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Why information on hold makes sense

Person on hold

Jen Wiss-CarlineToday’s guest blogger Jen Wiss-Carline from marketing agency Angel Digital looks at why recorded information is a better option for callers on hold than silence, beeping or music alone.

When callers ring in but your team is tied up on other calls, what do they hear? For many businesses, the answer will be a ringing tone – but is this really what callers want?

First, a ringing tone or beeping gives your caller the perception that the waiting time was actually longer than the reality.

Playing them your favorite track might help kill the boredom, but if they don’t share the same taste in music as you, you could easily just annoy them. Keep in mind also that often this type of music can sound gritty and distorted over the phone.

This only leaves you with one realistic option – information on hold – of which I am a huge advocate.  If you’re not personally a fan of hearing messages while you’re on hold, consider these compelling stats:

  • Inbound/Outbound report that on average 7 out of 10 business callers will be placed on hold.
  • According to a survey by AT & T, customers who were left on hold without hearing anything thought that they had been waiting for 90 seconds – when in fact they had only been waiting for 30. Those who experienced a 30 second wait with music thought that the hold was only 15 seconds.
  • AT & T also found that 80% of callers who are left on hold with silence will abandon the call within one minute.
  • Voice Response, Inc have found that 34% of callers who hang up will never call back.
  • According to USA Today, Executives spend an average of 15 minutes each day, or 68 hours each year on hold.
  • Electronic Distribution Today report that the average time spent on hold is 38 seconds.
  • Tom Collins and Stan Rapp of Maximarketing have discovered that 88% of callers prefer to hear messages while they are on hold, compared to other options.
  • The Tom Peters Group (Oren Harari) found that, of the 8 to 15 per cent of a company’s customer base that is lost each year, a staggering 68% is down to negative or indifferent phone treatment.
  • Sales & Marketing Management reports that 20% of callers have purchased additional products because of information that they heard on hold.
  • The Inbound Telephone Call Centre say that on average, while 94% of marketing budgets are spent on persuading customers to call, just 6% will be spent on handling the call once it has been received.
  • According to research firm Jefferson Denneandrus, when callers are presented with messages on hold, compared with silence, they will stay on hold longer, and are more likely to show an interest in the product or service advertised. They are also more likely to retain information, and feel less agitated.
  • Infomax, Inc also confirms that callers are likely to stay on the line by up to 25% longer when given on hold messages, vs silence or background music.

These are certainly impressive figures and build a strong case for playing messages to your customers while they are on hold. Of course, you can also add a background track to your message, making it more interesting – but keep it neutral, not everyone shares the same taste as you!

What to put in your on hold messages

I recommend that you try to keep your messages useful and informative. Your callers really don’t want to listen to how wonderful YOU are – all they care about is how your service can benefit THEM. Update your customers with details of special offers or new products that may be of interest to them, highlighting the features they might benefit from. Of course, this is the type of information that can change every month or two and an information on hold package that allows updates is ideal for this purpose.

If you get a large volume of calls asking the same questions or wanting to carry out tasks that can be done on your website, this would also be an excellent opportunity to present relevant information on hold.  Pointing them to the correct part of your website saves their time, and yours.

Finally, remember that effective marketing is about building a relationship with your customer, not dissimilar to a friendship. Ask yourself, would you tell this information to one of your close friends in a social context? How would you present it to them? How would they react to your message? This is a really good rule of thumb to help you decide if your information on hold is something your customer would actually want to listen to, and something that will help strengthen the relationship you have with them.

You can find out more about information on hold and listen to examples here.