Voice broadcasts can be used effectively to improve parent, student and staff communication, provided they are used correctly, professionally and within the guidelines of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
There are several distinct applications, such as automated attendance and lunch balance calls, scheduled communications, and facility closure or delayed opening notices that parents and staff welcome receiving from their district via this channel.
To guide your use of the voice broadcasting channel, we offer the following best practice tips for recording your own voice messages as .wav files, as well as for use of our text-to-speech recognition system:
1. Choose the Right Caller ID: Many recipients check the caller ID before they answer. You will get more live answers with a known caller ID.
Tip! When setting up your default settings or revising them via the Settings menu in 2.0, we recommend using a phone number that routes to more than one line or individual in the school. This is to avoid busy signals and/or unnecessary burden for the individual receiving callbacks from recipients. For more information on setting up or editing your default settings in 2.0, click here.
2. Develop a Quality Script Between 35-45 Seconds: Write out what you need to convey; work on the copy to eliminate unnecessary words and information.
- Focus on the facts. Write short sentences with correct syntactic structure.
- Keep the message longer than 30 seconds, but less than 60 seconds, if possible. Studies suggest that recipients start to tune out after 40 seconds of listening.
- In addition, with the national average of an outbound voicemail message as 24 seconds, and our system answering based on “off hook” detection (the system starts the message upon hearing a voice response, repeating the message upon hearing the “beep” of the voicemail), you want to ensure that your message is received in its entirety versus truncated, or not at all.
3. Quality Voice & Recording: If recording your own message, the person speaking should have a clear, strong, friendly sounding voice. The recording should have good sound quality - no static, skips, and avoid long pauses at the outset of a recording, as a long pause can increase hang ups.
4. Include a Replay Option: After the body of the recording, either repeat the message beginning with “To repeat” or consider use of our Hot Keys option. This Hot Key feature will only work if the voice call is 'answered live' and allows for recipients to press a key on their dial pad to replay the message.This will help to personalize the message, as well as to offer opportunity for immediate bi-directional communication. For example: press 1 to transfer to the main office, press 2 to repeat this message and press the star key on your keypad to stop this message.
Tip! Alert Solutions recommends that if your transfer number cannot route automatically to a specific department, please consider using a valid phone number that is linked to a Staff Directory or similar, to avoid calls back to a singular individual.
5. Differentiate Content of your Message Between Live Voice and Voice Mail: A good service provider, like Alert Solutions, will be able to differentiate between live and voice mail answer. Tailor your message to each answer type by recording a separate .wav file for those receiving the message Live versus those receiving it via voicemail.
6. Text-to-Speech Specific Best Practices: To ensure proper use of our text to speech capabilities within 2.0, here are some hints:
- Phonetic Swapping: Separate potentially difficult to pronounce names with similar sounding words or phrases (example: Harambee would be written in your text to speech box as “Hair Aim Bay”)
- Abbreviations: Use capital letters when grammatically appropriate, applying standard conventions for representing numbers and abbreviations (“zero” versus “0”; U S D versus USD (US Dollar). If you feel that the abbreviation will still be too complicated to interpret by the individual, consider spelling out the word, instead. Remember, 'when in doubt, spell it out'.
- Separate Phone Numbers with Spaces: As the text-to-speech editor will read a series of numbers as an integer, if not appropriately separated (14012438432 should be written as 1 4 0 1 2 4 3 8 4 3 2)
7. Communicate in your Parent Population's Preferred Language: You can easily communicate to your parent population in their native language, especially if not fluent in English.
- Alert Solutions' Communication Suite offers multi-language translation capabilities for both text-to-speech and text-to-text messages. This information will be pulled directly from the appropriate field in PowerSchool containing this information. Simply advise your Account Manager of which field in your PowerSchool student table houses this information, as well as the aligned Source codes for the language preferences (example: 01= Spanish; Sp= Spanish)
- Alert Solutions 2.0 currently supports over 90 languages for both text-to-speech and text-to-text messages including Spanish, French, Italian, German, Cantonese, Mandarin and Vietnamese. Please click here to view an example of available preferred languages that are supported.