Archive for April, 2010

Is your phone system confusing your callers?

As I approached the elevators to head to my 14th floor room of the hotel I was staying in recently, I was met with this elevator selector. Someone on the design team of Otis felt 100% positive that this was designed clearly. So that I would have no trouble at all choosing whether I wanted to go up or down.

You may think so as well. But look closely…

If you wanted to go Up, do you push the button that the Up arrow is pointing to? Or the button beside the Up arrow?

It kinda looks a little circular to me, and that could get frustrating!

And here’s what that has to do with phone systems.

Too often, the Auto-Attendant is setup on the fly by whoever is installing the phone system. Sure, they’ve tried to get the business owner or manager to tell them what options to program, and what to say, but the truth is, the business owner is thinking “Phone System” at that point, not “Caller Experience“. See, those are two different parts of the brain!

How many times have you called a phone system that sounds like this: “Thank you for calling XYZ Corp, where we really value your business! If you know your party’s 4 digit extension, you may enter it at anytime. Please press 1 for Sales, Please press 2 for Service, Please press 3 for Parts, Please press 4 for accounting, Please press 5 for Human Resources, or press 0 to reach an operator. Press 9 to repeat this message.”

That’s even hard to write, must less listen to over the phone! And here’s why.

When you give the number before the option, I have to hold that number in my head while I listen to the option, and analyze whether that’s the option I need or not. After listening above, I’ve got a total of  7 options in my head, and they are all jumbled together. Because I’m not calling to push a number…I’m calling to go to a department.

If you list the department first, followed by the option (“to reach sales, press 1”) the department name “clicks” with what I’m looking for in my head, making it a very easy choice to press 1. If I don’t need the Sales department, I can simply forget about that option all together, and move on to the next one.

There’s a time to answer the phones with a live person. And there’s a time to use an Auto-attendant. (do you know which one to use when?)
When you decide to use an Auto-Attendant, make sure the options are clear, and easy for your caller to understand. Not confusing like our elevator. If you confuse them, they won’t know which way is up! (and they’ll go for the last option they hear…pressing “0”!)

So what does your Auto-Attendant sound like from the Caller’s perspective? You might want to use our Caller Experience Evaluation to find out!

Moving the needle on the “Who Cares” meter

<div xmlns:cc="" about=""><a rel="cc:attributionURL" href=You’ve just called the Wagon Yard, a furnishings and collectibles store in Texas. You’re calling about the 54″ cherry roll-top computer desk you heard they carried. That would look great in your office! And while they transfer you to the Furniture department, you hear this:

Wagon Yard On-Hold

NOW you’re interested in more than just a roll-top desk! And why is that?

Because a compelling, relevant On-Hold message moves the “Who Cares” meter!

I’m sure you’ve heard or seen the opposite in an ad…maybe even today. “We’ve been in business since …” Really?

Who cares?

Now, you’re probably saying “But Chester, I don’t want to do business with a fresh, young, inexperienced company!” Really? Like Google? Facebook? Twitter? These are all companies that developed huge (did I say huge?) customer bases, and they weren’t built around how long they had been in business.

Let’s break this down a little more. When a company leads with how long they’ve been in business, what are they really trying to say?

  • Their experience makes them the expert
  • You will be able to count on warranty support
  • You won’t be left “holding the bag” if something goes wrong
  • (I’m sure we could come up with a lot more things here)

Any one of those would be more compelling…more interesting to you and me as customers, than “We’ve been in business since…”

Why is that? It’s because of the difference between facts and emotion.

Facts say you’ve been in business for 50 years.

Emotions tell me that I want to buy from someone who is an expert.

Answers like “family-owned,” “superior service” and “exceptional value” don’t generate terribly helpful uncovery information. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice information. But it’s not the bottom-line food-truth about your business that is going to get your visitors salivating for what you have to offer.*

Draw me into the world of emotions, and I am more likely to find interest in your product or service. And the best way to engage the emotional side of the brain is to tell a story.

