Are You Making Your Customers Wait In “On Hold Limbo”?

Thousands of businesses all over the UK are irritating and alienating their customers and prospects with truly awful or non existent hold music…

How many times have you called a company where it’s taken ages to battle your way through a confusing and lengthy menu THEN been rudely ‘greeted’ by a member of staff only to be told you must have pressed the wrong option as you’re through to the wrong department?To re-direct you, you get placed on hold only to end up in an abyss of silence or sinister sounding classical music, jarring on your ears. At this point you think you have possibly been hung up on and are unsure if anyone is EVER going to answer.

That’s what we call “on hold limbo”, and quite simply: life is too short to spend in on hold limbo.

There is a better way – let us show you how by dissecting where the above scenario could be improved though simple yet effective telephone messages and on hold Marketing, and even throw in some stats to prove it works.

On Hold Marketing is where you can really create an impression on your customers, before they’ve even spoken to you. If you’ve not phoned yourself in a while then it might be time to do so and consider how you could improve your customer’s journey.

78% of callers don’t have their call answered the first time they ring a company.

Step 1: The Confusing Menu – Does your menu make sense?

If you’re in business, there’s a good chance you spend a proportion of your time on the phone, you know how important productivity is for results and you understand efficiency when completing a task.

Consequently, being pfesented with an auto attendant menu is actually designed to save you time by direct your call in the best way possible, to the team who can deal with your query most effectively.

However, we’ll all admit to not really listening to the excessive amount of options we’re presented with.

Or we’ll listen for the first branch of the menu only to become disinterested by the 4th menu option, wondering when we’ll ever get through to a human being.

As a business, you don’t want your customers to experience any delays in speaking to a real human being, so you should be looking at ways to prevent any confusion or frustration that could be caused before the call is connected.

Keep your Auto Attendant options simple, don’t over complicate this menu and use short phrases that adequately describe what the option is for.

Simplicity will keep the attention of your caller, meaning they make the right choice and are put through to the right person. Look at the wording of the two options below, they discuss the same topics but one is certainly easier to follow:

“For billing, payment and accounts queries, press 1”

“To request a copy of your latest bill, make a payment over the phone or speak to us about a query on your account then press 1” 

91% of us Brits revealed that we’d had a poor experience over the phone.

Step 2: Shout it from the rooftops – On Hold Marketing

On-hold marketing fills the silence or replaces the annoying beeps when you transfer a customer and helps promote your products, services to customers who already know, like and trust you.

Plus, because they’re on the phone you have the caller’s undivided attention, so what better way to get your message across?

On-hold messages should be clear, concise and current, put yourself in your customers shoes – what would they like to listen to? What would they find interesting and useful?

You could talk about your products, services, awards you’ve won, where to find you on social media, how to order, your opening hours and so much more – really, anything that’s thought-provoking for callers.

It’s not very often we get to throw modesty out the window and declare how wonderful our company is but on-hold marketing is one place where you can do it.

Up to 20% of callers make buying decisions whilst on hold.

Step 3: It’s not all about being on hold – what happens when the caller is connected?

You can have the most wonderful on hold process, with clear and easy to navigate menus, entertaining marketing messages and a quick call answer time and yet it can still go downhill from there. Second impressions count too!

Naturally, humans prefer to speak to humans than robots (well most of us anyway…) so it’s important to look at how a call is handled once it’s been answered. We’re not here to point the finger but simply highlight that the better trained and skilled your staff, the happier your customers will be, even if they have been on hold a little longer than they should.

The best way to monitor this is via call stats from your telephone system – this will enable you to ensure you’re delivering as great a service once a call is answered as you are when it’s on hold. A recent survey found staff failed to answer callers’ questions 50% of the time.

If you find people are repeatedly having to call back as something hasn’t been resolved or that your staff are spending their time reiterating info that is on your website then something needs to change. Get that training topped up and those on hold marketing messages answering your FAQs to stop customers with more pressing queries from having to sit on hold.

It’s easy to detach from this, but your on-hold marketing and your call agents go hand in hand. Look at your team’s abilities, are they receiving enough support and training to help your callers?

