Best Practices: Voice Applications

Best Practice


Limit the number of options to four or five per branch.

It is acceptable to list four or five options that are available for selection by customers. If the list goes beyond five items, customers lose patience and interest.

Minimize demands on the caller's memory.

First say the option, then specify the option key. For example, For Customer Care, press 1.

Organize menu choices in a way that saves time for the caller.

Present the most likely menu choice first, the second most likely next, etc.

Keep menu descriptions brief and to the point.

Instead of: If you wish to speak with a representative concerning your recent bill, press 4, use: For billing inquiries, press 4.

Keep customer touch-tone input to a minimum.

It is acceptable to ask customers to enter in a zip code or account number (even 16 to 20 characters long). It is inadvisable to ask customers to enter their complete address.

Keep menu options consistent throughout a script and a company (common navigation techniques).

If the star (asterisk) key is used in one part of the application to reach an agent, use this consistently throughout the application.

Use words, terms, and expressions that are commonly understood by the public.

Avoid using company or even industry-specific jargon (unless you are sure the customer is familiar with it): for example, use account number for the caller’s account rather than your company’s terminology for the account.

Make it easy for customers to transfer from the voice application to an agent.

Tell callers throughout the script which key to press to transfer from the application to an agent.

Select a voice with an accent that is acceptable to the customer base.

Avoid accents that may be difficult to understand outside the region.

Set customer expectations for all fulfillment and actions requested in the voice application.

If it will take 10 business days for a copy of a requested document to reach a caller, provide that time frame.

Do not use humor in voice applications.

Humor is personal (and culture-specific) - what is funny to one person may not be funny to someone else.

Provide confirmation and feedback announcements.

If confirmation is needed, read back a caller’s entry to allow the caller to confirm it.

Provide a feedback announcement such as Please wait while your information is located when necessary to apprise the caller that the information entered is being processed.