Five steps for fine-tuning the brand's voice
Every brand has an image, and many have an actual human voice when it comes to advertising, information hotlines, and call centres. But the type of voice does not always resonate with the brand's target audience, according to UK-based speech recognition firm VoxGen, which offers a five stage plan for matching brands and voices.
According to VoxGen, many companies continue to ignore (or simply not consider) the impact that voice calls can have on their brands, instead concentrating all their branding efforts on other media such as web sites, print advertising, store design, and even corporate office design.
To help address this issue, the company has compiled its top five list of tips for businesses that want to match the right kind of voice to their brand marketing efforts:
- User experience In the call centre or help-line environment, think about the needs of the customer, and provide the right kind of options and assistance, making sure that the instructions given by automated voice services are clear and concise.
- Accent Think about the accent or dialect used by recorded voices. If the business is focused primarily in a certain location it may be best to use local accents to help users understand and relate to the telephone service more easily.
- Vocabulary Also think about the type of vocabulary typically used by the target audience. Without "dumbing down" the language excessively or removing all traces of emotion, work out what kind of words and phrases will be most easily understood (a little live customer research, recording the conversations if necessary, will help). Don't use jargon or uncommon phrases where there's a more direct alternative.
- Concise questions If you ask questions and want to get precise information back from the user quickly, keep the questions short and concise, and try to work out if there's any possibility of any question being misunderstood or misinterpreted. Again, clarity is the key: explain what you need to know and where they can find the answer, in as few words as possible.
- Speed of speech Finally, keep in mind the speed of the speech uttered, and the speed with which the user might respond, in order to reflect the values and culture of the business. Don't allow a recorded voice speak too quickly, and bear in mind that users may be combing the fine print on their statement to find the answer, so allow a suitable length of time before assuming they're not going to respond.
Subtleties count Even on a subconscious level, callers respond to subtle details in the way a human operator or speech application talks to them. Every phrase that a speech application or call handler utters can carry a hidden message about the brand or the company. One of the big problems facing consumers and brands today, according to VoxGen, is that the hidden message is often one of indifference.
"The impression we get from someone's appearance and tone of voice is incredibly powerful. When we interact with computers, as with real people, we draw inferences from information received by all of our senses," said Simon Loopuit, CEO for VoxGen. "The personality of the voice, in terms of sound and vocabulary, should differ between companies, and can even be made to differ between customers."
Examples Examples of how different personas can be used for different situations can be heard in online demonstrations on VoxGen's web site - click here.