Image-Build, Inform, and Motivate with Your Phone Hold Music, Part 2

Filed under: Music On Hold — admin @ 9:44 pm

~ This was posted on - July 28, 2009

In our last post, we met Jane Doe. Jane (you’re familiar with her brother, John) hails from the famous “Doe” family, long-renowned in the business world for their exceptional business acumen and discernment. Jane has little patience for either poor customer service or cheesy phone hold music. This post continues exploring how you can make better use of your phone hold music to win the “Jane Doe’s” out there as loyal customers.

For many business people, it seems that “phone hold music” – aka “music on hold”, “on-hold messaging”, “messages on hold”, etc. – is little more than an afterthought – i.e., a necessary but trivial requirement on the level of pencil sharpeners, potted plants, or paper towel dispensers in the bathroom. I.e., it’s just one of the “etcetera”. The perception of the public at large with regard to the modern business phenomenon of “phone hold music” may not matter much. Your perception is, arguably, another matter for the simple reason that you may be wasting a potentially powerful, low-cost, and easily employed means of communicating with, educating, and motivating your customers to do business with you. If so, you might want to consider the value of undergoing a self-imposed paradigm shift on this subject.

If you think the only purpose of your phone hold music is to entertain – to help keep your customers from becoming so bored and irritated while waiting on hold that they hang up – you’re missing the boat. Obviously phone hold music can fill in the empty silence. It can also, however, be a great deal more than just “filler”. Regardless of your industry, your customers are individuals – whether they are calling on their own personal behalf, as representatives of a company, or whatever. They not only have unique needs, they may be at different stages in the buying process, or, they may have already purchased and be calling with a service issue, a question, or a complaint. They may be long-time, repeat customers or they might be just “window shopping”.

Regardless, every caller is a future customer. What’s more, there is, generally, no guarantee that a current customer cannot be lost. Moreover, theoretically at least, every customer can potentially be a candidate for additional products or services. It is up to you to “broaden their horizons” by educating them with regard to your product line, suite of services, etc. While they’re on hold, you could describe your sales and fulfillment processes, let them know what they can do to streamline things, and tell them how they can help you help them. You can share the creative ways other customers have made use of your products. Plant the seeds of new ideas. Help them think “outside the box”.

As for the “entertainment value” of your phone hold music, why not bump that up a notch while you’re at it? Instead of “cheesy hold music”, delight with relevant but amusing trivia. Or, engage in some endearing anecdotes or share a notable bit of customer feedback or something your business has done to contribute to the community. “People do business with people”. By the time “Jane Doe” finishes her time on hold she will, if you have made good use of your phone hold music, have undergone something of a transformation into a customer that is better informed about who you are, what you do, how you do it, how she will benefit, and why she might want do business with you.

Image-Build, Inform, and Motivate with Your On-Hold Music and Message

Filed under: On Hold Messaging — admin @ 2:11 pm

~ This was posted on - July 18, 2009

Meet Jane Doe – a smart and savvy business person and a potential new customer of yours. Jane has a need for the products or services you provide and the budget to pay for them. She is also well-connected with a large network of business associates, co-workers, friends, and family with whom she frequently shares her impressions regarding her business experiences. Jane expects the companies with whom she does business to provide the high level of service she provides to her customers. Those who do are rewarded with a loyal customer and a rich source of referrals. Those who drop the ball not only lose a valuable customer, but they miss out on the referrals, and may even earn a negative reputation. Jane is about to pick up the phone and call your business for the first time. What will her experience be?

Jane understands that you may be busy with other customers and unable to help her immediately, so she’s willing to wait on hold for a short time. How will her on-hold experience color her impressions of your company? This is her first contact, and it is likely to have a lasting impact and play a major role in her decision as to whether or not to do business with you. A music-on-hold-message is a combination of elements including music, words, voice, audio production, and equipment. Music on-hold messages range tremendously in style, quality, and content. They can project a definite image about the business in terms of who they are, what they do, how they do it, why they are in business. Is your on-hold music and message an accurate reflection? While Jane is waiting on hold are you projecting an image of a professional, responsive, considerate company that is motivated to meet her needs? By the time Jane’s call is answered will she be better informed about your company, aware of pertinent company news or specials, better educated and better equipped to make a buying decision? Words and music can be powerful conveyors of emotion. What emotions do you want Jane to be feeling when you answer her call?

