IVRs for Your Business: An Interview with Allison Smith, The Voice of Asterisk [Video]

By Brian Ferguson


allison-asterisk-filmstrip-header-3Every time a customer calls your business, they encounter your phone system’s interactive voice response (IVR). Telephone prompts that are inviting and creative can increase business and reinforce your company’s identity. Prompts that are lackluster and contain too many subcategories can frustrate callers and turn business away. Who better to provide us with some insider tips on the right way to use IVRs than Allison Smith, aka the Voice of Asterisk?

Allison happens to be one of the most prevalent telephone voices in the world, today – and I got the chance to talk with her as my guest on this week’s episode of Digium Live. In addition to being the voice of the Asterisk Open Source PBX, Allison’s clients include Marriott Hotels, 3M, Pfizer, Toyota, Victoria’s Secret, Bank of America and EBay, among many others.

During her appearance on Digium Live, Allison expands on her presentation “The Next Level of IVR,” which was presented at ITEXPO 2015 in Miami, FL. She explains how your IVR is “the virtual lobby of your company,” and matters just as much to your business identity as your website and business card.

When I sat down with Allison to discuss her thoughts on how a company can enhance its IVRs, she offered some straight-forward advice:

Keep it Simple

Narrow down the amount of choices you provide callers to 4 or 5 maximum selections. Don’t have more than 10 options because people won’t remember them. It is too time consuming for people to maneuver through a menu that is too long.

Mix up Prompts

If you always start your prompt with the same instruction, it becomes monotonous for the caller. Altering the order of the prompts will help the caller remember them better.


Original: “Press one for accounting. Press two for technical support. Press three for sales.”

Modified: “Press one for technical support. For accounting, press two. If you’d like to speak with a sales representative, please press three.”

Create a Tailored Greeting

Personalize your introductory greeting to match the culture of your company. If you are a spa, for example, consider welcoming callers with soothing music and a calming IVR voice. On the other hand, if you are a cable TV provider, create a greeting that is brief and reassuring in that you will get them to the correct person as quickly as possible. Your introductory greeting is a strong branding element for your company’s culture, so get creative with it.


Need IVR talent for your business?

Check out Allison’s website www.theivrvoice.com and www.theasteriskvoice.com


Watch this week’s episode of Digium Live with Allison Smith as she shares more tips on enhancing your company’s IVR, discusses things to avoid when creating prompts, and discloses some creative business use cases.

  View the Digium Live! web series
Visit Digium’s YouTube Channel


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