Welcome to Hallmark Inns!

Filed under: On Hold Messaging,Uncategorized — admin @ 12:39 pm

~ This was posted on - February 21, 2014

Welcome Hallmark Inns!

  Who they are:

Hallmark Inns at Cannon Beach

 

If you have ever seen Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, you’ll know that any lodging nearby is prime real estate, and an excellent place to vacation.  Hallmarks Innsis the closest hotel to Haystack Rock – less than a block away!

Four vacation homes, and a complete renovation of all suites make this a popular vacation for couples and families in the Summer…

Marketing challenges:

 And also in the Winter too!  When a large storm is forecast, storm watchers stream to the coast and reservations actually go up at Hallmark Inns.   Like most companies that use Hold Time, Hallmark Inns is trying to increase customer’s understanding of what they already offer; and in this case, it’s small and large suites that are available year round.

 

Hallmark Inns is using Hold Time to get the word out about improvements to their facility, and service.  For example, all rooms have a small half window so guests can listen to the surf anytime without getting to warm, or cold.  Gift packs

Dogs are very welcome!

specifically for dogs await their owners and they arrived, and locally – sourced cookies are available in the lobby free of charge.

It’s difficult to communicate these added touches on a webpage, but through Hold Time Music Hallmark Inns can create an atmosphere of quality and friendliness to callers, before they ever arrive.

Our favorite paragraph:

 “IN 1966, A MOTEL OWNER HERE IN CANNON BEACH FENCED SOME DRY SANDS ABOVE THE HIGH TIDE LINE AND RESERVED IT FOR THE PRIVATE USE OF HIS GUESTS.  THERE WAS A PUBLIC BACKLASH: AND TWO YEARS LATER, LED BY GOV. TOM MCCALL, THE OREGON LEGISLATURE PASSED THE OREGON BEACH BILL – ESTABLISHING EVERY BEACH UP TO 16 VERTICAL FEET ABOVE THE LOW TIDE MARK – AS PUBLIC PROPERTY. THAT, ALONG WITH THE COMPLETION OF HIGHWAY 101 AND 36 STATE PARKS ALONG THE COASTAL HIGHWAY, HAS TURNED THE OREGON COAST INTO A WORLD RENOWNED TOURIST DESTINATION… AND THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND PHOTOGRAPHED OF IT ALL IS OUR BACKYARD: HAYSTACK ROCK.  NO WONDER YOU WANT TO STAY WITH US AT HALLMARK RESORT AND SPA!”

Equipment:

 Phone systems at hotels are expansive, but with no ethernet available in the phone room hold time piggybacked our modem-to-modem remote-controlled player to the office fax.  In this way, we can update their production seamlessly… All they need to do is approve the script!

How they found us:

 Hold Time Music works with many telecoms in the Portland area: In fact, we just did the on hold for Integra telecom; but this customer came to us by the kind referral of Matrix Networks.  Probably like you, we don’t have $1 million to advertise so we are very grateful for word of mouth referrals upon which our family business is built.  Thank you!

 

Patrick

The Owner

www.holdtimestudios.com


Welcome to Rehabiliation Medicine Associates!

Filed under: Music On Hold,music on hold technology,On Hold Messaging — admin @ 7:17 am

~ This was posted on - March 4, 2011

Equipment:

Rehabiliation Medicine Associates has three faxes running almost full time, and with an abundance of accessory phone lines, Hold Time installed our fax-based unit, the RUF 2700. This music on hold player is designed to sit on the back end of the fax line like a credit card machine. Faxes pass-through the unit, but the RUF will answer when our studio dials into to upload a new production. A special DTMF code on the phone line alerts the recording software in the player to answer, and receive a new production.

What they do:

When someone’s body has been subjected to a traumatic event, like a car accident, burns, or cancer, there will be significant changes in their lifestyle. RMA’s doctors diagnose, and guide them through this process of healing, and helping them deal with the, in some cases, dramatic reduction in physical strength, or mental fitness.

Marketing Challenges:

RMA’s business is almost entirely by referral, so medical professionals and clients would be hearing the same production. A medical professional will want to know the scope and qualifications of RMA, but the patient is interested in what exactly is going to happen when they come in to an appointment.

