4 Tips For Creating Great Prompts

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David Currier

In many cases, the first thing a customer hears when calling into your phone system is a recorded prompt – perhaps something like “Thank you for calling XYZ! For sales, press 1. For support, press 2.” This relatively simple prompt creates a first impression of your organization that may be difficult to change. Whether it is a greeting, menu, or compliance message, the prompts a customer hears should accurately reflect your business and give them a positive impression… even if they haven’t actually spoken to an employee.

Here are 4 tips that we’ve found will dramatically increase the quality of phone system prompts:

  1. Script each prompt word for word – Before any recording takes place, be sure you know exactly what the voice talent should say. This will dramatically reduce the time required to produce prompt recordings and make them sound much more confident and professional. It will also give your marketing team a chance to ensure consistent branding across the various media types a customer may encounter (phone, website, e-mail, etc.). Think carefully about what you want customers to hear when they call your organization. Read the scripts aloud as though you are the phone system playing the prompts to the caller. Do they make sense? Do they concisely and accurately convey the information needed by the caller?
  2. Engage professional voice talent - Working with a professional who has recorded thousands of prompts will dramatically increase the quality of the end product… and reduce the time required to produce the recordings. Nobody is perfect, but only having to record a prompt twice instead of twenty times will save you lots of time and money. Also, don’t forget to do a bit of sleuthing within your organization. You might have some hidden talent in your employees. Perhaps consider a “Voice of XYZ” competition.
  3. Use a professional recording environment - I’ve called a number of very large companies that had obviously recorded their prompts in the middle of their call center floor. Excessive background noise or poor recording equipment can result in prompts that are almost unintelligible. A very quiet room with minimal echo may be sufficient – a professional recording studio is definitely better.
  4. Ensure prompt files are in the correct format - While prompts may be recorded at CD quality or higher, be sure to convert them to the format required by your phone system. While your phone system may be able to convert them on the fly, allowing this is a very bad idea. I’ve seen phone systems brought to their knees trying to convert CD quality audio to be played to calls waiting in queue. If in doubt, the most common standard is: CCITT µ-Law 8 Bit 8 kHz Mono.

Note: Depending on the application, you may also be able to find suitable libraries of professional prompts online that can be downloaded for free or purchased.


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