Making Plans for Music On-Hold?

Filed under: Music On Hold — admin @ 3:03 pm

~ This was posted on - September 19, 2009

Making Plans for Music On-Hold?
Remember: People do Business with People

The statement “people do business with people” is much more than a truism.  ‘Worth their salt” business people keep the truth expressed by these words ever in mind.  Consideration of the converse of this principle can be helpful as well:  “People don’t do business with… anything but other people.”  Or at least, not if they can help it.  Think about you own experience.  Haven’t you ever felt like exclaiming, “Thank God!  A real-live person…!” after an interminable and exasperating time of waiting and working your way through the auto-attendant or phone-tree of some “monster-mega” corporation, government agency, etc.  And, miracle of miracles, what about the elated relief that courses through you when the human on the other end of the line (A) speaks proper English (B) is reasonably well-educated (C) is knowledgeable and conversant regarding your reason for calling (D) has a positive and constructive attitude and doesn’t treat you like an annoying interruption.  I.e., they are ready, willing, and able to help you.  What a concept!

In your provisions for music on hold, messages on hold, etc., think of how you can make the most of your customers’ wait time with well-written scripts that have a “human touch” – so that when they come off hold your callers don’t feel as if they’ve just been rescued from some desert island.  Here’s a paragraph Holdtime Studios just submitted to their newest client, Boise Vision Care:

“Care… It’s in our name, and all we do.  Your call is ringing in today to Boise Vision Care.  We’ll keep your time on hold as brief as possible, and if you happen to be online, you can also connect with us at “BOISE VISION CARE DOT COM”.  Thanks for holding.  We’re wrapping up with our other patients right now to answer your call as quickly as possible.”

Your “On-Hold Loop” Holds Music, Messages, and More

Filed under: On Hold Messaging — admin @ 8:55 pm

~ This was posted on - September 16, 2009

To some, it may just be that little box attached to your phone system, but to the more “nuanced”, their on-hold player holds music, messages, and a one-of-a-kind tool for communicating with customers.  The question is, are you communicating with your customers on-hold?

Here are three things to think about with regard to your on-hold messaging:

1.    Don’t assume you are automatically “communicating” with your customers on hold, just by having an on-hold system.
2.    Ask yourself what you are communicating.
3.    Think “dialogue” rather than “monologue” (conceptually, at least).

Too many businesses, I fear, use their on-hold loop as essentially a baby-sitter, that is, more or less the telecom equivalent of their office lobby.  I.e., it’s a place to dump customers until you can get to them.  Among other things, one problem with this approach is it shows or at least implies disrespect for customers – a backwards attitude which seems to say that you are doing them a favor by giving them the privilege of doing business with you.  If that is your thinking, may I suggest that you consider the wise words of Hobbes, Calvin’s sage companion in the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, who once remarked, “One of us needs to stick his head in a bucket of ice water.”

Your customers are not children, nor are they “profit units”.  What do your customers hear while in your on-hold loop…?  Too often, it’s something like “Your call is important to us, and will be answered in the order in which it was received…”  For the record, one call does not an “order” make.  Apart from what may be seen by some as grammatical trivialities, the answer to the question of how well you communicate with your customers while they are on hold depends on how we define “communication”.  Despite living in the “information age”, with its steady stream of “new and improved” communications technologies, it seems that, as a society, we are drifting away from true communication.  The reasons for this are complex, but I’d like to at least encourage awareness of this trend and, hopefully, inspire some conscious resistance to it among businesses who seek to prosper through really communicating with, connecting with, and serving their customers.

