Customers dislike being placed on hold.
Imagine that you are one of your busy customers. It’s been a long day. You have been in and out of long meetings, handling emails that are swarming your inbox, and putting out fire after fire while you work through your lunch. There is one more telephone call you need to make. After dialing and you hear two rings followed by a representative saying, “Thank you for calling, please hold.”
Sound familiar? According to Woman’s World Magazine, the average person spends approximately 1.2 years on hold.
A customer’s impression of your company is formed during your busy moments; while they are asked to hold as well as the times when you can offer them your undivided attention. So how do you make this impression a positive one?
Two major ways come to mind. The first is teaching your staff about Customer Hold Etiquette. The second is making their on hold experience an extension of how you would want to treat them had they been waiting in your lobby rather than on the telephone.
So let’s touch on Customer Hold Etiquette. Ultimately, this is about common courtesy and the golden rule. For example, never put someone on hold without first asking their permission and letting them know why. This goes a long way in a customer’s impression of your staff. Which sounds better? “Hold please” or “Mr. Smith, I need a moment to look up your records. Would you mind holding while I do that please?” I guarantee that your customers would pick the second option.
Something to think about: Approximately 8 to 15% of a company’s customer base is lost each year. Of this, 68% is due to indifferent or negative phone treatment. – Oren Harari of The Tom Peters Group
If you need to keep a customer on hold for more than a minute at a time, come back to check on them. During this checking back period make sure to apologize for the wait, and offer them an option to get out of holding. Remember their time is as valuable to them as yours is to you. “Mr. Smith, I’m sorry to keep you waiting. I am having a bit if difficulty locating your records. It may be a few more minutes. Would you be ok holding or would you prefer a call back?” If they choose to hold, continue to check back with them frequently asking the same question if you need to return them to holding.
The final step to proper Customer Hold Etiquette is returning to the call and thanking them for holding. “Mr. Smith, thank you for holding. I was able to locate your records…”
You’ve trained your staff on the importance of Customer Hold Etiquette, now you need to take a look at the customer’s hold experience outside the control of your employees.Technology can help you to simulate the same level of service that they would be receiving had they been waiting in your lobby rather than on their telephone. Tie National, LLC (www.TieNational.com) offers everything you could need to design a cost effective technology solution to help you with satisfying your customers.
USING TECHNOLOGY –
>> CALL QUEUEING
In the beginning example the caller was immediately placed on hold. Rather than picking up a call only to put them immediately on hold because your employees are assisting other customers on site, consider call queueing. Call queueing will play music and/or a message for callers while they wait in “line” for someone to answer the call. This allows you to provide great customer service to one customer at a time during your peak times. This also reduces abandoned calls, eliminates the need for excess staff to handle fluctuating peak call volumes, and the need for additional telephone lines.
>> BACKGROUND MUSIC AND MESSAGE ON HOLD
Just like in your location, soothing music relaxes the waiting customer on the telephone as well. Providing on hold the same music they would hear at your location provides consistency and instantly transports them to your lobby rather than feeling like they are in their own home or business waiting on hold. Consider also an AT&T survey mentioning that customers left on-hold without any background music felt that a 30-second on-hold call actually lasted 90 seconds. Furthermore, customers thought a 30-second on-hold call that used music-on-hold lasted only 15 seconds.
Message on Hold offers a voice during that lonely hold time. At regular intervals callers can hear a voice over discuss new promotions or where to find new information on your website. According to Sales & Marketing Management, 88% of callers actually want to hear product information on hold and 20% admitted to purchasing additional products based on promotions heard while on hold.
Customers of Tie National, LLC (www.TieNational.com), also known as TIE have identified Background Music and Message on Hold to be a significant benefit to them as owners, as well as to their clients. Because of this, TIE’s Sound Suite was developed offering these as a bundled service that can easily be managed together through an online portal with custom scripting and lengthy playlists to keep customers engaged. For more information visit the website.
Customer satisfaction can be achieved through basic customer service tactics and theories applied both using your staff as well as taking advantage of all that technology has to offer. Survey your own customers to find out what they want from you to enhance their hold experience. Let us know if they have more suggestions!