On-hold messages are one of the best ways to get your marketing messages to your current and potential clients.
Instead of allowing your callers to sit on hold in silence, why not use this time to inform and educate them about your products and services.
Consider an on hold message as an infomercial about your business and as a reliable method to keep your callers on the line.
We all know opportunity knocks but it can also ring.
In business, every time your phone rings it's an opportunity to welcome and engage your clients in a meaningful way.
After all, your telephone is very much the front line of your business.
But what happens when you are experiencing higher than normal call volumes?
Now I know what you are thinking, people dread being put on hold.
Well, you are right but in business it's often necessary and how you manage the situation can make a world of difference to your customer service and your bottom line.
Oren Harari of the Tom Peters group states that 8 to 15 percent of a company's customer base is lost each year and that 68% of that is because of indifference or negative phone treatment.
So what is the solution?
Studies have shown that with an on hold message service the average hold time increases to three and a half minutes.
This provides waiting customers with vital information.
Entertainment and music have a positive effect on their mental attitude, making them more receptive and relaxed when you return to the line.
According to BIA/Kelsey estimates, there will be about 162 billion consumer-to-business phone calls from mobile phones in 2020.
What is more startling is that 20% of these calls from smartphones are dropped according to Marchex.
There are many reasons for dropped calls but according to statistics 34% of those callers who hang up while on hold will never call back.
Fortunately, there are ways you can retain these callers.
In a survey conducted by Jefferson Dennealen Marketing, callers were presented with messages (promotional or otherwise) on hold versus silence or a radio commercial.
They found that the callers stayed on hold longer, were more likely to be interested in the product advertised, were more likely to retain information, and were less annoyed at the wait time.
So with professional and creative on hold messages, your business will retain customers holding on the line and generate revenue by marketing other related products and services.
So how should the on-hold messages be structured?
Here are 3 key areas to include on your on-hold message.
Tell your callers about any new services or products you have introduced.
You can also let them know of any improvements that have been made to existing services or products.
Use this opportunity to cross-sell other related products and services by calling their attention to other related business areas.
Point them to your catalog or website to show the full range available.
Impress on your callers the flexible solutions your services provide and the benefits of using your products.
This is an area that can really help your customer services department.
Consider using the on-hold message to answer some frequently asked questions, while also informing callers of the opening and closing times of your business.
Inform them ahead of any changes in your business hours, especially during holiday periods.
Give your callers the full business address and directions to your business premises.
These standard queries can make your customer service more efficient as it will help to save time and resources.
The third area involves image and brand building.
Use this opportunity to tell your callers about the achievements of your company.
Mention any endorsements or awards your company has recently received.
It is a great time to blow your own trumpet - don't be shy to come forward.
Ensure your clients know what they are becoming a part of when they purchase from your company.
This information can really help build credibility and trust.
The voice you use for your marketing message is as important as the message itself.
So it is important to use a professional voice artist to prove your company's commitment to professional standards.
As you are getting started, don't think about the hardware, production, and scripts.
It is important to keep it simple and consider the benefits on hold messaging will bring to your company.
Brainstorm on ways you can use these messages to promote your business.
Having a list of the things you want to promote will help make the whole process easier and keep you motivated to follow through.
Once you have the goals and benefits in front of you, it will be very easy to complete the remaining tasks.
You might think this is common knowledge but...
...it would surprise you to see the number of businesses that wait until the last minute to update their on hold messaging program...
...and end up putting something together in a rush.
You can get involved in the process of writing a script as little or as much as you want.
But it is important to provide a basic direction, reference materials, and several bullet points for your copywriter.
A good script should offer your callers peace of mind and true love.
If you have watched a low budget commercial, you would know the value of using professional on-air talent.
The voice you use for your on hold message reflects your company's image and your image determines your brand's value.
Even if the right message if not communicated the right way, you could lose out on the potential client.
If you are updating your on hold messaging program regularly, you will need a voice that best fits each message.
Different messages require different deliveries.
Inflection, tone, and even accent matter.
