Wordplay is No Game in IVR Scripting.

When building an IVR Script, you must consider carefully the precise words to be used at each step, while also considering the customer experience throughout the call. More importantly, dialogues should be designed to be spoken to the caller in phrases, rather than pieced together from individual words.  Otherwise, single word dialogues will sound mechanical and robotic.  And, when selecting an IVR system, it’s important to select one that makes phrase-oriented design easy.  There needs to be a balance between getting to the point with short simple prompts, and a script that is instructional using natural language.  Here are 4 very important factors to keep in mind as you build an IVR script.

1. Be Brief: More is not necessarily better when recording speech.
The prompt “enter ID” may be too brief for inexperienced callers.  But, “Please enter your nine-digit ID number so we can retrieve your information” is far too wordy. “Enter your nine-digit ID number” is a good compromise. Similarly, messages should not give excessive information. A “system down” message, for example, might say: “We’re sorry, the system is unavailable. Please call back later.”

2. Do’s and Don’ts – Sequencing words and phrases: The sequence of words spoken is important.

Do use phrasing such as: “For savings account balances, Press one” (result of selection –> action/option). The caller hears the result of the action/option if selected.  This gives the caller a more efficient interface and helps reduce errors.  This also trains the caller in getting accustomed to using the automated system.

Don’t build a script that says: “Press one for savings account balances” (action/option –> result of selection).  The caller is more likely to forget the action, which key to press, by the time s/he listens to the result.

3. Use Good Format:  The dialog is so important for verbalizing responses derived from data stored on the host. Here is a good example of formatting data into a script: If your IVR script offers stock quotes, the script development team needs to choose between a response format that might be “thirty dollars and twenty-five cents,” “thirty point twenty-five,” or “thirty and one-quarter.” In speaking dates, some choices may be: “December twenty-five, two-thousand fifteen,” “December twenty-fifth, two-thousand fifteen” or “twelve twenty-five fifteen.”  See the “Script Table” below for words and phrases to be used in a dialogues as examples.  You need to think about how customers are accustomed to hearing their information spoken by your company’s representatives when they call to ask for this information.  If the script doesn’t respond in a way that callers are familiar with, they will not accept the automated system.

4. Sentence Structure/Phrasing: When designing the application script, the individual vocabulary elements that make up the script are often more complex than the continuous message segment heard by the caller. In some cases, a message may be recorded as one complete vocabulary item.  For example, “Thank you for calling ABC Company” may be recorded as a whole.  However, in cases where data is being retrieved from the host computer, the entire message is formed from a group of smaller constant and variable words and phrases/data to form dynamic messages.  As an example: “Your current balance is forty-five dollars and thirty cents, due on December 15th” would be concatenated at run-time from the following phrases:


The success of your IVR system and applications running on it, will be determined by the script you design, keeping it sounding natural to the caller to create the most pleasing customer experience, and the and quality of the vocabulary recorded.  When you consider greeting the caller in a friendly manner, and keeping the dialogue efficient, informational, and easy to access, you will create a script that callers will embrace, and over time the callers will feel confident about using the automated system, become loyal users, and impact customer satisfaction that will affect the bottom line of your organization.

Remember this, a good script = customer acceptance!

Hungry for more? This is part of our IVR Scripting Series – Click for more!

“Script Table” for the words and phrases to be used in a dialogue.

Contact Us with any questions or inquiries.


2 thoughts on “Wordplay is No Game in IVR Scripting.

  1. When developing an IVR script with the caller considered at every step, the end result will be satisfied callers from their initial service experience… easy to apply and even remembered for its ease of use!


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