Allison Smith

Traits of My Favorite Telco Clients — Part 2

In my most recent blog post, I discussed tangible measures that IVR writers can do with their scripts to greatly facilitate the recording of their prompts. It can be as simple as the program and format you use.

In this post, I’ll delve into other ways that can forge a strong and easy relationship with your voice talent  and ensure that you get the prompts you need, delivered in the format your system requires.

1. You allow enough time

I’m known for very fast turnaround, even as busy as I am (and it continues to grow). I can still almost always return prompts back to a client the same day if I get the order by noon. Pretty darn great, yes?

But some people seem to think that even that is an intolerable lag time. My favorite clients email even a few days ahead of their deadline to enquire about my availability instead of presuming that I’ll be around to record at the 11th hour just before they want to go live with their IVR.  It’s a good idea to allow not only enough time for the talent to deliver the files, but also that they’ll be around for those inevitable redo’s or re-writes.

2. You Write Your Own Script

Lots of people presume that I will write their script for them. I am so focused on (and my time is so completely consumed by) standing in front of the mic that I can’t get sidelined into writing. Also, I always maintain that clients know their own company the best; they have more knowledge about their businesses, and they are the best qualified to write about it. I’m more than happy to offer suggestions (if solicited) if something isn’t reading naturally or something is worded in a confusing way. Apart from that, sending me a finalized script is necessary for me to do my job.

3. You Have Researched the Rates at Which Voice Talent Work

Some clients who are new to hiring voice talent have a little bit of sticker shock when I quote the rates to voice their projects. I had someone exclaim recently: “You make as much as a lawyer!” Be that as it may, a quick search of other voice talent’s rates will likely convince you that I’m actually a bargain. I have endeavored to keep my rates as competitive as possible; I offer a half-hour prorate (and even a per-prompt rate), which many voice talents do not do, and my rate increases are infrequent.

With my turnaround being so rapid and a quality product being delivered, good, regular clients acknowledge that mine is a reasonable rate; they pre-pay me without balking, or submit payment after the fact in a timely manner.

4. You Let Me “Do My Thing”

I used to be on the roster of a now-defunct voice talent agency, and I loved how the only direction they frequently put on their spec sheet was the simple phrase: “Do Your Thing.” What greater compliment can you give to an artistic professional, but “Do That Intangible Thing You Do?”

This would apply to any creative professional you hire, be it the Web designer who builds your Web site, the graphic designer who comes up with your logo, or even the interior designer who whips up the design scheme for your office. Give us a clear idea of the message you wish to convey; tell us examples of what you like; even tell us what you don’t want, then step back and let us do our thing.

Presumably, when someone finds my Web site or is referred to me by someone else, he has an idea of what I’m best known for. He’s hiring me for qualities he like; it would make sense for him to step back and allow me to do what I do. Like a good theatrical director who tries to keep as much natural movement, mannerisms, and speech patterns as the actor cast in the role brings into it, it doesn’t serve you to micro-direct your voice talent. You hired them for a reason, let them “do their thing.”


Allison Smith is a professional telephone voice, having voiced platforms for Sprint, Verizon, Qwest, Cingular, Bell Canada, Vonage, Twitterfone, Hawaiian Telcom, and the Asterisk Open-Source PBX. Her Web site is