It is not every business person or former radio DJ that fits the bill.
Creative on hold marketing message involves using character voices to engage and entertain callers.
Using a seasoned voice talent is very important in these recordings.
You may be an expert who knows your industry very well, but it does not mean your callers also do.
The general rule here is to avoid speaking beyond a lay audience general understanding unless you can provide a convincing definition.
Replacing complex industry jargon with simple explanations and words will help to keep the on hold message effective.
As well as improve overall connection and communication with your callers.
There are some on hold messages that will prompt callers to ask to be put back on hold.
It is called the holy grail of on hold messaging programs.
9 out of 10 programs that have achieved this have a bit of humor.
This is a no brainer if you run a company with some personality.
Some might contest their business is too boring or too serious to use humor.
Of course, there are certain occasions joking should be avoided but the general rule here is that the only time to avoid using humor is when it is not funny.
The Financial Brand recommends adding comedy routines into on hold messages as the number one fun marketing idea for credit unions and banks.
So anyone can be funny if banks are.
Silence is not golden when it comes to on hold messaging.
Not only is dead air on the other end of the line a waste of an opportunity, but it can leave your callers frustrated and questioning whether you are still on the line.
You would never want to put your caller on hold in an ideal world but since that is mostly not a reasonable expectation for those in charge of receiving calls, the hold button is necessary.
Callers on hold offer businesses a captive audience for a short time.
Even 30 seconds can be very valuable.
For a 30 seconds Super Bowl commercial, many advertisers will pay millions of dollars.
So it is important to take advantage of your time and don't leave your callers hanging.
Make sure you say something relevant.
You can start with easy messages such as your hours, your products and services, and your locations.
The first rule of on hold message is not to talk about being on hold.
Saying something like "Your call is very important to us. Please hold while our operators assist other customers", sometimes has a negative effect on your callers.
This is because messages like this remind your callers they are being forced to wait while you are assisting more important callers.
If your on hold messaging uses this phrase repeatedly you will most likely exhaust any patience the caller may have had.
One other important thing about this topic is never apologize to your callers for putting them on hold.
You may think of this as a common courtesy but your callers are not looking for an apology.
They are looking for an operator to talk to them.
It is perfectly acceptable to thank a caller for the call but apologizing for placing them on hold reminds them they are stuck in limbo.
Your goal here is to engage them with on hold messages so they can forget you have put them on hold at all.
Hold time is a great time to offer your callers other related or additional products and services. Hotels can use this opportunity to talk about their premium suites.
A car rental company can present information about navigation systems, children's car seats, insurance, or larger vehicles.
A plumbing company can use this opportunity to introduce its new tankless water heaters.
Your company likely offers various products and services.
Hold time present a great opportunity to cross-sell lesser known items if your callers are just purchasing one of your offerings.
Potential clients calling to schedule a visit may otherwise not discover this feature.
For a pack and ship store, you can introduce print services to those callers tracking their packages.
This could help to boost a whole new business segment.
Highlight the recent awards your company has been presented.
Do you give back to your community in a way that brings meaning to your company?
Maybe you donate to kids through the "Make a Wish Foundation" or you sponsor a local sporting event.
On hold messages are the perfect vehicle to deliver this information to your current and potential clients.
Every business thrives more with web traffic. After all, what is the use of a slick website if no one is visiting it?
You may only have 20 to 30 seconds of hold time to market to your callers.
Introducing them to your website during this brief period will allow them to discover everything they need to know about your company at their convenience.
Driving callers to your website with on hold messages will ultimately lead to an increase in online orders, blog views, app download...
...or whatever your business seeks to achieve with the traffic.
For additional engagement, you can also send them to your social media channels.
Having a low-cost marketing initiative that hits 100% of its targeted audience 100% of the time just makes sense.
If your on hold messaging program hasn't been updated in a long time, now is a great time to refresh the content.
Call us today and start taking advantage of every opportunity.
Updated June 2.
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Customers don't like being put on hold. That's why your on-hold messages are so important. Here's a quick guide of things to include in your on-hold messages.