Tell me a story…make me a star

Tell your customer a story, with them as the star, and you will instantly engage their emotional power. (take a moment to go back and read the first paragraph again. Did you notice it was about you?)

When we tell stories, we engage the emotion rather then the intellect. Emotion and intellect are not connected! Intellectual ads are about inarguable facts. It’s about “New!”, (when it really IS new!)

But emotional ads are about what the customer already knows or feels. They connect with what we already believe to be real, while adding a new perspective.

We do what feels right, then use our intellectual logic to justify our emotional decision.

So the next time you’re thinking about what callers hear while On-Hold, take out the intellect, and put in the emotion. It will make a powerful difference!

Not sure what callers are hearing when they call your company? Our Secret Caller service may be just the thing you need.

*Quote from Brian Eisenberg of

How a month of adventures helps Prosound deliver better On-Hold messaging

One month ago today, I was in San Diego, California at the international On-Hold Messaging Association’s 10th Annual Conference.

If you are evaluating an On-Hold messaging company to provide messaging for your business, make sure you ask if they are an OHMA member before you commit to working with them. Members are required to meet higher standards in order to maintain their membership. And that means a higher standard of service for you.

On Hold Messaging must be the member’s primary business function.
Members must have a proven track record of On Hold Messaging excellence.
Members must be a comprehensive, full-service provider.
Members must provide flexible payment options.
Member is held accountable to OHMA standards.
OHMA will provide arbitration in the unlikely event of a dispute.

Did you know that Hold time (the time callers are On-Hold for your company) is just as important as Broadcast time? Hold time is real, and it’s captive. You should be using this Hold time to deliver compelling, relevant content, tailored to who your caller is.

I flew home from the OHMA conference in San Diego, and turned around to drive to Austin, Texas to go to Sunpop Studios, where the team at Sunpop did an incredible job helping deliver our unique message through the medium of video.


Sunpop’s method of creating a video is so completely different from anything else out there! The secret is in the pre-production, and the process. You see, the video shoot is completely unscripted. You’re in front of a camera, but rather then having to come up with what you want to say, and try to get all the lines right, you simply have a conversation with Sunpop’s “conversationalist”. This person knows just enough about your or your company to ask questions, but they don’t have the answers. They are asking real questions, and you are giving real responses! The result is a video that really connects with viewers in an authentic, direct way. It’s like pulling back the curtain, and giving visitors a little glimpse of who you really are.
And these guys at Sunpop Studios really make it terrifically fun process!

From Sunpop, it was on to the Wizard Academy, A (very!) Nontraditional Business School. It’s all about discovering the science behind every art. If you ever have a chance to go, you will NOT be disappointed!

I was there for Jon Spoelstra’s class “How to Make Big Things Happen Fast”. An absolutely PACKED two days of mind-bending proportions! Did you know that as President of the (last place in the NBA) New Jersey Nets, Jon Spoelstra took there ticket revenue from $5,000,000 to $17,000,000, sponsorships from $400,000 to $7,000,000, and the team value from $40,000,000 to $120,000,000? This is a guy who knows how to market outrageously! (if you want to know more, check out

Jon talks about three points to being successful:
1. “New is a way of life”
2. “What’s it gonna take?”
3. “Push the ‘Outrageous’ envelope”

Most people want to protect at least two things, which sends them into paralysis. You see, you have to decide what is Number 1. The thing that everything else will be sacrificed for. Then you can determine what it will take to get to that goal. Everything else is secondary to that Number 1 thing…whatever it is.

Wow…what a whirlwind month!

And now, back in the office, I contemplate for you…what is it that you will do Outrageously? What will you do to surprise people? You have to surprise people constantly with things that are new, surprising and interesting.

Are you ready to launch? Let us help you find YOUR surprise!

“A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man, and learns from him, how not to make that mistake to begin with!” Roy H. Williams.