One in eight people admit to searching for a competitor whilst speaking with a company on the phone.

What’s “what” when it comes to audio branding?

A lot of people who get in touch with us know what they want but don’t know the terminology, so it’s time to do some jargon busting and explain what each type of message is used for and why.

IVR – interactive voice response

IVR Menus are used by large companies to direct calls to the correct department.

Benefiting both callers and agents, IVRs are the menu you’re presented with when you call a company.

They should be simple and present clear options which then directs a call to the most suitable agent/department for the option selected.

You can use your menus to direct callers efficiently, reducing holding times and the chance that someone needs to be transferred once connected.

You can have one IVR branch or several, depending on your call flow but IVR systems tend to suit call centres. Just voice is used for IVR as music in the background can distract callers who are listening for options.

On Hold Marketing

Messages which play whilst your customer is on hold, highlighting your main services, answering FAQs, pushing alternative contact methods and used for keeping callers entertained, updated and informed.

They combine both music and voice messages, the combination is proven to keep callers entertained which means they will stay on the line significantly longer than when listening to silence or music alone. The use of marketing messages reinforces your brand and creates a great first impression to your callers.

Auto Attendant or Welcome Message

Similar to an IVR in that there is often a menu, however Auto Attendant messages tend to be used by smaller companies. The auto attendant kicks in when a customer calls, so instead of hearing ringing they’re presented with a welcome message and options to direct their call. The aim is to welcome your caller, they immediately know they’ve called the right company and you’ve instantly connected with them.

Out of Hours

Exactly what it says on the tin. If your customers call out of hours do they hear a generic voicemail message? Can they leave a voicemail at all?

Out of hours messages are used to inform your customer when you’re open, provide callers with contact details, useful information such as other ways to get in touch and also encourage them to leave a message, meaning you don’t miss out on business just because you’re closed.

Remember to keep your messages up to date. If I’m calling a business, late in the day and their out of hours message kicks in telling me they’re open until 5PM, but I’m calling at 4.30PM, I’m going to be frustrated. If your office hours change then your out of hours message needs to change too.

Busy Message or Voicemail Message

There might be the odd occasion when every member of staff is on a call and unable to answer a new incoming call, this is where a professionally recorded busy message AKA voicemail message can help. Simply by promoting the caller to leave a message and promising to get back to them the same day you can save your customer time but calling them back.

The Dos and Don’ts

Hopefully it’s now a lot clearer what on hold marketing and audio branding is and also what it’s used for. Now that’s all covered, what do you need to bear in mind?

Don’t be modest – we’re not saying be pompous or boastful either but a little bit of confidence in what you do and the customer service you provide goes a long way in on hold marketing, reassuring your caller and highlighting services they may not have been aware you provided.

Don’t say ‘Your call is important to us’ – of course it is! This can sometimes be a little slap in the face for the person who’s been waiting for their call to be answered, we prefer ‘we’ll be right with you’.

Don’t over do it – the best length for an on hold message is around 60 words, remember the difference between spoken word and written when thinking of your on hold marketing scripts. This all helps with the flow!

Do think about your USP – I recently spoke with someone who, when asked why their customers would choose them over a competitor, said that there was no reason why. What makes you stand out? What do you do differently?

Do keep it simple – Each on hold marketing message should cover one topic, usually focusing on each of the main services you offer. Others include your accreditations, FAQs, your various branches and highlighting your social media accounts. This way you’re not bombarding a caller with unrelated information in the same message.

Do understand what on-hold marketing is for – Surprisingly, a lot of people know they should have it but don’t really know why.  The messages and music are the first impression you are giving to a caller about your business, and as human beings we’re incredibly quick to judge. They market your services all whilst keeping waiting customers entertained, increasing the likelihood that they’ll stay on the line.

So, you’ve heard it straight from the experts and if you think you would like to update your on hold music, auto attendants or voicemail messages then it is definitely worth speaking to Boosh 365.

Sara Rose

Sara Rose

Sara is a long-standing member of the Boosh 365 Senior Team and is widely considered the beating heart of the business. As Operations Manager Sara is responsible for making sure every process is followed and every idea is implemented (the good ones, at least!)
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