Hiring pros to record your IVR voice is a good move in pretty much every case. Of course, the DIY route can be awfully tempting, but don’t underestimate how much a really good automated first impression can matter.

Nevertheless, there are still a few niche situations in which having a professional IVR recording is not entirely necessary—like if you have very low call volumes, a tiny customer base, or an extremely tight budget. That said, most established businesses will reap big rewards by partnering with professional voice talent to create top-of-the-line IVR recordings.

Professional vs. Non-Professional IVR Recordings – What’s the Big Difference?

Interactive voice response (IVR) technology is what is used to make pre-recorded audio messages that help callers navigate an automated phone system menu. For example, when you call a business and hear, “Press 1 for sales, press 2 for customer support,” that’s an IVR system. Basically, IVRs allow companies to receive and route calls efficiently without a human operator.

The voice talent behind an IVR carries a big responsibility—it’s often the first direct point of contact a business will have with its customers. As such, the IVR recording sets the tone for the caller’s experience, which is why its quality and professionalism are so important.

Professional Voice Talent vs. DIY Recordings

Hiring someone to be the voice of your IVR system is less about the sound of their voice and more about their experience behind a microphone.

Experienced voice actors who specialize in IVR recordings understand pacing, enunciation, and how to deliver messages that will resonate with listeners. As a result, they’re able to deliver clear and engaging audio with a friendly and welcoming tone.

In contrast, inexperienced voice actors and employees who decide to jank together some homemade recordings can sound awkward and off-putting to callers.

If your budget is tight, another option is to use automated text-to-speech tools and AI voices—but be careful because these often leave an undesirable impression on callers. While AI voice technology is still gaining traction, it’s not quite advanced enough yet to replicate the natural cadence of a seasoned voiceover talent.

4 Reasons to (Still) Choose a Professional IVR Recording

Even with the recent advancements of AI, professional voice talent remains head and shoulders above computer generated audio.

Here are 5 compelling reasons why human-recorded IVRs remain the gold standard:

1. Professional Talent Sounds More Credible

Hiring a professional voice actor to record your IVR simply sounds more polished and authoritative than its alternatives. This is a big deal when you want to establish trust with first-time callers. In fact, over 80% of consumers see businesses more positively when their phone systems have greetings with a professional voice as opposed to an amateur or text-to-speech recording.

2. It Drives Up Call Containment

Professional voice actors use subtle and precise techniques to engage callers, including friendly inflections and calm pacing. This results in better call containment, meaning callers will stay on the line longer rather than abandoning the call.

3. Better Reflects Brand Identity

The vocal tone you choose for your IVR should align with your company’s voice and persona. With thousands of voiceover talents on the market, you’ll have no problem finding a voice to match your company’s brand voice and tone. This continuity across channels can make your messaging and brand identity more cohesive.

4. Managed, End-to-End IVR Design

Professional IVR studios don’t just record audio—they specialize in designing optimized IVR flows, building out phone trees, crafting effective scripts, and incorporating custom elements such as hold music. These behind-the-scenes elements are just as crucial for IVR efficacy and caller satisfaction as the voice itself.

Professional IVR Recording Challenges You Should Know

As with any business investment, there are some tradeoffs and risks involved in professional-level phone trees versus basic DIY options. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons to determine what’s right for your company.

Higher Upfront Costs

Professional studio recordings come at a higher initial price point than DIY recordings. Usually, however, the long-term benefits will outweigh the costs. When designed well, IVRs can even cut labor costs by reducing the demand for human representatives and improving the workplace satisfaction of the staff you retain.

Slower Turnaround Time

Quality studio production and talent booking take time. While amateur recordings can be nearly instant, you should expect a 1-2 week turnaround with pros. Complex projects with multiple script revisions may take longer, but the finished product is usually worth the wait.

Limited Control

By hiring outside talent and producers, you inevitably lose some creative control. However, try to think of professional studios as partners, not vendors. Good communication ensures the final IVR will align with your brand vision and goals. Be ready to offer feedback—but also trust their expertise.

Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution

Each IVR solution should match the unique needs and workflows of the given business. If a studio promotes a cookie-cutter IVR formula for all clients, it likely won’t get you the results you’re looking for. Instead, you should ask for a customized phone tree that fits your organization’s support needs.

