On-Hold…more annoying than spam and dog poop – Consumer Reports

Illustration by Jason Ford

In a study released in January 2010, Consumer Reports revealed that waiting to talk to a live human when calling a company ranked as the second most annoying thing that you and I deal with daily. (the first? Hidden fees).

There’s no doubt why. We’re all busy. We want to accomplish our goals while taking the least amount of time possible. And waiting while listening to silence is more annoying than being stuck in a traffic jam! (only #14 on the list)

In fact, respondents said they would rather scoop dog poop than wait On-Hold! (Don’t believe me? Check out the results at Consumer Reports)

As a business, what can you do about this? There’s always the first thing that comes to mind…”Hire more people!”

That’s what most people suggest. And mostly that suggestion probably comes from someone who has never owned their own business. There can never be a one-t0-one ratio of employees to customers. It simply is not feasible.

But most helpful folk don’t stop to consider that. They just want you to handle their issue right now.

One approach we’re encouraging businesses in is to take that On-Hold time seriously. As serious as a customer walking in your front door. What are the things you do to make your customer’s first impression a great one? Do you hire an interior decorator? Do you keep the customer-visible areas neat and clean? Do you have information for customers to take with them when they walk out the door?

You can do the same thing for customers that call in to your business.

Make a great first impression by having more than silence On-Hold. An On-Hold message will grab your caller’s ear when they first hear it.

You’ve got my ear…now what?

Now you’ve got about 2.86 seconds to keep them listening. Is it going to be interesting? Or is it going to be about how long you’ve been in business?

Are you going to tell the caller a story…and make them the star? Or are you going to keep all the stardom to yourself, and try to make your business the most important thing in the message. (hint: customers like to imagine themselves using your product or service to make their life better. They don’t really care that you’ve been in business since 1942)

If you want an On-Hold message that will turn angry customers into laughing ones, tell callers about products or services they didn’t know you offered, or flat-out sell more product, you better be paying attention to the phone. Listen to these On-Hold samples to get some ideas that could transform your Caller Experience.

Then let’s work on a solution for Tailgaters…that’s the next thing on the list!

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