3 Ways Not to Drive Customers “LOOPy” on Hold

The_hold_buttonThe subject of placing callers on hold came up at a client’s managers meeting yesterday. It always amazes me when companies have no clue what their customers experience while on hold. Most managers and CSRs go about their business without giving it a thought. It might be worthwhile for you to take a look at the total amount of time your customers sit on hold on a given day, week, month or year. I’ll bet you’d be amazed.

So what is the ideal hold experience you can provide when your customer is sitting on hold?

  1. Brand the hold experience. First, you need to think about your business, your brand, and your customer’s situation. What you present to them while they are on hold should be tailored to your particular situation. For example, the large, conservative financial services company we were meeting with would not want to subject their customers to the music of the Sex Pistols.
  2. Provide options. If possible, you should also give customers some kind of "opt out" option while they are on hold without simply having to hang up. If a customer knows they can press a number to leave a message for the CSR who was helping them or get to an operator they are far less likely to feel they are being held hostage by the hold.
  3. Avoid music and messages that "loop" over and over. About the sixth time your customer hears that robotic voice on hold telling them "your call is important to us" they begin to think of all sorts of cynical, sarcastic, unprintable thoughts. Likewise, I remember being put on hold at Best Buy once and was surprised to hear the opening strains of a classy Miles Davis’ tune. After a few seconds the song faded out so they could tell me my call was important and then the song started again, and again, and again, and again. About the fifth time I heard the beginning of the song I wanted to retch. The hold experience was making me angrier, not calmer.

What if you did something unexpected and magical for your customers while they were on hold?

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and tfiz.

  3 comments for “3 Ways Not to Drive Customers “LOOPy” on Hold

  1. July 24, 2008 at 5:46 am

    Right to know here each & every business faces the prospect of putting customers on hold. According to the Telemarketing Magazine, “over 70% of business callers are put on-hold…”As the person pushing the Hold button, we understand that there is a good reason for doing so, but for the person at the other end of the call, it can be one of the most annoying experiences in life.
    According to a CNN Survey, “the average person spends 60 hours per year on-hold…
    Now one might think that Message-On-Hold is just another fancy way to keep your callers entertained. But truth is, Messaging-On-Hold is far more important than something to help customers kill time while they are on hold. Messaging-On-Hold is a highly effective marketing tool.Message-On-Hold is basically an infomercial about your business. Yes, it will keep your callers entertained, reducing caller hang-ups. But more importantly, it will help to sell the products and services that your business has to offer.

  2. July 25, 2008 at 9:46 am

    I recently was on hold with a company that had a series of trivia questions and ‘did you know’s’ as it’s hold ‘music’. It was great at first and I found my annoyance at being placed on hold fading slowly..until the same trivia questions started appearing again..and again..and again.
    It was a great idea but terrible execution. I agree that looping of any sort is extremely frustrating for callers. It’s great to see that this is a topic of a discussion and challenges call centers to be a bit more intune and creative.

  3. August 1, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    How can I disagree? A reliable equipment and solutions for callcenter will always be the key.
    I guess it helps a lot if you get to you read more about callcenter industry updates.

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