It’s kind of a no-brainer that certain voices are more palatable to the human ear than others, including voices used in interactive voice response, or IVR, systems. It’s also a no-brainer that the type of voice on the other end of the line may determine how pleasant an IVR experience can be.
No matter what, the customer calling their credit card or bank’s IVR system is there for one reason only: to get information. They’re not there to chit-chat or answer surveys or listen to sales pitches (something that seems to be ever more popular these days).
In other words, customers want what they want and they don’t want anything else, and if you start throwing ‘anything else’ at them, they’re likely to get impatient. So, from the IVR’s perspective, the system is already starting off on shaky ground.
Which is why many IVR voices are of the calming variety as opposed to excitable or bubbly. If a customer is already anxious about something (money can get anyone anxious), the last thing they want to hear is some perky, over-the-top annoying voice.
I liken it to when you’re a kid and you hurt yourself. The last thing any kid who’s just hurt himself or herself wants is an excited, panicky parent freaking out, asking them if they’re “all right?!”
It’s pretty simple, really. If you’re agitated or have the potential to become agitated, you want to hear a soothing, calm voice. A deep male voice is nice, but so is a soft female voice.
Part of it comes down to personal preference regarding gender and pitch, but I think we can all agree we want calm and pleasurable. Although we don’t want too calm—especially if we’re already worked up about a mystery charge on our credit card or something. Just calm. Not placating.