As a voice artist, I’m often asked to record telephone greetings for IVR services (that stands for Interactive Voice Response) – you know, the whole “Press 1 if you sales, 2 for accounts or…oh why am I even bothering you’ve already pressed 1 in the hopes of bypassing me haven’t you?”
When recorded by a professional, these systems are great, but what’s incredible to me is how many companies choose to use a member of their own team to record the greetings for their company. Nothing wrong with that – in principal – but then every so often you’re greeted by a voice that can only be bring about one reaction, “What on earth has happened to my language?”
Now I have a series of gripes in this particular arena, but as I prefer to keep these posts just long enough for the attention span of the average surfer (it’s about how long it takes to finish a bag of crisps), I’ll keep it to just one or two.
In no particular order, let me first point out that the G in words that end in ‘ing’ is NOT, nor has it ever been, silent. For some reason however, there seems to be an entire generation of people who think that it is. You know who I’m talking about. You call up a company with a solid reputation and some hooped earring Chavette who is more interested in the X Factor than her job shrieks down the phone at you with a voice so shrill that all the dogs in the neighbourhood start howling.
“Good mornin'” they cry. You respond in a professional tone “Good morninG, may I please speak with so and so? “E’s in a meetin’ right now, who’s callin'”
AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!! You horrible little person! You’re killing the English language. You’re the icon of everything I hate about the world.
OK Paul, breathe, remember your exercises. You see I don’t mind so much when I’m phoning to order a pizza from but these are people answering the phones in City firms – the sorts of places where a certain standard is expected and yet is clearly being overlooked.
The voice on the phone may very well be the first image of the company that your new potential client faces. Ask yourself, is it professional and enticing, or does it leave them wondering if they should click on the next name that came up on Google? If someone in the office can make your telephone greeting sound good, then consider yourselves lucky and use them. It doesn’t matter what department they work in – a good voice over is hard to find, so utilise them.
However, if, like most companies, you’re not fortunate enough to have a trained voice over in your office, perhaps you should consider drafting in the services of a professional.
Join me next time when I’ll take another look at how else our language is being destroyed – it’s gonna be sick – which I am told is now a good thing.