In a required “Principles of Mass Communication” lecture class in college I once stood to my feet and challenged what I felt was the professor’s overly simplistic definition of “communication”, which was, “…the transmission of a message from a sender (“A”) to a receiver (“B”).  This definition was illustrated by a simple line drawing of two squares labeled “A” and “B”, respectively, with an arrow (the “message”) in between the two squares, and pointing at “B”.  While such a spare illustration may serve for purely utilitarian purposes, when it comes to the message itself – and the reason “A” is sending it in the first place – I believe a broader perspective merits consideration.  Simply put, if “B” has little or no idea of what “A” is actually trying to say – i.e. “A”s intended message, I, for one, don’t think “A” has truly communicated with “B”.  In such instances the arrow in the middle might just as well be labeled “noise”.  My professor told me I had a good point to which he would later return.  I sat back down at my desk, and waited.

Call it nitpicking, but I would suggest that communication involves more than merely sending a message.  True communication, as I see it, does not happen until the intended audience not only receives but also understands the message, at least to some minimal extent.  Granted, from a purely technical standpoint, the distinction is merely semantic, and my prof was perfectly correct in his definition.    Rather than quibbling over semantics, however, perhaps, with regard to communicating with your customers on hold, the smartest thing would be to talk to them and find out what their experience is in your on-hold loop.  They could be a source of constructive feedback and help you communicate more effectively, provide a higher level of service, and, potentially, improve your bottom line.  Having an actual conversation with them while they are on hold would obviously be, by definition, unfeasible, but if you have an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude with regard to your on-hold loop, you might not be making the best use of this resource.

Holdtime Studios must be doing something right, as their clients’ customers have actually been known to request that they be put back on hold so they can hear the rest of the on-hold message.  As for defining “communication” an alternative to my college professor’s definition which is also simple, but I think, for current purposes, rather more serviceable, is the word “connection”.

By the way, my professor never did return to my point.

Hold Music Players

Filed under: Hold Music Player,Music On Hold — admin @ 4:23 pm

~ This was posted on - September 5, 2009

As a general rule, the smaller the business, the greater the number of hats management needs to wear. There’s administration, legal, operations, production, fulfillment, customer service, website, internet and computer systems, telecom, tech-support, sales and marketing, just for starters. In the marketing category, there are the various marketing channels – print, radio, tv, web, etc. Oh, yes, there’s also your on-hold music and messaging. Or does that come under telecom? So many things to think about!

If you’ve been putting off adding on-hold messaging – or upgrading your existing on-hold messaging – because you think it’s too “technical”, hopefully this post will help encourage you to pull this project off the back burner and get it handled so you can check it off your to-do list. On-hold messaging is a low-cost, easily implemented, and surprisingly effective marketing channel that allows you to reach a warm market with targeted, timely messages. Don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from taking advantage of this strategic tool.

Whether you’re considering hiring a professional service such as Holdtime Studios or supplying your own music and or message you’ll still need to add a little bit of equipment to your phone system. Holdtime Studios has a range of options in on-hold music and message players for whatever your application all of which are available at a surprisingly low cost. Alternatives you’ll purchase on your own also come in a range of affordable price points and are widely available. Either way, you should have no trouble finding an on-hold music or message player, regardless of your telephone system. Most of these players are fairly easy to install and easy to use. Lower end phone systems such as those sold at office supply stores may require a little bit of extra adaptation in the form, typically, of one or two small devices plugged “in-line” between the telephone and the player. Don’t let this intimidate you; probably the most “technical” thing you’ll do is read the directions and make sure you plug these little units into each other in the right sequence. I.e., you’re not doing any “wiring”, you’re just plugging things together like tinker toys. (Do they still make those?)

Then, of course, there is the issue of the actual music or message you play on your on-hold music player. Obviously, the more professionally it is produced, the better the image you will project to your customers. In addition to selling hold music/message players, Holdtime Studios provides their clients with a professional grade of audio recording, music, and production for their on-hold messages. What’s more, they also employ professional, creative writers to custom-craft each one of their on-hold scripts. If you assume such a service is outside your budget, you owe it to yourself to look into it before ruling it out. You just might be pleasantly surprised at how affordable – and cost-effective – it is to let Holdtime Studios wear this hat for you.

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