National Voice Over Month

September is National VoiceOver Appreciation Month and HOLDCOM would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of our hard-working and dedicated VoiceOver Talents.  We wouldn’t be the leading audio providers if we didn’t have this talented bunch on our roster.  So thank you HOLDCOM VoiceOver Talents – you are our voice!

Stretch Back to School!

Applications are sprouting like weeds, except weeds that can help you find back to school sales at local retailers, plot them on an HD map on your cell phone, and refer you to thousands of other users who have rated each item in the store, posted pictures, and could link you to several dozens of gift card apps.

Therefore, this month’s newsletter we will feature two strikingly different, albeit useful, applications with the theme of back-to-school / post-labor day online shopping.

The first application, Snipi, is a web-browser application that allows you to drag and drop images, videos, and links from any website into a drop-down toolbar. This toolbar acts like an infinite file cabinet where you can categorize and view your files, which are all stored in your account on the host site.

The beauty of this application is its convenience: instead of searching through folders on your desktop for an image of that limited edition 1988 leopard print Holdcom digital announcer for all your Message-On-Hold Needs, you can type keywords into the toolbar and the file will appear. Not only that, you can “live stream” images and videos of your recent purchases, while keeping others private. The images also transfer wirelessly between your phone [a sister application] and your computer.

The second application, found through http://www.appscout.com/, is called Stretch Relief. When your fingers tire from typing brand names and your neck aches from craning over your Iphone, open this app – it includes “illustrated guides to simple stretching exercises you can do in your cubicle or next to your desk” so you won’t have to waste time recuperating between shopping sprees. You can customize your stretching experience by “tapping” an onscreen anatomical model of the human body.

Have an efficient, discounted, but safe, online shopping experience! Don’t forget about our online store at www.audioproductionstore.com!

IVR Voice Prompt Script Tips

pencil on white paper with eraser

No matter the size of your company, upfront greetings are essential for directing callers to the proper department or person when they first call in or after hours.

The HOLDCOM Script Department has reviewed many IVR scripts throughout the years, from succinct and direct to involved and complex. The following is one of the many helpful pointers that we’ll be sharing over the next few newsletters.

Write for the Ear:

Always remember that navigating through an IVR system is an aural experience.  So when drafting your script, be sure to write for the EAR, not for the eye. Your callers don’t have the luxury of seeing your script laid out in front of them when they’re listening to your various menu options, list of departments, employee directories, et cetera.  Use language that is easy for callers to comprehend the first time they hear it, without the need to have it repeated.

The best way to check this – read your script out loud. If a phrase is awkward or unclear, revise.

But you aren’t done yet!

Once you are done making those initial changes, read your script out loud a second time – to one or two members of your team. What may sound clear to your ear may not work for others.

Congratulations

We would like to acknowledge the outstanding achievement of our partner Oddcast for having “One of the Best-Ever Social Media Campaigns,” as ranked by Forbes.com, for their “Monk-E-Mail” Campaign. Holdcom worked with Oddcast to provide many of the voices for the now web-famous monkeys.

Andy (headshot)

Splish Splash

Bubblyv 1.5Have you heard of Bubbly? Not the cute petname for champagne, but the fast-growing technology craze that is sweeping India. Created as a subset of Bubble Motion, a “global provider of mobile messaging and social media applications,” Bubbly, also knows as Bubbletalk, is, according to their website, a “click, talk, and send voice messaging service that is a fun and exciting alternative to SMS.”

Voice recognition and voice-to-text technology has existed for several years, but this social appropriation of usually just-for-emergencies messaging is on the cutting edge of how businesses and social networks communicate. Christopher Holloman, chairman of First Tuesday UK and entrepreneur wrote in his technology blog, SkyNewsHD, that Bubbly is like “twitter meets Dictaphone.” It has reached such success in India because “mobile phone usage exceeds internet usage in India” and that “it was adopted quickly by the stars of Bollywood ad well as politicians and big brands.” Bubbly currently has “over 2 million users” with “100,000 new users each month.”

How does it work? In order to “voice-blog, you enter a short code into your phone and start recording your messages.” Just like Twitter, you can “follow” other users, where notifications on your phone will update you when a new audio-message has arrived.

