Archive for February, 2010

Measuring the need for On-Hold Messaging

One question we deal with in our free On-Hold message consultations is whether acompany can benefit from a custom On-Hold message or not.

So how will you, the busy business owner, know when an investment to reach your callers while On-Hold will return good results?

How many calls do you receive?

Over the course of a day, a week, or even a month…how many calls does your business receive? Have you ever thought about counting them? Have you ever tried?
You could get your receptionist or employees to just make a quick tally whenever they answer the calls. It might not be the most technologically advanced method, but it will give you a better understanding of how many calls you do receive!

Or, we can help you with counting calls, as part of our Caller Experience Evaluation service.

How long are callers On-Hold?

We talk with some companies who tell us “We don’t put people On-Hold”, but willing it not to happen doesn’t mean it never does.

Being On-Hold is a fact of life for most businesses. But On-Hold time really falls into two categories:

1. Long hold times…like call centers, tech support, and customer service. These are hold times counted in tens of minutes. (I know…I was On-Hold with American Express for 42 minutes today!)

2. Short hold times…these are hold times that we often don’t think about. Being transferred to another person, or sent to voicemail. Or waiting while someone looks up our order. These are usually measured in seconds. You may be On-Hold for 10 seconds while going to voicemail, 30 seconds while being transferred to the person with whom you would like to speak, or for a minute or two while someone looks up your order, or checks the stock of an item.

These two very different categories require different approches. But for category #2, which most small businesses fall into, optimizing that On-hold time can bring very much value to the caller.

So how do you measure it?

Spend two days asking your staff to roughly track how many calls go On-Hold or are transferred. Again, a simple tally will work. Monitoring a few of those calls will give you a great idea of how long the average hold time is at your company.

Again, this is something we can you with if you like, with our Caller Experience Evaluation.

Then with that information, we can begin to measure the value that a custom On-Hold message can bring to your company.

And if your business really is one of those that doesn’t put people On-Hold? We’ll tell you that as well.

Quantifying the Caller Experience will bring a clearer picture on areas your Caller Experience can improve to maximize customer service.

Remember, you can’t improve what you don’t measure!

On-Hold Message Calms Angry Man

I walked into a meeting with a client recently, to

Calm Down

discuss updating their On-Hold message. As I sat down, the business owner said “Let me tell you a story.”

Well, I’m always up for a good story, so I listened.

And here’s the strange tale that I heard!

“The other day” says Mr. Owner, “we received a call from a customer whose job had not been going well. There were issues…some our fault, and some not. But things kept piling up until the customer got pretty upset! He called us up because he was frustrated, and wanted to get his problem solved right here and now. The receptionist answered the phone and listened to the customer explain his story. Knowing that the only possibility of making this customer happy was for him to talk directly to me, she placed him On-Hold while she located me. I took a deep breath and reached for the phone, ready to be yelled at by an angry customer.”

“I was greeting by laughter. That’s right, the caller had gone from irate to laughing, in the few minutes he was On-Hold! He said he really enjoyed our On-Hold message, and we talked about the ways we try to have fun with the On-Hold message.”

“We then proceeded to quickly clear up the issues with the job, and get things back on track. But only because of the On-Hold message we have with Prosound. That’s one thing I know we’re doing right!”

And there you have it. Proof of the therapeutic power of On-Hold Messaging. (cue the “ommmmm’s” and the strings”)

Does YOUR caller experience powered by strings, monks, and angels? Or do callers believe you use a pitchfork to push the Hold button?

With a little work, your On-Hold message can be heavenly!

Updating your On-Hold message…around the globe!

For some companies, it’s fairly easy to update their On-Hold message. They simply walk over to the phone system, insert a USB stick, and they’re done.

But what happens when you need to coordinate updating 32 locations around the world, and they all have to be updated at the same time, on a specific day?

Well, you do what Piedmont Hawthorne did and trust Prosound to handle the message updating with Network-connected On-Hold players.

Piedmont Hawthorne was in the process of completing the aquisition of Garrett Aviation, and changing the new combined company name to Landmark Aviation. The On-Hold message was a key part of the marketing reach, especially to existing customer bases for both companies. But it had to be timed exactly right.