The doctors at RMA had a problem typical to medical institutions: Although they want their patients and referral sources to know their qualifications, they’re reluctant to market themselves. I’m proud that Hold Time used a on-hold messaging paragraph format that struck a balance between the two. Here it is:

WHAT IS IMPORTANT PART 1

THANKS FOR CALLING REHABILIATION MEDICINE ASSOCIATES. WE BELIEVE WE’RE ONE OF THE BEST PHYSICAL MEDICINE AND REHABILIATION CLINICS IN THE NORTHWEST, AND WITH GOOD REASON: ON OUR MEDICAL STAFF IS THE MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF LEGACY REHABILIATION SERVICES, AND GRADUATES FROM SOME OF THE TOP TRAINING PROGRAMS IN THE COUNTRY, ALL WITH WIDE RANGING SPECIALTIES LIKE AMPUTEE REHABILIATION, , AND EVEN NARROW SPECIALTIES LIKE POST POLIO SYNDROME. IT SOUNDS IMPRESSIVE, BUT IT’S NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING HERE. WE’LL EXPLAIN IN JUST A MOMENT.

WHAT IS IMPORTANT PART 2

DESPITE OUR MANY DEGREES, TITLES, AND SPECIALTIES… WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT IS THAT WE’RE YOUR DOCTOR TODAY. WE KNOW THIS IS NOT AN EASY ROAD FOR YOU RIGHT NOW, BUT THOUSANDS HAVE TRAVELED IT WITH OUR HELP. THE DOCTORS AT REHABILIATION MEDICINE ASSOCIATES ARE HERE TO TAKE THAT JOURNEY WITH YOU, AND YOU’LL HAVE OUR FULL ATTENTION IN JUST A MOMENT.

You can see how it says, “We’re awesome, but no one here is tooting their own horn!”


Hold Time rolls out Las Vegas!

Filed under: Creative Marketing Ideas,Music On Hold,On Hold Messaging — admin @ 8:03 pm

~ This was posted on - November 29, 2010

Hold Time welcomes the Eiffel Tower Restaurant in Las Vegas!  Read below to learn how this unique restaurant is using music on hold to solve their marketing challenges.

Equipment:

Updating seasonally, Hold Time’s internet player was a good choice… easy installation, and remote updates from anywhere the internet travels.

Marketing Challenges:

As one of Las Vegas’ premier French Restaurants in very unique location, the Eiffel Tower Restaurant wants to host more special events in their restaurant… any group with a part of more than six for anniversaries, birthdays, special occasions, and even business events. Also, the Eiffel Tower restaurant gets a crush of callers before major holidays, including Valentines Day – their most popular Holiday. Using their on-hold messaging, they want callers to know that they can make their reservations online, and up to six months in advance.

One of the Eiffel Tower restaurant’s key marketing draws is Master Chef Joho. Las Vegas is a celebrity culture, and the marketing surrounding their famous Chef is as important is the excellent quality of food they produce.

Hold Time was referred to this unique client from a referral partner in Las Vegas, at the same time they were installing a new phone system.


Welcome Schulhoff Veterinary Hospital!

~ This was posted on - October 31, 2010

What they do:

Schulhoff Animal Hospital serves an affluent community of pet lovers in Connecticut from remodeled mansion that was used (briefly) as General Sherman’s headquarters in the Civil War. It’s a family-run business, that really took the time to communicate the feel of their pet hospital; And so, our writing on this project achieved the best type of on-hold messaging content: stories!

Our Favorite paragraph:

UNUSUAL CASE, BOA CONSTRICTOR, PT. 1

DOCTOR BENYEI TELLS AN AMUSING STORY ABOUT WHEN HE WAS FIRST STARTING OUT AS A YOUNG VET, WILLING TO TACKLE ANYTHING THAT CAME ALONG. ONE SATURDAY MORNING THE EXAM ROOM WAS FULL OF LITTLE SICK POODLES AND CATS. A FEW MINUTES LATER DOCTOR BENYEI LOOKED UP AND THE ROOM WAS EMPTY, EXCEPT FOR A TWELVE-YEAR-OLD BOY SITTING THERE WITH A PAPER SHOPPING BAG. THE REST OF THE STORY, IN TEN SECONDS…

UNUSUAL CASE, BOA CONSTRICTOR, PT. 2

AS DOCTOR BENYEI WAS STARING WITH CURIOSITY AT THE SHOPPING BAG, OUT POKED A HEAD AND PEERED AROUND LIKE A PERISCOPE ON A SUBMARINE. IT WAS A SIX-FOOT BOA CONSTRICTOR WITH AN UPSET STOMACH! WELL, OF COURSE DOCTOR B. TOOK CARE OF THAT POOR SNAKE! WHATEVER’S AILING YOUR PET, BRING IT IN AND WE’LL MAKE IT ALL BETTER! TELL US ABOUT IT, WHEN WE RETURN TO THE LINE.

