The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ways we live and operate in countless ways, many of these changes are permanent – they will continue into the future. Among these shifts has been an increase in demand for remote business services. Life has gone on, through the lockdown, and this means the telephone has surged to the fore in importance for your business.

With the increase in enquiry has come the inevitable increase in callers ending up on hold. Retaining their attention for long enough to get them off hold and provide the services they want: that is vital to your success. “Opus No. 1” by Carleton and Deel (trust us, you know it) may be the all-time hold music classic, but is having customers on-hold listening to its perfectly engineered blandness really serving your business purposes? In this article, we’re going to explain how well-crafted on-hold messages can leverage that waiting time to actually improve customer service – we guarantee it!

What are on-hold messages?

Before we can unpack the topic, let’s set the bounds: on-hold messages are voice recordings and/or pieces of music that play while your customer waits to talk to a service agent on the phone. These messages can provide important information about your business, keep the customer up-to-date with new developments or seek to entertain them.

As such, these messages might outline your latest products and services or inform “holders” on the reasons for this unusual delay. Whatever the case, the situation is golden: A customer waiting with bated breath for you to talk to them! On-hold messages represent a fantastic opportunity to maximise the value of a call to your business. Just so long as you treat the circumstances of the call with respect…

So, are you wasting your customers’ time?

In a world saturated with information, consumers are adept at filtering out marketing information. Ignoring traditional advertising is a reflex for the modern public. It is for this reason that on-hold messages are especially powerful. In short, on-hold messaging maximises the value of a precious resource: your customers’ time. If you’re not using the times when your customer is intently focused on you, you’re wasting opportunities to boost your business.

Consider the following advantages of on-hold messaging:

  • Focused attention from your audience
  • Unrivalled marketing access
  • Information delivery
  • Better customer service
  • Reduced load on your team.

Marketing through on-hold messaging delivers a powerful one-two combination. One: while a customer is waiting on the phone, you have their attention in a way unrivalled by other kinds of marketing. They are a voluntarily captive audience. Two: your message is delivered immediately before the customer speaks to one of your representatives. In other words, your chance to capitalise on your marketing message occurs immediately after the client receives that message.

Many of the inquiries fielded by your phone staff will have common, simple answers. Well-planned on-hold messages can answer these frequently asked questions or help direct customers to other sources of information. If a query can be answered by a page on your website, you can direct customers there and reduce the volume of calls fielded by your team. This will reduce pressure on your staff, and result in a more streamlined experience for your clients.

How can you set up on-hold messaging?

Setting up on-hold messaging is simple but will depend on your phone system and service provider. To get started, look into the following:

  • Determine whether your phone system is PBX or VoIP. The older PBX systems (traditional telephony with an old-fashioned system of extensions) will need an on-hold hardware unit installed as part of the network. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems, on the other hand, will not need extra hardware. These software-driven phone networks will have on-hold messaging options built into their management applications.
  • Plan and prepare your message carefully. In many cases, your on-hold message will be the first interaction your customers will have with your business. When recording your message, either hire a professional voiceover service or, if doing it in-house, be sure to use quality audio equipment. A recorder with a good microphone is a must, and also be sure to optimise the recording using audio-editing software.

How can you make the most of your on-hold messaging?

While setting up on-hold messaging is relatively simple from a technical standpoint, maximising its impact takes finesse: your recording must be professional and your message must offer the most pertinent information. For these reasons, we recommend consulting with experienced professionals. Just as you wouldn’t send out physical marketing without consulting a designer, you shouldn’t go it alone with on-hold messaging. After all, you’re literally creating the voice of your business.

In summary, good on-hold messaging means your marketing is more direct, your customers have a better experience and your human resources are deployed more efficiently.

Contact the team at Smart On Hold for more information about on-hold messaging and the options available to you. Smart On Hold can help you tailor your on-hold messages to guarantee a professional impression on your customers. Call 07 3117 0700 or 1300 467 646 to find out more.