You Keep Me Hanging On the Telephone

Don’t leave customers hanging in silence. Mark Williamson, (pictured) Sales and Marketing Director for audio branding specialist PHMG explains how to turn hold time into a key marketing tool.

The implications of poor call handling can cost a business dearly. Research has revealed 67 per cent of consumers have hung up on a service call before their particular issues could be addressed due to the nature in which their call was answered and handled.

Impolite and unprofessional phone manner plays its part in this but even greater irritation comes from being left on hold for a significant period of time without attempts being made to engage or entertain.

This could spell danger for the industry. Recent research by PHMG across 3,630 businesses revealed that security companies leave callers waiting for 33.64 seconds, longer than the UK average.

Of those placed on hold, 34 percent were subjected to silence, 26 per cent heard music and 26 percent were made to listen to beeps.

Considering further research has found 90 per cent of people hang up within 20 seconds if left listening to silence, the practice employed throughout the industry does not seem conducive to converting sales leads.

Image isn’t everything
When it comes to promoting a company, audio branding is far too often underappreciated as a sales and marketing tool. Granted, creating a positive visual image is a crucial element to any marketing strategy but it is necessary to give serious consideration to how your business sounds as telephone presence can be one of the largest determining factors in shaping perceptions. This is where bespoke audio messages combining brand congruent voice and music – known as on-hold marketing can help.

In an ideal world, telephone calls would be answered immediately but that isn’t always possible. The caller may need to be transferred to another employee who is better placed to deal with their enquiry or they might need extra information which isn’t to hand.

In these instances, a cost-effective on-hold marketing solution makes use of what otherwise would be ‘dead’ air.

On-hold marketing provides a key opportunity to communicate highly-targeted messages to an attentive audience, all the while creating a positive experience for the caller. Not only has it been shown to decrease the perceived amount of time on hold but also reduce hang-ups by 79 per cent.

If locksmiths are putting customers on hold for 33.64 seconds, longer than an average television advert, this is a window of time for a business to cross-sell, up-sell and provide information on its products.

Key messages
Not only could messages help increase awareness of the company’s range of services, such as 24-hour emergency call-out or security safe installations but using the on-hold system could also notify callers of a locksmith’s MLA accreditation and years of  industry experience. This could help build client trust and provide reassurance that they are in safe hands.

The messages could also inform callers that they cater for both business and residential customers or even direct clients to their website to view further information.

An emotional connection
Sounds we hear on a daily basis have the ability to provoke an emotional response so when it comes to implementing an on-hold solution, it is important to choose a provider who understands how to tailor your messages to reflect brand image.

Experts can help construct a bespoke audio profile which is congruent with your existing visual branding, starting by taking into consideration the most appropriate style and tone to reinforce company values rather than trying to make a square peg fit a round hole.

There are a number of variables to consider when creating a successful on-hold message.

When it comes to choosing a voice, gender, age and tone are all important aspects to consider. A masculine voice portrays authority, whereas a female voice is typically perceived as soft and welcoming. Also, an older voice depicts professionalism and dependability, in comparison to the energetic and enthusiastic representation of the young voice.

For businesses operating in areas with a particularly strong sense of identity, incorporating an accent into a campaign can help customers relate to the firm and ultimately give them their business.

In terms of music, companies often choose a popular music track without thinking of whether the song carries negative connotations for the customer.

Physical attributes of the tune, such as tempo, volume and pitch, can all be used to communicate emotional meaning. As a consequence, locksmiths can work with the on-hold specialist to create new music tracks which are unique to them, producing a tune without any preconceptions to fit in with the brand image.

Golden opportunity
A simple on-hold solution can help a company boost sales, improve customer service and gain a competitive advantage in a crowded market, yet it is still overlooked as an everyday marketing tool.

There is an opportunity for early adopters to reap the benefits by standing out as professional, well-run and dependable organisations.

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