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Archive for June, 2009

Dial M for Mother

Monday, June 8th, 2009



India has a population of well over 1 Billion people, with an annual growth rate of 1.7% of the total population – so childbirth is quite a busy industry!  Unlike many large countries, 75% of women live in rural areas, where the infrastructure is less developed; safe, accurate pre natal health care and advice is also less readily available.  Historically, women also are less likely than a man to have access to the internet in these areas.  Delivery of accurate, up to date health advice for pregnant women was required, via a medium that is cheaply and easily accessible to all.  An IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system was chosen as the platform to reach mothers– to–be, due to the relative availability of low price mobile handsets (set to rise to 450 million subscribers by 2010) and call costs as low as one half of 1 rupee per minute.


The aim: to help tackle the relatively high Infant Mortality Rates in some non – urban Indian areas, which are as high as 96/1000 births in some states.   As a secondary objective, tackling common, but easy to treat conditions that effect mothers – to – be in the country, such as Eclampsia and Anaemia was required.  35 weeks of pregnancy advice on a range of topics would be produced, recorded in both English and Hindi, along with related ‘Navigation Prompts’ to allow for the smooth functioning of the IVR system.


Information and advice was compiled by Content Consultants, working with a team of health care professionals based in India.  Your message worked to source an English and Hindi speaking female voiceover. Former ‘The Bill’ actor Seema Bowry was chosen for those skills and her relatable, friendly style of delivery.  Four recording sessions were conducted in studios based in London’s Soho, covering the English speaking content for the project.

Hindi speaking voices were cast and booked and a studio located in Delhi, the Indian base for the Babycenter website.  The Your Message team were then flown over to the Capital and spent 6 days intensively working in the studio recording, editing and converting the sound files to the appropriate ‘Vox’ format, for use in the IVR system.  There were some long nights and early mornings, as a demo version of the service was required to be up and running within days of arrival, for the American parent company to have a listen to.


In total, over 800 separate pieces of audio were recorded and edited, including navigation prompts and content ‘buckets’, in both English and Hindi.  The key driver was to make the information reliable, trusted and accessible, with only subtle mentions of the Babycenter ‘Brand’ at the start of the navigation process.  Once the information had been delivered, 1 x 10 second ‘tag’ promoting Johnson & Johnson soap was included, to minimise the disruption to the flow of the informative content.

As a final part in the process, a BETA version of the phone system was moved onto the UAT (User Acceptance Testing) stage, which would iron out any bugs and problems; the panel was comprised of a cross section of 100 members from within the target group.