to remember that the approach to designing them should be consistent.

choosing voice

Choosing A Voice

The voice of an IVR system is more significant than we often realise, for two fundamental reasons:

  1. A professional voice that broadly matches the brand will encourage more callers to press the right button and work with the system. An amateur voice that doesn’t sit well with the brand will encourage callers to ignore the instruction and press any button (in an attempt to beat the system).
  2. Most IVRs are a significant point of contact in a caller’s customer journey, and the voice will have a significant impact on the impression a customer has of your business; it contributes towards an overall brand image.

Bearing this in mind, we need to find a voice that will appeal to the customers and reflect company objectives.

Top Tips:

Here are some principles we use when helping set up overseas IVRs:

  • Keep structure simple
  • Focus on the reason for customers calling
  • Pick the right voice
  • Make sure tone of voice is consistent across territories
  • Choose a voice that is available for updates

Here at Adexchange we demonstrate even greater IVR success when we take translation one step further with our localisation projects – matching objective with culture. Drop us an email to find out more…

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About the Author
Miles Booth
Author: Miles Booth
Senior Account Manager

With a wealth of experience in account management and business development, Miles has managed a range of high-profile clients within multiple industries, including: retail, manufacturing, travel and finance.


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Adexchange Media Limited
Company number: 04344957

The Old Garage, Great Milton, Oxfordshire, OX44 7NP
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