Archive for November, 2009

On being a winner

Everyone likes to be a winner, and I’m especially happy today! Imagine my surprise when going to Michelle Miller’s Wonderbranding site, and seeing my name in the winners list! I’ve won a signed copy of Tom Wanek’s book “Currencies That Buy Credibility”. I’ve seen excerpts from the book, and I’m looking forward to reading it!

If you want to win with customers, and want tools and techniques to drive more traffic, sales, and word-of-mouth, you need this book!

How long until I hear my message…?

One of the most frequent questions I am asked is “How long until our On-Hold message is setup?” Or in the case of existing clients “How long will it take until my update is ready?”

 So to help answer those questions, I’m going to break down the process into steps, so you can see exactly how an On-Hold message is produced. Think of it as pulling back the curtain, and giving you a glimpse into my world. Ready? Here we go!

If you are a new client, we’ve probably had a phone call or face to face meeting to find out how our service can help you…what some of your pain points are.

This is followed up by us preparing a custom proposal that addresses the topics we discussed, and presents several options for you. That usually happens one day after our initial conversation.

Once you approve the agreement, we schedule a time to do a more thorough “uncovery” of your business. We delve into understanding your customer, your caller profile, and how customers interact with your business. Don’t worry if you don’t know all that stuff…we’ll help you walk through it. That takes an hour or two, and can be done on the phone.

We then go to work crafting an initial script, based on our uncovery. This takes anywhere from 3 to 5 days, after which, we send the initial script to you for your approval.

Next we reccomend voices and music styles to you, and begin producing the On-Hold message. This process takes 3-5 days to complete. We send the completed production to you for review, and after receiving your approval, we schedule a time to install the On-Hold player, and load the message.

Plugging in the player is quite simple, and in fact, we are able to walk you through that over the phone most of the time!
Once the player is connected properly, it automatically downloads your new message right away, and begins playing in to your callers!

Overall, the entire process takes 10 to 14 days, depending on how quickly we hear back from you at the differant approval steps.

If you are an existing client, the paperwork on the front end, and the installation on the back end don’t apply, but the rest of the process is exactly the same. So about 10 to 14 days for your update to be loaded.

 If you like to see things visually, here is a complete timeline, including what parts of the process you are involved in, and what things are our responsibility. (View the timeline full size in a new window)


Update your message…update your caller

How often to update the messages your callers hear On-Hold.

One of the most frequent questions I hear is “how often should I change my On-Hold message?” This is usually coming from a business owner who is already juggling more hats than a hat-stand!

Ultimately, the value of your On-Hold message is measured by the value it brings to your callers. Are your messages relevant? Are you talking to your customer in their language, using the words they want to hear?

So when do you update your On-Hold message?

Here are the factors that should go into that decision;

What is the caller profile?

Which means, is one caller calling once a week, for 2 months? Or are they calling once a day for a week? Once per quarter? Once per year?

How many phone calls do you get in a day?

Understanding your caller profile is the first step towards understanding how to craft your message to be relevant to them.

How long will they hear it?

Consider how long your caller will be listening to your message. (This also determines the length and structure of your On-Hold message, but that will have to be for a different post!)
Are they hearing thirty seconds or five minutes?

A caller that hears five minutes of your On-hold message is going to quickly tire of what they hear. You’ll need to change that quite often to make their call experience a good one.

Be Specific

The more specific you can be in your On-Hold message, the more impact it will have on your caller. Usually the more specific you are, the more you will need to keep your message current, in order to remain connected with your caller.

Tie it into other marketing

Your new print ad was just published. You’re crossing your fingers, and hoping your dollars were well spent. And how the phone rings. What your caller hears while their On-Hold can have a huge impact on reinforcing the advertising you do, or sounding disconnected from other marketing efforts.

Do you update your On-Hold message whenever you change your ad or publish a new one? If you don’t, you’re not serving your customers well. Have you ever clicked a link in an email, expecting to be taken to a spefici product page, or to learn more about something, and instead you land on the home page of the company? You’re left searching for the product or information that you want.

The same thing happens to your caller when your On-Hold message isn’t coordinated with your marketing. Don’t make them hunt for information…they may just start hunting with your competition!

Surprise them!

One of the best ways to keep them tuned in to your message is to surprise them with new information.

Recently I was working through an “uncovery” with a new client that provides mailing services, and they mentioned that a lot of their customers weren’t aware that they also provided document storage, archiving, and shredding.

What a terrific opportunity to connect with people that you are already doing business with, to let them show them how you can help solve other pain points in their life!

Common update times

You will find some fairly common update recommendations from On-Hold providers. These include:

·      Daily

·      Monthly

·      Quarterly

·      Semi-Annually

After reviewing your caller profile, your other marketing, specific products or services you want to promote, and you’ve thought about ways to surprise your caller, you’ll have a much better understanding of how often you should have your On-Hold message updated.

Two ways your phone is killing your sales

Take control of your phone experience to elevate your company by knowing when to use an automated attendant.

Have you made the decision to use an auto attendant? What went into that decision? Your company needs an edge, and how your phone is answered is a critical area to start.

Consider this example: A company with a “live answer only” policy thinks they are pleasing their callers. But in reality, without a dedicated receptionist, a caller’s experience will be different every time. And with 4 dedicated sales people answering the call, callers only have a 25% chance of their salesperson answering the call. If they don’t, it means hold time, transferring, and maybe voicemail hell! That’s a difficult environment to make your company stand out!