We worked with Piedmont Hawthorne for several weeks prior to the roll-out to develop messaging that would introduce the new company brand, while not alienating previous brand loyalists.

We also put in place the Net7000 On-Hold message player at each location, to prepare for the update. The Net7000 is a network-connected On-hold player. It plugs into the company network, and accesses our secure Audio Server to download updates and changes…automatically.

The units were installed at each location, which consisted of simply plugging in the network cable, the audio cable, and the power cable. These units are set to pick up their IP address by DHCP, so it was quite a smooth process to install them.
These units connect to our Audio Server over an outbound-only connection, via port 80. That makes them more secure then the computer at your front desk! They are also programmed to check back multiple times each day, so they’ll know right away when new content has been scheduled to download.
We have a great deal of control over scheduling and updating these units, which gives us a tremendous capability to coordinate with a new brand roll-out such as Landmark Aviation!

We produced the new On-Hold messages for Landmark, and loaded them into our Audio Server.

The productions and roll-out dates were assigned to the Net7000 players.

Everything was set for a seamless brand introduction.

On the day the new company was announced, the units downloaded the new productions right on schedule, and began playing right away. All automatically. The staff at each location had enough on their hands without having to worry about updating the On-Hold message!

We were able to handle this in an efficient, brand supporting way, because of the use of our Net7000 On-Hold message player.

These are the types of situations that have made us standardize on the Net7000. When a client asks if we can update their message for a holiday, unscheduled closing, or last minute sale, we have the capability to do so…quickly and easily.

Network-connected On-Hold players are one more way we help companies transform their caller experience!

Don’t put me On-Hold!

How often have you heard “Don’t  put  me On-hold!”. I’ll be you’ve  thought  that a few times yourself!
Being On-Hold is often a frustrating  experience. But let’s break it down  and  examine why it’s frustrating.

Taking your time

Number one, it’s taking your time.  Time that could be spent doing  other t things. And companies that  have long  hold times (we’re talking  more than 5  minutes or so), really  need to evaluate t  their staffing or  procedures for  handling calls.


Ah…the dreaded silence. Have I been disconnected? Am I being transferred? Did I just get put into the phone system’s Black Hole? (most phone systems have one of those, you knew that right? Somewhere that callers go, never to be heard from again!) As a business, putting your callers On-hold to silence is one of the worst things you can do to hurt your Caller Experience. It’s like asking people to stand in line with a blindfold on. They’re just not going to stick around! But give them something relevant and interesting to listen to while they’re On-Hold, and the wait time will seem very much diminished!

It’s all about me

If you do have an On-Hold message…congratulations on “getting it”. Now what does it say? You see, callers want to hear about themselves. They want to hear how your service or products are going to make their lives better…how they are going to impact them. They don’t want to hear a message that is all about you. All about how long you’ve been in business. How great you or your products are. This comes across the phone lines as “blah, blah, blah”. But tell a story, make the caller the star, and you’ll experience a much happier customer when you pick up the phone!

Changing the message

One of the keys to having a great caller experience, is to keep the message current and up to date. So how do you do that? How do you know when to change it, how often to change it, and what to change? That depends on a number of factors. What is the profile of your caller? In other words, do they call in regularly, once a week or month or year? Or do they interact with you heavily for a week, then not at all for a couple of months? How long are they On-Hold? What are the top 3 or 4 things callers are asking about when they call in? Is there information that would really be helpful for them to hear? These are some of the questions that we discuss with you to help walk through the process of creating a complete On-Hold program.

It’s not just as simple as slapping a message on your phones, and checking that off the to-do list. If you really want a powerful Caller Experience, it takes understanding your business, understanding your caller, and understanding how people think. If you’d like help with that, we’d be glad to setup a time to talk. It won’t cost you anything.

Monday Morning quarterbacking…for your business

So, what do you think? Of the ads I mean! Frankly, as I go back and watch the Super Bowl Ads this morning, there’s not one that really jumps out at me as being terrificly “super” (pun intended!)

Don’t get me wrong, there were some good ads. But I’m not really here to start a discussion about which ads were the best, and which were the worst.

If you’re like a lot of small business owners, you watch those ads with some envy…and grimace at the $2.5 – $2.8 Million dollars that 30 seconds of fame would cost you. (Not including production and actor’s pay, of course!) What can a small business on Main Street, Anytown USA do to compete?