Marketing Challenge:

Every veterinary clinic wants their customers to do two things 1) come back for regular checkups, and 2) Use them for the scope of services that they provide. Schulhoff Veterinary Hospital has a dog and cat boarding service which is the best in the area. Cats can freely roam around on furniture in a dedicated room, and watch the action outside through an antique picture window as the sun streams through. Sounds like the perfect cat holiday for me!

Equipment:

Veterinary service has a strong seasonal aspect: Summer for vaccines and outdoor issues, Holiday for “keep your pets away from…”, and Winter for cold-weather issues. So, Schulhoff needed to update their production seasonally. Hold Time installed a player that automatically updates their productions over the internet within two hours of it being completed in our studio. Best of all, Schulhoff’s doesn’t have to do anything but approve the production… Hold Time handles the rest!

Schulhoff was referred to us through our website, www.holdtimestudios.com, but not to the home page, they told me. Curiously, the keywords “music on hold Avaya” takes the search engines to the Installation Page of our website, which lists instructions for many types of phone systems.


On-hold: A Valuable Part of a Clear and Consistent Marketing Strategy

Filed under: On Hold Messaging — admin @ 9:53 pm

~ This was posted on - December 1, 2009

“Repetitio est mater studiorum.”

Rendered in English, the statement above reads, “Repetition is the mother of learning.”  I won’t attempt a Latin translation, but I think that maxim could be qualified to say something like, “Repetition of a clear and consistent message is the mother of learning.”  Vague, inconsistent, or contradictory messages lead to ambivalence, indifference, or rejection.

This is no less true when it comes to your customers, the messages you want to communicate to them, and the actions you want them to take as a result of those messages.  One of the secrets of successful sales is grasping the fact that sales resistance is not always due to outright rejection; sometimes it is a result of a lack of clarity.  I’ll state the obvious here:  If your various marketing and communications channels and messages are inconsistent, vague, or contradictory, the result will be that your customers will receive confusing, mixed, or contradictory messages.  Don’t look for high conversion rates in such a case.

It is essential that you are clear about who you are, what you do, what you sell, what your customers should buy from you and why.  A unified front is a must in your branding, imaging, selling – across all marketing channels – TV, radio, web, print, logo, vehicles, clothing, uniforms, billboards, signage, on-hold, in-store and in your company mission, vision, and philosophy as understood and communicated by personnel.  This may be a simple idea to grasp conceptually.  Consistent application of it takes work.  The “bull’s-eye theory of marketing” says that for a given product or service, at any given time, a certain percentage of the potential marketplace will be not at all “in the market”, another group will be “in the market” (the “bull’s eye”) and the rest will be somewhere in between.  Depending on your industry and the list of products and or services you sell, any one customer or potential customer could be at several different stages simultaneously.  To further complicate things, research indicates that the average consumer needs to hear a message multiple times before it registers with them.  Therefore, you may need to master a fairly complex matrix comprised of different products and services as well as the seasonal relevance and an eye toward planning for future needs, all the while aiming toward the goal of keeping your consumer messaging clear, consistent, and relatively simple.  Such an undertaking may not be for the faint of heart, but it’s an ongoing reality every successful business must consistently confront.


Think “On-Hold Message” Instead of “On-Hold Music”

Filed under: On Hold Messaging — admin @ 7:24 pm

~ This was posted on - October 29, 2009

One of the advantages of hiring a company like Holdtime Studios to do your on-hold messaging is the convenience of having your on-hold messages downloaded into your on-hold player via the Internet. (There seems to be some confusion, generally, regarding what is meant by the terms “upload” and “download”. In this case, it would be more correct to say “uploaded”, since it’s a process of Holdtime sending the data (music/message recording) to your on-hold music player. From your perspective, however, it may feel more like a download.)

Why is this a benefit? Because it allows for easy, frequent updating of your on-hold music and message. If your perception of your “on-hold” loop (i.e. what people calling in to your telephone system hear when they are placed on hold) is “music on hold”, meaning primarily music and not spoken messages, the value here may not be immediately apparent. Sure, it’s nice to freshen up the on-hold music every once in a while, but there is something of far greater value that you are failing to take advantage of. The true value of this convenience becomes clearer when you consider just what you can do by utilizing your on-hold loop as an active, rather than a passive medium (think of having a car that you never drive but only use to sit in and listen to the radio!) Some examples:

• Tell customers about new products and services.
• Stimulate powerful emotional responses or paint word pictures through humor, entertaining trivia, personal stories, customer testimonials, company history, and more.
• Direct callers to your website, where they can potentially take care of many of the things they might have been calling you about including get driving directions or your mailing address, find out about your products and services, get additional news about your company, set, change, or cancel appointments, shop at your online store, communicate with you via email, live chat, etc., and on the list goes. All of this, of course, potentially saves you that much time when your customers take care of such business via your website instead of tying up your personnel on the telephone – and that’s a potential, secondary benefit of pro-actively using your on-hold music and messaging system.