Here’s where you gain an edge. This is a perfect environment to implement an auto-attendant solution. But give your callers the control over where they go. Offer your sales people’s extensions right up front, so callers can reach them by name, extension, or option. This gives them a precision experience, reaching exactly the right person 100% of the time.

A second benefit to your company is eliminating interruptions and distractions for your employees. Pugh Research says that every time a call takes your employee off task, it takes up to 10 minutes for them to recover. Once they no longer have to

handle calls for fellow employees, they will stay much more focused on the task at hand.

Your competition has made a knee-jerk reaction to how their phone is answered. Now you can get a step ahead by extending your superior showroom experience over the phone to your valuable callers.

Rock your customer’s world, while controlling the interruptions for your staff!

Live or auto-attendant? Evaluate your inside environment to make that decision with confidence.

So how does it feel to have an edge on your competition? Winning the phone war wasn’t hard, was it?

Enjoy your happy customers! (and that’s a win for everyone!)

Next week we’ll talk about how to make your auto attendant draw your caller in.

Breaking through the phone system!

How not answering the phone will help connect with your customer

Think about the last time you called a company, and were given the run around. “I’ll try to connect you” the perky receptionist said, before dumping you into a permanent hold pattern. After an eternity, someone did pick up the phone, but it was the receptionist again…”I’m sorry, I’m still trying to locate him…” more hold time. Pretty frustrating, isn’t it? So many companies don’t think how inefficient their caller experience really is, and it’s frustrating callers who just want to get right to their salesperson!

Just this week we worked with a fast-paced home sales company who required their calls to be answered live. But with up to 6 people answering the phone, the chance of a caller reaching their dedicated salesperson were pretty slim! “I’ll transfer you” was heard more often than “I can help you!”

Solution? They should have used an Auto-Attendant to answer the phones. Callers would be greeted with a consice greeting, then given the option to speak the name of their salesperson, or enter their extention. If the sales person was available, the caller would be talking (and buying!) in very short order. And if the sales person was not available, the call goes straight to voicemail, where a custom greeting assured they would be called back that same day.

Bottom line? There are companies that should answer the phones with a live person. But there are plenty of times where an Auto-Attendant will actually give your callers what they want, in a more efficient, easy way.

Have you called your company lately? Go ahead, do it now. Comment below on your experience.

Next week, we’ll talk about making an impression over the phone.

Implementing an Auto-Attendant keeps employees on track

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Methods and logic behind your Auto-Attendant, and how to make it helpful for your callers, while keeping your employees on task.


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The decision to implement an auto attendant to handle calls is often done without all the facts and data needed to fully understand the pros and cons. Many businesses feel that the only way to not frustrate callers is to have a live person answer the phone. While people do like to talk to a live person, as we’ll see below, there are specific situations where having an automated attendant can actually be less confusing for your caller, while keeping your employees more organized.


A recent home sales client of ours has a policy of only answering the phone with a live person. With no dedicated receptionist, any of the sales people may answer. Each homebuyer works with a dedicated salesperson throughout the process. So let’s take a look at the typical caller experience:


·      You call the Home Sales center to speak with Bill about your new home.

·      Sally answers the phone, asking how she can help

·      You ask to speak to Bill

·      Sally looks for Bill at his desk, doesn’t see him, and asks to put you On-hold.

·      Sally comes back to the phone after not being able to find Bill, and asks if she can put you into his voicemail

·      You leave a message for Bill, hoping that he checks his voicemail often!


With six people answering the phone, the chance of your dedicated salesperson answering your call is less than 17%! You have a one in six chance of reaching them on the first call!


So let’s examine the caller experience process if the home sales center made one small change…to have an Automated Attendant answer the call:


·      You call the Home Sales center to speak with Bill about your new home.

·      The auto-Attendant greets you, and asks you to say the name of the person you are calling, or enter their extension.

·      You speak “Bill”, and the system immediately transfers you to Bill’s phone

·      Bill either picks up if he is available, or the call goes directly to his voicemail, saving you time, and the frustration of explaining why you are calling to multiple people!


Now, as a business owner, there is something else to consider in this process. The methodology of having a person answer the phone causes Sally to be sidetracked from her work.

In fact, New York consulting firm Basex reports that workers are “losing” 10 hours per week to interruptions. That’s 500 hours per year!

With an average pay of $21 per hour for knowledge workers, the implementation of a simple Auto-Attendant could save you $10,500 per employee per year. Is now the time to reconsider your “live answer” policy?


Next week: Image enhancing methods to improve your caller experience

Can technology forge stronger relationships?

Making your callers feel good about your company starts the moment your phone is answered. If you want to forge strong relationships, you won’t give your callers the runaround. And oftentimes, having a “live answer only” policy will actually frustrate your callers!
Let’s consider the example of a recent home sales client. They felt that having a live person answer the phone, every call, would be the best way to serve their customers.

In the case of this company, each new homebuyer works with a dedicated salesperson to customize their experience. But with four salespeople answering the call, it would be unlikely that a customer would speak directly with their salesperson without being put on-hold or transferred!

A better solution would be for the company to implement a custom Auto-attendant. Yes, that goes against the grain of customer service, but consider how it would feel to reach an auto attendant, with the option of connecting directly with your salesperson! (some even give the option to reach them by cell phone if they’re not available!) Which means less hold time, less transferring, and only one time of having to explain why they are calling!

You can enrich your caller’s experience with an Auto-attendant. Yes, you can use technology to actually improve your relationships with your customers.

Next week we’ll talk about what image you are presenting to your customers.

10 Tips for IVR Success | Ifbyphone

10 Tips for IVR Success | Ifbyphone

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