Any experienced shop owner knows that when a visitor is idle, the potential for losing them as a customer increases. If a customer is browsing the products, if their interest is captured, there’s an opportunity to offer them more information, which may lead them to a purchasing decision. However, if their interest has waned, if their mind is allowed to even briefly stray from that decision process, the potential of purchase can be lost.

The same is true of callers waiting to speak with a sales or service representative. When on hold, a caller’s attention is unfocused. Or, in other words: idle. To a degree, music may keep their mind from wandering. Ideally, you should be providing information that will hold or even increase their interest.

A pleasant telephone operator can make a tremendous difference, and periodic messages that their wait-time is nearly at an end may help. Unfortunately, the human mind can be very rapidly detoured, so either dead air or simple music may not be sufficient to keep the caller both on the line and open to your message.

Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to maximizing the efficiency of your business’s on-hold messaging.

What Shouldn’t They Hear?

It’s important to identify common mistakes that can result in callers hanging up the phone. Your business should be sure to avoid the following when crafting your on-hold messaging.

  • Dead air: This can leave a caller thinking their call may have been disconnected. Never leave a caller wondering if they’re wasting their time. If this question arises, they’ll usually decide their time would be better spent elsewhere. At the very least, they’ll be irritated by the doubt, so that even when they’re finally connected to someone that can help them, they’ll be less receptive.
  • Radio music: Aside from the legal issues of playing radio music to your callers, there are two other problems with using radio to fill their wait-time. First, everyone doesn’t have the same tastes in music, so some listeners will invariably be critical of the music being played. More importantly, radio stations finance their broadcasts by selling advertising. Your business doesn’t want to give competitors the ability to advertise to potential customers while they’re on hold.
  • The same message, over and over: Playing a periodic message like “Your call is important to us. Please hang on” may be better than nothing, but only slightly. If your on-hold time is typically longer than 30 seconds, there are two things you should do: find a way to reduce it, and be creative in making your messages more pleasant.

The average person will stay on hold for around 3 and a half minutes before irritation begins to set in. The perception that your business considers their time to have little value increases with every second after. That is not the path to building loyal customers and brand advocates.

What On-Hold Messaging Should They Hear?

When a customer is on hold, it’s a perfect opportunity to defuse their natural irritation at having to wait and to replace that negative impression with one that’s more positive. There are different ways to do this. Just a few include:

  • Humor: Laughter causes the release of endorphins, which essentially makes people “feel good”. Be cautious, though, as everyone’s taste in humor isn’t the same. Obviously, you should avoid humor that is quite subtle, sarcastic, or risqué.
  • Innovative messaging: Offering something different can capture a caller’s interest and appreciation for a new twist. Use your imagination, but don’t go wild. Including interesting facts from your business’s industry or history might be a good place to go.
  • Value: This is another area in which you can use your imagination to grab customers’ interest and appreciation. For instance, a message such as “We apologize for making you wait. In appreciation for your patience, we’d like to discount any order you place today by 10%. Just mention discount code HoldABC when placing your order.”

Obviously, this is also a great time to mention that 60% off special you’re featuring on a particular promotion, free delivery all month, or a special rebate offer. You could also provide helpful tips on the use of one of your flagship products, cleaning and maintenance hints, or even some interesting facts about its benefits. Short surveys can even be presented, which can provide you with valuable customer feedback.

Such tactics can help build a loyal customer base and lead to referrals and positive reviews. It’s a golden opportunity. Don’t let it slip by you.

How to Manage Your Customers’ On-Hold Time

It’s important to note that this isn’t something your business can simply set up once and forget about. Messages should be freshened periodically so that they’re relevant to the season, current events, or your special offers. While a well-managed system can do wonders for your bottom line, a misstep can have catastrophic results.

The solution is to use a professional on-hold messaging service. Such services will handle the setup and periodic updating of your on-hold messages. They’ll ask you a number of specific questions and offer suggestions for your approval, then produce a professional quality on-hold experience for your callers.

They’ll also bring professional marketing techniques to the table, which can make your callers’ on-hold time more productive for both your customers and your business. And they can be surprisingly inexpensive while delivering tangible results.

Schedule a demo with Spectrio’s On-Hold Messaging experts to see how we can transform your business’s on-hold customer experience!