Users Prefer the Female Voice in IVR Systems
October 01, 2012
By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Developers are constantly upgrading the technology behind interactive voice response (IVR) systems. It’s the reason that the IVR system found in almost every successful business is bringing such great value to the workplace. It’s no wonder then that researchers are also looking at the tone of the IVR system in configuring how to upgrade the user experience.
According to this Live Science report, studies showed many years ago that the automated voice in the cockpit of fighter planes affected the performance of the fighter pilot. In that scenario, male pilots reacted more positively to the sound of an automated voice mimicking that of a female. Researchers have taken note of the fact that the gender and the “personality” of the IVR system voice can also have an unconscious affect on the user.
Mobile technology, as captured in this Phys.org piece, has increased the popularity of the IVR system. Look at Apple’s (News - Alert) Siri or Android’s Iris as examples of how every day, ordinary citizens are interacting with an IVR system. The computer-generated voice that sounds digitally processed and inhuman has an effect that is less responsive on the individual than that of the voice that sounds closer to a human.
A recent study put users in contact with an IVR system using a female voice and another IVR system that used a male voice. The tones of the voices ranged from upbeat to serious to sympathetic as it asked questions regarding various health-related topics. The researchers found that the voice in the IVR system did make a difference. While the male voice was more “usable,” the female voice was more “trustworthy.”
Researchers know that it is easier to find a female voice that is pleasing to many people, but finding the same response in a male voice is not so easy. One scientist from Stanford University said it is a well-established phenomenon that the human brain is wired to trust the female voice. The process leading to this behavior is thought to develop in the womb.
Since the dawn of telecommunications, the predominant voice heard through dialing zero has been that of a female, which some believe has ingrained in humans the idea of a disembodied voice should be that of a female. Likewise, most Americans grew up in the classroom with a female teacher.
The default voice on GPS systems is female. While many devices using an IVR system allow for a choice, the most popular is that of the female voice. As the IVR system gets updated, it’s likely that the tone of the voice speaking to the user will be upgraded as much as the software, which can only further enhance the IVR system experience.
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Edited by Rachel Ramsey