When Jane hangs up from this call will you have won or lost her business? Your music on-hold message can help determine that outcome.

Two Words to the Wise About Free Music On Hold

Filed under: free hold music — admin @ 2:03 pm

~ This was posted on - July 11, 2009

Free Music On Hold”. No, I’m not talking about some kind of civil rights cause. I’m talking about your wise decision to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and to try to enhance their calling and on-hold experiences. A couple of words of caution, however.

First, make sure you cover yourself legally by using only music that you are licensed to use.
Do some web searches for “music on hold copyright”, etc. There are strict laws governing use of virtually any material – music or otherwise – which has been written, recorded, or produced by someone else. These laws are actively enforced, and substantial fines are levied against violators.

Second, if you don’t have the budget for a professionally produced on-hold music and message production, “free” hold music is a good first step, but do your best to make it sound as professional as possible. Find the best quality music you can and play it on the highest quality player that you can afford. Take a hard look at your phone system. Is the sound quality of calls clear – both for callers on hold and when connected to an extension on the phone system (i.e., when talking to someone in your office)? Call in to your business from several different outside telephone numbers and listen to the quality of the sound of the phones when someone answers the call as well as the quality of the on-hold sound. It shouldn’t be noticeably scratchy or “tinny” sounding. It should be reasonably clear and you shouldn’t have to strain to hear. Nothing about the experience should be distracting or annoying. If it is, go through the system piece by piece and identify and upgrade the offending elements. I.e., if there is bad sound quality the problem may be in the music player or in the phone system – or it could be in the phone line or the wiring between the “demarc” (point of demarcation) and your phone system. That is, it could be somewhere between the phone lines out “on the street” and your building or it could be somewhere in the building.

Make the calling and on-hold experience a pleasant one, and make it as easy as possible for your customers to be impressed with your professionalism. Just make sure you cover your legal bases in the process.

Something is Better Than Nothing, Provided…

Filed under: Music On Hold — admin @ 7:49 pm

~ This was posted on - July 8, 2009

Something is sometimes better than nothing, but not always. Take the case of “free hold music”, or any kind of “free” onhold messaging your company or organization might be considering. Sure, it’s fair to say that, in theory, it’s far better to have something playing for your callers who are “on hold” – some kind of music, or verbal message, or combination of the two. Almost anything but dead silence. No question. Statistics and common sense back this up.

It’s easy to imagine exceptions to this generality, however. For example, if the quality of your audio is bad it can project an unprofessional, even fly-by-night image. As organizations with unprofessional, low-quality onhold messaging or music become more rare, the detrimental imaging suffered by those who have not yet modernized their callers’ onhold experience becomes potentially that much greater. I know that when I find myself on hold nowadays and subjected to bad audio, and/or cheesy music, and/or poorly written announcements, the experience seems anachronistic, and, even more comical than it used to twenty or thirty years ago! (Search for “worst hold music ever” at YouTube for a humorous response to one particularly egregious example of “cheesy hold music”.)

True, you might save a few bucks on the front end by doing your on hold music or message “on the cheap”, but as with all of your other marketing and imaging tools, you get what you pay for. Especially in an economy like this one, when it comes to your ability to compete and survive, your image really is everything, and your image is potentially threatened by any weak links in the chain. Bottom line, if you do decide to find some source of free music to play on hold, or to write and produce your own on hold messages, you had better be prepared to put the time, effort, and energy into the research and education necessary to ensure that you are not shooting yourself in the foot. A better, more cost-effective option might be to avail yourself of a service who specializes in on hold music and messaging and who has the expertise and experience to deal with technical and equipment issues, writing and production, and regularly scheduled refreshing and updating of your messages, as well as covering all legal and copyright infringement bases.

Copyright 2008 © Hold Time Studios Site design by Doug Williams & Associates