Don’t Tick Off Your Global Colleagues With Bad Voice Recordings

Deploying an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or auto attendant system globally supported by professionally recorded voice prompts in multiple languages can be a cultural nightmare. As project manager, there are multiple opportunities to look like an idiot. To make sure you don’t tick off your global marketing colleagues, solicit the focused involvement of key stakeholders that represent each customer segment or geography. This will maximize buy in, and minimize the chance you’ll have to scramble for an international dictionary to translate the swear words that may be hurled at you by your global counterparts. Here’s some tips:

Let colleagues evaluate voice samples and choose the voice over talent.

Face it… I’m betting there’s a 99% chance that you don’t speak more than two languages (if you’re like me, you struggle with one). Let native-speakers for the given language choose the voice talent. Get them involved early in the process before you’re tempted to go with the easiest choice. Virtually all voice talents and voice over firms have voice samples available that are either e-mail-able or play on their websites for this purpose.

When presenting choices for auto attendant or IVR voices, make sure the voice talents are native speakers of the language, and better yet, live in the country in which the prompts will be heard. Native speakers are more aware of cultural sensitivities, which can help your company prevent an embarrassing mistake from occurring that could damage your organization’s reputation.

Use the voice script to build trust with your stakeholders

Getting these folks involved with an early review can head off some pretty embarrassing moments down the road. First off, if you’re recording phone greetings or IVR voice prompts in 3 languages or more, get the base English set nailed first – including management review. There’s nothing worse than sending out a script to 10 country representatives, only to have the one and only country manager who is smarter/harder working/more alert than you find the single mistake that will force you go back to the other 9 with the dreaded second request.

To make things easier, it’s important to use a standard electronic format when creating scripts for each language. Divide the document into sections based on the languages needed. That way the script can be more easily distributed by the appropriate IVR voices and aggregated upon completion. A spreadsheet works best for this, with individual tabs for each language.

There should be a script reviewer for each language in which your record. To flag errors and save money on re-records:

  • Be very specific with written instructions describing exactly what you’re looking for them to do.
  • Ask them to read the script out loud; they’ll be more likely to identify issues.
  • Request that the reviewer identify other colleagues to validate hard to pronounce words that s/he doesn’t understand or is unsure of. Better safe than sorry.

Use professional voice over talents and certified translators for voice prompts

 Stakeholder buy-in requires credibility. Two sure fire ways to squander that:

  • Ask co-workers John, Juan, or Jean to record your voice prompts.
  • Use an automated web page to translate your voice prompts.

Using internal resources for voice recordings results in an inconsistent and less-than-polished voice user interface and a missed opportunity to build the organizations’ brand. Employing professional voice services results in a more consistent, engaging caller experience. A trained voice talent sounds more professional and is adept at maintaining a consistent style, tone, and volume when phone greetings or IVR prompts are updated.

The best way to ensure your translations are accurate is to use a professional translation service. If you can, opt for one that offers translation and recording services, since this make the process simpler and can reduce the amount of errors that might occur. Under no circumstances should you use a computer translator, as they have a tendency to produce inaccurate translations and don’t pick up on local vernacular.

One last tip: When the recordings are completed, it’s a smart thing to have the reviewer listen to the recordings before deployment. Encourage the reviewer to be in a quiet environment when doing do, preferably with headphones. We have found that doing so greatly increases the change of stakeholder sign off.

Early and continuous engagement is key.

Engagement with the key stakeholder for each language, from the start and throughout the entire process, will ensure customer satisfaction and eliminate the need for re-recording. The extra effort here will pay off in terms of sustained enthusiasm for ongoing work, and hopefully you’ll have made some global friends along the way.