The average person spends about 10 to 13 minutes on-hold each and every week -- or a lifetime average of nearly 43 days. Even though the average call to any given business results in a wait time of 40 seconds or less, you want your customers to come away from their on-hold experience happy and willing to talk to you, instead of angry, impatient, disappointed or irate. By crafting a good on-hold messaging program, you can keep your customers active, engaged and feeling good about their affiliation with your business.
Acknowledge Your Customers
There’s nothing worse than calling a business, only to be put on hold without any acknowledgement. A simple greeting such as “Our customer service representatives are currently dealing with other customers, we’ll be with you as soon as we can” can mean the difference between a lost call (and lost revenue) and someone who is willing to wait.
Acknowledging your customers lets them know that you’re aware their time is valuable, and you’re grateful that they’re using it to wait for you. If you’re inclined to move past a generic greeting, consider thanking your clients for their patience as they wait. Studies have shown that instead of apologizing for the wait time, inspiring customers with a positive trait like patience makes them want to live up to your hope and they will, in fact, exhibit more patience.
Add Value to The Wait
Remember how time is valuable? Make the most of your customers’ on-hold times by giving their wait value. Whether it’s a promotional deal available only to those waiting on hold to speak to a customer service agent, or perhaps a rundown of specials they might not know about, giving customers a reason to stay engaged and listening keeps them hanging on.
Not all value comes in the form of deals, promos or advertising for your services, though. You could also use your on-hold message to educate clients about the field you specialize in, or to entertain customers by offering a selection of carefully tailored, licensed, rights-secured on-hold music to listen to. By giving your customers something to focus on while they wait, they’re less likely to be irate when you’re finally able to field their call.
If your customers are repeat callers or loyal clients, chances are it isn’t the first time they’ve heard your on-hold message. Switch up your hold message at least seasonally. By keeping things fresh, you give your loyal customer base something new to keep their attention.
Changing your messages will also give you a chance to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t and tailor your on-hold message to the season - very few people would like to hear about your summer deals in the dead of winter. Nobody expects your business to stay the same, so why should your on-hold message? When you have something new to say, add it to your on-hold message to hook the attention of your callers.
Even though you can’t take their call right that second, it doesn’t mean you can’t engage with your customers. Letting your clients know you welcome their feedback, ideas and input lets people know you care, not just about their business but about what they have to say. You may even get useful feedback that can help you tailor your on-hold programming to better suit the needs of your target market.
Customers experiencing extended wait times might appreciate appropriate humor or even a riddle or puzzle to ponder while they wait -- again, adding value to the time they’re spending on-hold. The more you can keep your waiting clients thinking and engaged while they wait for you to take their call, the less likely they are to be upset over the wait.
Answer Common Questions - Without Being Repetitive
Even though a good many customers are able to find the answer to simple questions about your business by doing a quick web search, some still prefer to - or must - call to ask. If you can, include some basic details about your business in your on-hold messaging. Basic information like store hours, whether you’re open for an upcoming holiday, an address for your physical location or a web address can all assist customers who have questions.
The danger in any on-hold message is repetition - the average wait time is 40 seconds, so avoid looping the same message over and over again. A customer who is NOT calling to ask about your hours of operation or address doesn’t need to hear them two or three times. Avoid repetition. Avoid repetition. Avoid repetition.
The Key to Creating Good On-Hold Messaging
Your on-hold messaging should reflect how you’d want to be treated as a customer -- valued, important and not forgotten or left idly waiting. A good on-hold messaging system is dynamic and changes regularly. It answers common questions without being pedantic or overly repetitive. By acknowledging your customers as real people and thanking them for their patience and time, and giving value to that time, you’re less likely to speak to an upset caller when you can finally pick up the phone.