The (Few) Cases When Professional IVR Recordings Aren’t for You

Though professionally designed and recorded messages are strongly encouraged for most phone trees, there are some niche cases where DIY options can suffice. Here are a few scenarios in which an amateur or AI voice can make the most sense based on your needs.

When Your Call Volume Is Very Low

If your business receives fewer than one hundred calls per day, the ROI of a professionally done IVR is harder to justify. With such low call volume, quick DIY recordings or basic text-to-speech tools can get the job done.

You Have a Tight Budget

For cash-strapped startups and small businesses, free and/or low-cost DIY options may be the only viable route despite their drawbacks. Consider having the owners record menu options themselves as a short-term solution—customers might find it cute. Of course, you can always hire professional voiceover talent later on.

You Don’t Need Many Layers in Your IVR Menu

If your phone tree will only have 1-2 menu levels before routing to a single department, you may not need a complex IVR. A basic DIY or text-to-speech recorder could work, but remember to make the recording sound as polished as possible.

You Need to Make Quick, Temporary Changes

For one-off updates like holiday hours that will revert shortly after, using a faster, more accessible recording option makes sense. In other words, it’s not always worth booking a studio and waiting around for quick patches.

The bottom line here is that although most established brands with moderate call volumes should make professional IVR recordings their first choice, certain niche cases can sometimes warrant foregoing the professional route.

How to Choose the Right IVR Recording Service for You

Selecting the right IVR partner involves more than just assessing voice samples. You also need to vet their ability to design and create a phone tree that will reduce the number of incoming calls your support agents have to service each day.

Remember, depending on the size and type of call center your organization operates, an IVR recording could save your support agents hundreds to thousands of hours each week.

Consider the following ways to vet potential IVR service providers to find the best one for your business.

Know Your Needs

If you don’t know what your exact support needs are, your IVR investment can be very wasteful.

Start by documenting your business’s core IVR goals and activities. Then, outline the caller journey you want to create and plan your menu options. Lastly, consider your expected call volumes and peak call hours.

Setting these parameters in advance will give your IVR partner context for your project, so you can determine if they are the right fit.

Vet Studios in Your Area

Search providers in your region and vet a few of the top contenders. Once you’ve made a list of your most viable options, review their sample recordings and assess the audio quality. You should ask if they offer full-service scripting, building, and recording for your phone tree—not just voice talent.

Compare Pricing Between Service Providers

Most studios base their price rates to go by minute, by project, or by retainer. In practice, you can expect voiceover rates for IVR projects to range from $100 to $500 per hour.

Once you’ve set your budget, you can compare the expected value of each potential IVR service to determine which provider gives you the best deal.

Check Online Reviews Before Booking

Before committing to an IVR recording studio, take some time to review feedback and reviews from past clients. You can also search online for third-party reviews and testimonials.

As you conduct your research, look for recent reviews on factors like audio sample quality, account management, customization abilities, and overall professionalism. Reaching out to past clients directly is also a great way to vet your potential IVR service provider—as long as you’re not creepy about it.

What to Expect With Your IVR Recording

Before you hand over your cash to a professional voiceover talent or studio, it’s important to understand that your phone tree is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of project. If you want to get the most out of your investment, you need to take several factors into account.

For example, you can already expect that your IVR system will need to make updates as your business scales and changes. Make sure to monitor your IVR’s performance data—like its containment rate and opt-outs—to gauge how well your IVR is working and where changes might need to be made. If your performance data isn’t showing positive results, it may be time for an update.

You should also try to find an IVR service provider who can act as a long-term collaborator so you can make timely updates to your phone tree as needed.

The best providers tend to use caller analytics to help refine your flows, menus, hours of operation, and scripts. This kind of optimization is what separates an average IVR and a high-performing, customer-focused IVR.

To make sure that your IVR system works at its best, remember to resist the temptation to cling to design choices based on assumptions. Instead, you should A/B test different recordings with sample caller groups. That way, you can let the data guide your decisions.

Yes, it’s a lot of work—and yes, optimization costs and time commitments add up. However, the rewards for going with professionals include higher containment, lower opt-outs, and more positive brand impressions. In other words, DIY methods may save you money upfront, but professional IVR recordings will deliver you more value in the long term.