So what is the future of Bubbly? On the plus side, voice-blogging is easy to use, dynamic, and more direct than texting. On the down side, listening to recorded messages, where each user has their own pace, accent, and inflection, can be a weary process.

Overall, this technology brings power back to the human voice and opens work opportunities for professional voice talent, audio production, and a new need for overhead music – perhaps a little Jazz behind your next voice-blog?

Do you think this trend will sweep America?

Message On Hold Imperative

As you may or may not know, antiquated cassette load technology for your Message On Hold communication will soon cease to be supported. Even Currys (the equivalent of Best Buy in England) will no longer sell cassette tapes, a sign of the rapidly fading technology.  If you are currently using a cassette load digital announcer for your On Hold Communication, HOLDCOM can assist you with upgrading to new MP3 & CD technology for a special price.  If you’re not sure what equipment you are currently using, we encourage you to contact cr@holdcom.com for an equipment consultation.  Or call them at 800.666.6465.  They’ll be able to verify if your equipment is compatible for the future.

Remember, having the most up-to-date technology will not only insure consistent and reliable on hold messaging, but will provide you with a more convenient means to implement your update programs.  And keeping your content up to date will make for more effective on hold communication in your marketing and customer service efforts.

Click here to save $100 on your upgrade

Water, Water… Not Quite Everywhere

rain barrel (2)

The town I live in enforced an “Odd-Even” watering day policy, so since our house is an even number we could only water our lawn and plants on even numbered calendar days.

My husband and I are by no means gardeners but there are some plants, vegetables and herbs that we’d like to water daily, so we purchased a 48-gallon rain barrel.  The plastic unit, which isn’t an eyesore, was fairly easy to install.  A line is connected to our downspout and after one average rainfall we opened up the barrel and were pleasantly surprised to see that the entire barrel was full!

There’s a handy spout on the bottom that we use to fill watering cans.  And the water comes out at a nice pressure – it doesn’t drip out.  Or you can attach your hose there as well.  Even when there isn’t a water restriction this is a great way to save money on your water bill.

We picked up our rain barrel at an end of the season sale at Home Depot and below are a few links as to where else you could purchase one or even put one together on your own.

rain barrel (2)

For more information, check out: http://www.simplyrainbarrels.com/

For price information, go to: http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=698954011

For video, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGFDlkJOdaM

In Memoriam

American Flag

September 11th marks the ninth anniversary of the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center towers, The Pentagon, and the heroic struggle of flight 93. Americans all over the country are encouraged to fly a flag in remembrance of the innocent civilians and courageous servicemen who lost their lives.

Multilingual Communication – technology/feature

The hyper-paced global market has become so accessible to companies of all sizes that many of these organizations have overlooked the domestic global market: that is, providing a product tailored towards the immigrant and multilingual communities. Nearly one in five Americans speaks a foreign language at home and almost every major business center in the country has a Chinese, Japanese, or Italian district where English is a second language. The key to reaching these communities is speaking their language- customizing the product to fit the target community’s needs and conveying a marketing message that not only sells a product, but demonstrates the company’s respect for the targeted community’s culture.

Everyone has heard translation horror stories – poorly Chinese-translated English movie titles or t-shirts, or mistranslations that turn compliments into scathing insults. The way to secure authentic translations is to go straight to the source. By using remote recording technology, Holdcom has an unlimited resource of global voice talent. This technology also enables voice talents to connect with each other, ameliorating cross-cultural business communication.

How can a company broadcast emergency messages quickly and efficiently to a multilingual community? Ivr announcements [interactive voice response] are a tried and true method used by banks and hospitals that let the customer select their desired language, if a recording in that language is available. Verizon Wireless has bilingual Message-On-Hold programs in their West Retail locations and devotes equal attention to Spanish as well as English.

Don’t forget that there are many foreign businesses that target American markets. The Israeli company Telejingle uses Holdcom to provide genuine American voice talent, accents ranging from the west coast to southern to Bostonian. Voice production is a product unto itself– expertise in one’s own language, as well as knowledge of how the community converses, is crucial.