Businesses to Focus on Brand Voice as Consumers Reject Regional Accents

Monday, October 25, 2010 by Nuance Communications UK

Nuance Communications, a leading provider of speech solutions, has announced that the way a brand or business 'sounds' could be as important as how it 'looks', according to new research into voice branding. With 56% of Britons stating that they are more inclined to listen to a special offer or promotion if it came from a voice that they find appealing, businesses cannot afford to ignore the growing importance of voice within promotion and customer service.

The research, conducted by YouGov, reveals that over half (52%) of British consumers find a 'Queen's English' accent appealing when speaking with someone in a call centre. The Scottish accent remains popular, coming in as the second most pleasing accent to listen to, (with 34% of consumers finding it appealing), whilst a north-east, 'Geordie' accent is the third most popular accent with 26% of consumers finding it appealing. The least popular regional UK accents are from Liverpool 'Scouse'(9%), and Birmingham, 'Brummie' (9%).

Ian Turner, Northern European general manager at Nuance Communications, said: "It is human nature to react differently to varying types of voices, based on accent, gender and tone. What this survey highlights is exactly how important it is for businesses to recognise the impact that brand has at every customer touch point. Some of the world's biggest companies invest millions of pounds each year ensuring that the way their brands 'look' and 'feel' reflect the values and beliefs of the brand. Yet very few organisations actually think about how their brand 'speaks', despite the fact that the vast majority of customer service communication and advertising is based on listening."

Whilst many organisations continue to pursue a strategy of off-shoring customer call centres in the belief that this approach is most cost-effective, today's research reveals that around two-thirds (65%) of Britons who have called a call centre find non-British accents hard to understand. Among those over 45 years-of-age, this figure rises to over 70% of people. In addition, although consumers are on the whole still favourable towards the Scottish accent, 31% of people find it the most difficult accent to understand after non-UK accents. Illustrating the potential direct impact of voice branding on sales, over half of respondents (56%) would be more inclined to listen to a special offer or promotion if it came from a voice they found appealing.

"Businesses cannot afford to let the sound of their brand fall by the wayside as this can impact hugely on the public perception of a business. CEOs must take this factor into consideration if they are to successfully integrate the sense of their brand across their customer facing offerings," explains Ian Turner.

Survey carried out online by YouGov, amoung 2,072 British adults aged 18+. Data is weighted to be representative of the UK population. Fieldwork ran from 30 October – 1 November 2009.