So, there are two main points I hope to inspire you to think about:

1. Instead of “on-hold music”, think “on-hold message”.
2. Keep your on-hold message fresh, current, and informative.

By the way, if you stumbled upon this blog by doing a web search on “music on hold download”, or some similar phrase, you might be more in the “do-it-yourself” category, so you may or may not be interested in having Holdtime Studios take care of your on-hold messaging. Those for whom the phrase “music on hold download” means music beds they download for their on-hold music player can, of course, find lots of options for downloadable on-hold music online. For the rest, however, who are less comfortable with the idea of adding one more technological learning curve to their plate, not to mention the time and energy necessary to write, record, and produce custom on-hold messages once, let alone on an on-going, regular basis, a service such as Holdtime Studios is a perfect solution.


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.


Messages and Music On Hold – Make the “Combo” Work for You

Filed under: On Hold Messaging — admin @ 11:57 am

~ This was posted on - August 8, 2009

I just got off the phone with a graphic designer who is working on a website and logo design project for me. Of course I’m trying to get the concepts and images in my mind to his mind. We were talking about not only this specific project and our attempts to communicate with each other but also that process generally of one person trying to communicate something subjective to another person. Just before he hung up, he made an insightful statement: “You can talk about the technical specifics forever and never get there; sometimes you just have to see it or hear it and say, “Yeah, that’s it!”

The previous post of this blog considered the fact that the world is made up of what we might call “thinkers” and “feelers” and virtually all people are really some mix of both. No matter what the communication medium from email to radio advertising to messages and music on hold, you can enhance its effectiveness by keeping that “combo” idea of thinking and feeling in mind. An average sampling of customers calling your phone system will include some people who want you to “bottom line it” for them and others who want you to tell them stories and paint pictures. It might be safe to assume that some combination of the two approaches is generally a good strategy. As I said in an earlier post, “people do business with people”. Customers need to feel they can trust you and they relate to you on some level. If everything else is equal between you and your competition, you’ll win the day if your customers are more comfortable with who you are as a person – or who your people are as people.

Being “nice” or likeable is not the point, however. You must be perceived as an expert. Moreover, you must really be an expert, and you must give your customers the specific information and answers they need. The trick is finding a way to communicate your expertise in an appealing and relevant way. Your customers must know that not only are you a competent professional, you also hear them as people and understand their situation, issues, needs, and objectives. It’s basic, “customer service 101”, and it applies to your messages and music on hold as much as any other area of your communications.


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.


“Serve” Your Customer with Pleasant, Productive Hold Time

Filed under: On Hold Messaging — admin @ 11:44 am

~ This was posted on - June 27, 2009

We all know what it’s like to be on the customer side and receive poor customer service, or to have to deal with the frustrations of long hold times, user-unfriendly phone trees, and annoying “Muzak” ™, only to be rewarded by rude, inept, seemingly apathetic “customer service” reps (let alone “Paul” from India who asks, “May I be knowing the reason you are calling today, Mr. Holdon?”  …As my elderly mother, who seems to think that there is just one guy, who really is named “Paul”, who answers all customer service calls to India, says “I don’t like that man.  I don’t have time for it!  I don’t want to keep rebooting my computer.  I don’t want to talk to him!”)

This response to a blog post entitled “Customer Servitude” articulates what many of us may be feeling…

“I fear true customer service is a thing of the past.  Unfortunately we live in a world where technology over powers us, with that we loose the human connection, or once we get the human connection  “we’re putting them out”. God forbid they have to communicate with someone, never mind trying to help someone. If you’re lucky, really lucky, you may just get someone who is cordial to you and willing to help. These people are few and far between who hold the true meaning of customer service.”

Regardless of the medium, every minute of contact between your customer and you is important.  From perusing your website to walking into your physical location to picking up your brochure to calling you on the phone – and yes, to those seconds or minutes “waiting on hold” – each is an opportunity to help or hurt your customer’s impression of you.

Your decision to add “music on hold” to your phone system (or to improve the quality of your current on-hold music or message) is a good one.  Whether your customer is calling to buy, to get information, to complain, or even to compliment, if you can’t answer their call immediately you should strive to ensure that their time on hold is pleasant and even productive – for both of you.


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