Archive for July, 2010

Know thine own On-Hold Message

Know before you go”…”Look before you leap”…that’s what they say.Good quotes and all. Handy for telling your friends AFTER they’ve done something that wasn’t too smart. Now they’re suffering the consequences, and you’re coming up with brainy quotes. Helpful of you.

I was in a meeting of store managers recently, and asked “who knows what you’re callers are hearing On-Hold right now? Because right now, a customer or prospect has called your store, and is waiting On-Hold. What are they hearing?”

I was met by silence and blank stares.

Until it was broken by one brave manager: “I have no idea.”

This is so often the case. Top level managers, business owners, and especially employees, have no idea what happens when they push that Hold button. It’s just something they’re supposed to do.
1. Answer call
2. Speak to customer
3. Push Hold button
4. Retrieve call by lifting receiver
5. Speak to customer

Except that if you don’t know what that customer or prospect is hearing while they’re On-Hold, they might not be there for step 5. They may have vanished. Oh, they’re still around. As a person. But they’ve vanished from your business…and you’ve become invisible to them. While your competition has become they’re latest love.

Think about it the next time you push that Hold button. What ideas are you putting in your customer’s head?

If you do use an On-Hold message, to you play it for your employees? If they knew what your caller just heard, right before they picked them back up, could they help reinforce that message? Of course it would!
(Side note: Do you involve employees in your On-Hold updates? You should! They’re on the front lines of your business!)

And do me a favor, will you?
Pick up your cell phone, call your company right now, and ask whoever answers the phone to put you On-Hold.

Does your Caller Experience need some help?

“Know before you go!”

Bringing “local” to your callers

There’s an interesting story last week about how the City of Portland is replacing boring hold music with local bands’ songs.

Sure, no one likes to wait, but since it’s a fact of life, we figured we ought to make your time on hold as interesting and entertaining as we can. (Portland’s Mayor, Sam Adams)

Hmmm, now THERE’S a new idea! Making things interesting and entertaining, during the inevitable times in life that we have to wait. And it’s not the first…similar programs have been previously launched in Seattle and Austin.

So what is your business doing to make things fun and exciting for your callers? Are there local talents you can highlight? What about right in your own company…maybe not for music, but what about for product tips, service ideas, or ways to use your products?

There is no law that says On-Hold time has to be boring! What will YOU do to make your next customer’s Caller Experience a great one?

How to think like a customer

It’s hard to read the label from inside the bottle. “Huh?” you say?

See what you think is your “inside reality”…the customer experience inside your doors, is only what your customer says it is. Nothing more. And thankfully, nothing less.

That means you have the opportunity to surprise and delight your customer with the unexpected service.

Recently I ended up owning two identical 32gb 3G model iPads. At a time when iPads were more scarce than a hippy at a classical music concert. You just couldn’t walk into an Apple store and walk out with an iPad!

Well, when I found out I wouldn’t have to pay a restocking fee to Apple to return one of them, I decided to send one back. It was only AFTER I decided to do that, when I found out that Apple not only would not charge a restocking fee, but they would send me a prepaid return shipping label, and the return wouldn’t cost me a thing. As in free. I was delighted.

And the reason I was delighted (aside from saving the money, or course!) is because it was unexpected. Nowhere does Apple advertise “Free return shipping…you can send it back, and not pay a dime!” It’s just something they do, that makes me like doing business with them.

So what do you do to delight your customers? What are the little…or big…things that you could do to surprise and delight your existing customers. Strengthening the bond with your existing customer base is one of the best ways to increase your revenue.

So why is it that it often goes the other way? You woo a customer in with fantastic ads, and heartfelt promises, then once they’re “in the fold” they are no longer on the “To Be Delighted” list?

So here’s a way to have some fun, and maybe discover some ways to delight more customers.

1. Get out of the office…business…or whatever work environment you are in. That’s right, go ahead.

2. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and contemplate your business category.

  • Are there any preconceived notions or misconceptions that prevent more people from coming to your business, or buying what you sell?
  • What mistakes do some competitors make? That is, how could they create a more fulfilling customer experience?

3. Now, call your business, and ask for directions to your store. Pay attention to the what it sounds like…how the phone is answered…what you hear as a customer.

4. Walk into your business, and buy something. Was it easy? Did you enjoy the experience? What was the environment like?

Sometimes it takes getting out of the familiar to see things through another perspective. And even then it’s hard!

Comment below on ways you can surprise and delight your customer!

If you need some help, give our Caller Experience Evaluation service a try. You might be surprised at the view from outside the bottle!