Archive for August, 2010

Why waiting On-Hold feels so long!

Passing TimeAdam Alter writes an interesting article about the quirks in time perception that we all share. Why does the first hour of a long flight seem SOOO long, while the last several hours all cram together in your mind.

I’ll be you’ve had a similar experience in micro…the last time you called a company and were put On-Hold.  With so many things that need to be done in our busy lives, no one wants to wait, and who could blame us?

Have you been in Best Buy and had to wait in line to checkout? What do you do while you wait? You probably skim the end caps, but I’ll bet you spend most of the wait watching the Best Buy TV program on one of the many screens they have positioned in site. Why do they put those there?
Because when your mind is engaged, it doesn’t think about the amount of time you’ve been waiting. It feels like only a few seconds, when really they’ve been able to play four 1 minute promos for you!

Now back to the On-Hold. If your business is putting people On-Hold, and just having them listen to silence, you’re actually extending the perceived wait time.  How would you like it if Best Buy required you to put on a blindfold while you stood in line? Every second would feel like an hour until you could take that blindfold off!

But if you choose to engage your caller during those inevitable times they have to wait On-Hold, the amount of time they perceive they are waiting will be quite a bit less. Custom On-Hold messaging that is engaging and relevant is just like hanging those screens near the checkout line of Best Buy.

From Adam’s article:

There’s still plenty we don’t understand about how humans perceive time, but one fact is clear: we don’t perceive time the way clocks portray time, one second at a time, with each second passing just as quickly as its earlier and later counterparts.

Sure, nobody likes to wait, but what kind of experience is your company providing for those customers who call in? Is your caller experience a good one? Are you speeding up their clock, or slowing it down?

“…I want to know right now how long you expect me to wait…”

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!

On-Hold news worth hearing

It helps you wake up in the morning.

You watch it while you’re eating breakfast.

It’s on your car radio at the top of every hour (and the bottom of some!)

News. It’s all around us…and we all love it. We like it because we want to be “in the know”. We want to have the latest information…the current story.

We all like to be the one at the party that has all the details to tell everyone else. Oh, not in a self important, smug way, but just a subtle “I’m with it” kind of way.

That’s why we’re really excited to be bringing News, Sports, and Entertainment to your On-Hold message!

Starting in September 2010, you’ll be able to choose our Daily News package add-on, which includes news, sports, and entertainment…(always filtered for positive, upbeat news, of course!), updated daily. It integrates with your current On-Hold message, so you still continue to spread the word about your company, while also providing a fresh alternative to boring On-Hold time.

I’ve attached some recent clips of what each of those insertions would sound like:

NEWS On-Hold



For one dollar per day, you get fresh, daily content integrated with your own custom messaging.

Imagine sounding relevant to your caller!

Just give us a call, and we’ll add News, Sports, and Entertainment to your On-Hold message!