How about radically overdeliverSeth Godin had an interesting blog postyesterday about using the service your deliver as an inexpensive marketing tool. It turns out that focusing on doing a great job with the small things…each and every customer interaction…is a cheap and effective marketing technique! And who knew…you have the tools you need to be successful right inside the four walls of your business!

Consumers are expecting more and more, making it an ever-growing challenge to “over-deliver”. So have you thought about your customers’ Caller Experience lately? You might want to evaluate what your callers hear whenever they call your company. What do they hear when they are placed On-Hold? A static-y radio…silence?

Are you doing the “least you could do” or are you over-delivering on their expectations?

It doesn’t take $2.5 million dollars and a celebrity endorsement to over-deliver to your customers. But be careful…you just might change the world!

Prosound’s new home online

Wow, we made it! A few of you have been privy to the fact that we’ve been working hard since early November to create a brand new website for Prosound. And it’s finally launched! You’ll find our new home at We’re really proud of it!

With the tremendous experience and guidance of Paul Boomer (aka “Boomer”) and Dave Young, (two of the partners at Wizard of Ads, Inc., a research and consulting organization based on Austin, Texas), we were able to do an extensive amount of research into why customers and potential clients come to our site, what information they are looking for, and how to best present that to them.

We also were able to integrate our blog platform with our website, so both now share a consistent look and feel.

Beyond just the design and the scripting, a website is only as valuable as it’s analytics, and Dave and Boomer are experts at testing, tweaking, testing, tweaking, and fully optimizing the site, based on how visitors are actually browsing!

I’m sure that some of you have been putting off creating (or re-creating) your website for far longer than you should have! If you’re ready to invest the time and effort to make your website work for you, I highly recommend contacting Dave or Boomer.

I’m personally very excited about our Caller Experience Evaluation service that shows you what changes to your phone experience will optimize your customer service.

We’ve also implemented a new Support ticket system to enhance the way we receive and respond to any support request you have.

Enjoy the new site, and if you’re a current client, we’d love a testimonial from you!

If you’d like to find Dave or Boomer, feel free to contact them.

Dave is at:

Paul is at:

  • twitter: @paulboomer
  • (573) 268-4109

Thanks, and I’ll look forward to seeing you online!

Ghost voices on the phone?

I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling as a business owner…too much to do, and not enough time in the day to get it all done!

Such was the case with one of our clients recently. Their phones were answered by an auto-attendant, but the receptionist that recorded the main greeting had left the company…over a year prior!

Prosound was called in to evaluate the Auto-attendant message, and provide a more professional Caller Experience.

After evaluating the current message wording, voice, and options, we presented a number of wording and structure suggestions, as well as a voice style that fit the image of the company more closely.

For this scenario, we worked closely with the phone system provider to program the suggested changes as we loaded the new messaging.

The new Auto-Attendant message not only features a professional, clear voice, but is underlaid with music, providing a pleasing sound and flow to the message.

Planning, coordination, and implementation took less than a week, and we handled the bulk of the work ourselves. Freeing the business owner to focus on delivering great service!

Do you already know that your Caller Experience needs improving, but you just haven’t had the time to figure out how? Would a turn-key approach help your task load?

Transforming the Caller Experience…now that doesn’t sound scary!

Engage your caller.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference for your Caller Experience. I’m talking about the order in which you present the options in your Auto-Attendant.

Recently we were asked to do a Caller Experience Evaluation for a client who told us that most of their callers to this phone number would be potential clients, as existing clients were given direct access phone numbers. When we evaluated their greeting, we found that the first two options given were:

  • “If you have an active user account, please press 1”, and
  • “If you are calling to re-activate your account, please press 2”

Both of these options were only of interest to EXISTING clients, not potential new clients. If a prospective client was calling in, they had to wait until Option 3 (“To learn more about our service…”) or Option 4 (“If you’re ready to purchase…). While some may hang on the phone long enough to get to those, the client was missing out on engaging those prospects right up front.

Be sure your phone system is speaking to the caller, in the language the caller speaks…and is giving them the options they are looking for right up front. Prospective customers are sometimes skittish…don’t give them any reason to hang up the phone!