Bouquet or Bucket? Research reveals more than a third of Brits have a phone voice

  • Over a third of people (36%) admit they change their voice when they are on the phone
  • Nearly half (46%) try to make themselves more well-spoken and 30% try to sound more intelligent
  • Over half (56%) of 18-24s say they change their voice on the phone, versus 19% of over 55s 
  • Just one in 11 (9%) Brits use Voice ID services for banking, compared to nearly half (46%) who use fingerprint ID to access banking and payment services

New research1 has revealed that over a third (36%) of people in the UK change their voice when they’re on the phone. Nearly half (46%) said they change their voice to make themselves sound more well-spoken and 30% because they want to sound more intelligent.

The research commissioned by Santander UK also revealed that while nearly half (46%) of Brits use their fingerprint to access banking and payment services, less than one in 11 (9%) use Voice ID – despite your voice being as unique as your fingerprint. Nearly a quarter (23%) said that the reason they don’t use Voice ID is because they don’t like the sound of their voice.

Just under one fifth (17%) of people said that their regional accent comes through more strongly on the phone. Scots are most likely to change their voice with nearly half (46%) of Aberdeen residents saying they do so when they’re on the phone. Meanwhile, Sheffield residents are the least likely to change their voice (60% do not change their voice) with a fifth (21%) saying when they do change their voice, it’s to try to sound more local. People in Norwich feel the pressure to sound intelligent the most, with over half (52%) who change their voice admitting that’s their intention. 

Brits seem to be putting on their phone voice for anyone and everyone, including clients (16%), work colleagues (12%) and even strangers (18%). In fact, over a fifth (21%) said they automatically change their voice when answering a number they don’t recognise.

The research comes as Santander UK’s Voice ID service, which launched in 20192, has seen a 127% increase in registrations during the pandemic3 as more people use Telephone Banking to access their accounts. 

With 68% of Brits reporting that they find it a struggle to remember passwords, Voice ID users simply repeat the phrase “At Santander my voice is my password” to access Telephone Banking services. More 55-64 year olds are signing up for Voice ID than any other age group.

Santander’s biometric Voice ID security technology analyses over 100 characteristics of the human voice - more than can be heard by the human ear. The technology can even detect a recording of someone’s voice being played over the telephone. 

Gavin Smith, Voice ID lead at Santander UK, said: “It’s revealing that a lot of us are self-conscious about how we sound on the phone. Everyone’s voice is unique and that’s what matters for Voice ID - not your phone voice. With Voice ID, there are no passcodes to remember. It’s quick and simple to set up – and most importantly, it’s secure. When it comes to the most effective password you’ve got, it really is right on the tip of your tongue.” 

When it comes to voices we aspire to, David Attenborough was voted the favourite celebrity voice, closely followed by Joanna Lumley and then Idris Elba. 

To find out more about Voice ID please visit 

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Notes to Editors 

  1. The research was carried out online by Research Without Barriers – RWB. All surveys were conducted between 18th November 2020 and 24th November 2020. The sample comprised 2,009 UK adults. All research conducted adheres to the UK Market Research Society (MRS) code of conduct (2019). RWB is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and complies with the DPA (1998).
  3. Registrations between 01 March – 02 December 2020.

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 30 June 2020, the bank had around 23,000 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in Europe and the Americas, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Its purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising over €120 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2025, as well as financially empowering more than 10 million people over the same period. At the end of the first half of 2020, Banco Santander had more than a trillion euros in total funds, 146 million customers, of which 21.5 million are loyal and 40 million are digital, 11,800 branches and 194,000 employees.

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