Archive for the ‘What Caller’s Hear On-Hold’ Category

Is it the wait they hate?

Waiting is an inevitable fact of life. Online, in line, and on the phone, waiting would appear to be despised by all customers. So your goal should be to remove the wait, right?

Not so fast.

New research from Ryan W. Buell and Michael I. Norton at the Harvard Business Review shows that customers who wait actually report a better overall experience when they see progress in their wait.

In one experiment, the majority of people preferred a slower experience when they could see the work being done on their behalf!

Twitter is full of people complaining about being On-Hold with companies:

Sedric_RT: been on hold for 40 mins!!!

priteshpatel9: And on top of that…..on hold for 14 mins and counting.

SimmiSweet: Omg how long are u gonna keep me on hold ??

Tsgjd@lafinguy it can always be worse. They should have a status page somewhere so we no not to bother to call and wait on hold.

harmonyjoyyy: *music stops* Thank you for holding. I know it sounds like someone is about to pick up, but nope. You’re still on hold. *music continues*

So what if you focused on crafting a better caller experience? Not saying you shouldn’t evaluate why people are being put On-Hold. It’s just that there is no way to handle every call all the time, with no transfers, or no wait time.

So rather than aiming for the unrealistic goal of eliminating On-Hold time, implement a two-pronged approach:

1. Evaluate why people are On-Hold, and determine if you can lower that by reviewing your business processes, and empowering your front-line people.

2. Create an experience for those people that DO have to be On-Hold, that informs them of your progress, and shows them some of the work going on behind the scenes.

In the end, you may well have happier customers. And customers that are more likely to recommend your company to their friends!

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!

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

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.

Update your message…update your caller

How often to update the messages your callers hear On-Hold.

One of the most frequent questions I hear is “how often should I change my On-Hold message?” This is usually coming from a business owner who is already juggling more hats than a hat-stand!

Ultimately, the value of your On-Hold message is measured by the value it brings to your callers. Are your messages relevant? Are you talking to your customer in their language, using the words they want to hear?

So when do you update your On-Hold message?

Here are the factors that should go into that decision;

What is the caller profile?

Which means, is one caller calling once a week, for 2 months? Or are they calling once a day for a week? Once per quarter? Once per year?

How many phone calls do you get in a day?

Understanding your caller profile is the first step towards understanding how to craft your message to be relevant to them.

How long will they hear it?

Consider how long your caller will be listening to your message. (This also determines the length and structure of your On-Hold message, but that will have to be for a different post!)
Are they hearing thirty seconds or five minutes?

A caller that hears five minutes of your On-hold message is going to quickly tire of what they hear. You’ll need to change that quite often to make their call experience a good one.

Be Specific

The more specific you can be in your On-Hold message, the more impact it will have on your caller. Usually the more specific you are, the more you will need to keep your message current, in order to remain connected with your caller.

Tie it into other marketing

Your new print ad was just published. You’re crossing your fingers, and hoping your dollars were well spent. And how the phone rings. What your caller hears while their On-Hold can have a huge impact on reinforcing the advertising you do, or sounding disconnected from other marketing efforts.

Do you update your On-Hold message whenever you change your ad or publish a new one? If you don’t, you’re not serving your customers well. Have you ever clicked a link in an email, expecting to be taken to a spefici product page, or to learn more about something, and instead you land on the home page of the company? You’re left searching for the product or information that you want.

The same thing happens to your caller when your On-Hold message isn’t coordinated with your marketing. Don’t make them hunt for information…they may just start hunting with your competition!

Surprise them!

One of the best ways to keep them tuned in to your message is to surprise them with new information.

Recently I was working through an “uncovery” with a new client that provides mailing services, and they mentioned that a lot of their customers weren’t aware that they also provided document storage, archiving, and shredding.

What a terrific opportunity to connect with people that you are already doing business with, to let them show them how you can help solve other pain points in their life!

Common update times

You will find some fairly common update recommendations from On-Hold providers. These include:

·      Daily

·      Monthly

·      Quarterly

·      Semi-Annually

After reviewing your caller profile, your other marketing, specific products or services you want to promote, and you’ve thought about ways to surprise your caller, you’ll have a much better understanding of how often you should have your On-Hold message updated.