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Written by Russell Winterbotham
on February 20, 2013

Whether you own the latest Apple, Samsung or other smart-phone, you'll have noticed the move towards voice-based assistance via Siri, Samsung’s S-voice system, or Google’s own Voice Actions tool. By speaking directly into your phone, you can request assistance to create, call or text a contact, conduct a quick search of the internet or set up dates or reminders. These tools are modern day advances in IVRS (Interactive Voice Response Systems) technology, systems we’ve all had the pleasure of dealing with when calling our banks, health insurance companies, or any enterprises where customer contact has been automated. As the industry progresses, more IVRS out-of-the-box solutions abound, which allows smaller to medium-sized businesses to benefit from automated customer contact solutions as well.

According to a 2012 report by Frost and Sullivan – the IVRS market is set to expand even further in 2013, with some estimates putting the industry figure at close to US$3bn. Other estimates are more conservative but the one constant is that the market is expanding.

Fundamental changes have occurred in the employment of IVRS, and continue to occur, with more and more out-bound calls or texts being placed to offer promotions, proactive and targeted customer service, reminders, notifications and value-added services. As companies realize the potential of using IVRS for marketing and administrative activities, its expansion not just in English-speaking markets, but worldwide, is set to continue.

For companies offering IVRS product implementations globally, the localization of these systems presents multiple challenges:

  • Identifying concatenation issues within the audio prompt script ahead of translation/recording: Avoid issues of sentence segments that may go together in English not joining properly due to the target language’s gender or grammatical rules.
  • Localizing audio prompts to reflect the brand image you wish to project in each market: Ensure your corporate image is handled with care and consistency across all your target markets. Is your brand being presented as dignified and traditional or exciting and new?
  • Casting, directing and recording voice talents to ensure you deliver the exact tone and image for your target culture/market/audience: Each foreign market may respond differently to a voice, depending on culture, history and social mores – casting must be conducted to determine the most appropriate talent for each language.
  • Addressing customers in their own dialect and with language and concepts they are familiar with: Project your brand the way callers expect from your company and with terminology they understand. Literal translations can often be unintelligible or result in cultural faux pas.
  • Ensuring the overall experience is as natural and as pleasurable as possible for the end-customer: Effectively localized IVR systems take the customer experience of all markets into account.

It is also important not to neglect the foreign-language contact-centre side, and ensure that the CRM and other systems staff work with are localized, fully tested and offer them the right tools to take care of their customers. This includes consistently and intelligently localized User Interface (UI) terms, help files and product updates, along with culturally-correct product training materials, such as eLearning or video.

Using a vendor with integrated services, i.e. the ability to handle not just audio recording of prompts, but also translation of scripts, the IVR user interface, training content and to perform language testing, is the first step towards timely delivery and successful product launches, with a consistent message throughout. Better still is to use a vendor which has direct IVR experience along with a long, successful project history of cloud-based software, eLearning and audio recording across the globe.

If you’d like further information on how Andovar can assist with your global IVRS projects, please contact our global team for advice.

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