Telephone on Hold – Music and Messaging That’ll Drive Your Customers Wild

Thanks for holding – we’ll answer your call when we can be bothered… ‘

Being placed on hold or in a call queue can be one of the most frustrating and irritating of experiences. We’ve all been there as customers and it usually happens when we really need to talk to someone quite urgently, so calling back at another less busy time just isn’t an option.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re on hold right now. You don’t really have the time to make this call let alone sit in a queue waiting to speak to someone, but the call needs to be made.

You’ve checked your watch eight times in the last five minutes, and yes, it’s still only been five minutes even though it feels like twenty. You drum your fingers impatiently on your desk, thinking of all the other important things you could be doing.

This experience couldn’t get any more infuriating could it?

Or could it? Let’s see if we can really make your blood boil by throwing in a poorly scripted and badly voiced message trying to sell you a product similar to the one you are calling to complain about, and then repeat it ad nauseam.

We won’t stop there however – we’ll also add a dash of dreadful music so irritating that it would test the patience of a saint and to top it all off we’ll make sure that the overall quality is so poor that you can barely understand what the voice is saying anyway.

‘Yeah? What do you want?’

Then suddenly there’s a click (or a bang, depending on which end of the conversation you are). You’ve put the receiver down, the next time you pick it up the chances are that it will be to call a competitor in the hope that their telephone on hold messages won’t induce a nervous breakdown.

Now imagine that business is your business and that customer was your customer. Note that I say ‘was’ as it seems pretty unlikely they’ll be back. Too many more of those and the ‘was’ will quite probably apply to your business as well.

Whether your business is large or small you simply can’t afford to take your customers for granted. Not only do you need to make sure that your customer service is top-notch, you need to present your business in the right way too – shop front, staff, offices, website and of course, telephone on hold.

So now you’re worried about your on hold messaging and you’re reaching for the phone to hear what your customers are hearing when they call you.

Before you do let’s rewind and see if we can improve your recent experience. Try making that call again, you still don’t really have the time, but it needs to be done.

‘Thank you for holding, we will answer your call as soon as possible.’

While you look at your watch slightly less frequently, you still hope that you’ll get through to someone soon as even after just a few seconds this is already taking too long.

You hear the first message and brace yourself for a barrage of patronising cross selling from a tired sounding robot with a scratchy, distorted voice.

But it’s not. Instead it’s a soothing, professional sounding voice welcoming you and assuring you that your call will be answered as soon as possible and offering alternatives to waiting. It’s clear and coherent, it’s informative and fits the image of the business perfectly. As a result you feel your trust in the business grow and even begin to relax slightly.

The music’s good too, quite catchy in fact, so much so that when the next message comes along you don’t mind that it’s informing you of a new product or service and you make a mental note to ask about it when you get through.

There’s another message, this time it assures you that your call will be answered soon and also gives you some important and very useful information about the business. By now you’re almost totally placid, your mind wanders and you’re taken slightly off guard when a friendly customer service representative interrupts the music and apologises for your wait.

From this point onwards it’s down to the employee of the business to make sure that the customer’s experience is as good as it should be, but they’ve been given a head start because the on hold experience was as good as it possibly could be.

So when the click of the receiver finally comes it isn’t borne out of frustration, it’s a satisfied sounding little click marking the end of a productive conversation between a representative of the business and a customer who will continue to be a customer and support the business that has made the effort to make them feel valued.

‘I’m sorry you had to wait, how can we help you today?’

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