It's no secret that people spend a lot of time on hold. A 2012 study by Research Now found that people spend an average of 10 to 13 minutes on hold every week. If that doesn't sound inconvenient, it adds up to an average of 43 days out of the average lifetime spent waiting for someone to pick up the phone.
While the goal is to make sure that customers never have to wait for someone to pick up the receiver, it's almost impossible to avoid if your business is booming. Second to eliminating on-hold time entirely is making sure that customers get the most out of their on-hold experience. By combining speech and music, you can ensure a smooth experience for those who call your business.
Perception of On-Hold Services Influences Customer Satisfaction
To craft the best on-hold message for your customers and clients, it's important to understand the basics of customer satisfaction. In order to do so, it's worth harkening back to the 1985 findings of Harvard business professor David Maister, wherein it was concluded that customer satisfaction was an equation of perception plus expectations.
In his groundbreaking study, Maister posited that there were eight basic tenants to customer satisfaction regarding wait times:
- Unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time. Offer customers a reason to continue waiting and give value to their time.
- A customer who is addressed and acknowledged is more satisfied than a customer who isn't engaged at all. By adding in a verbal acknowledgment that you know they're waiting, customers are more likely to perceive the wait time as shorter.
- Anxious customers perceive wait times as longer. By quelling anxiety through music or reassuring speech, you can improve customers’ satisfaction with their wait time.
- An actively engaged customer feels at ease, and thus satisfaction rates are greater.
- Unexplained waits feel longer than waits with a reason. Even a simple verbal statement of “We are experiencing longer than normal call volumes. Please wait,” can quell customer anxiety and upset.
- A wait that's unfair seems longer than a wait that's equal to those of other customers' times. By letting customers know that all calls are handled in the order they're received can give customers a feeling of justice and equity, dulling an outraged perception.
- Higher value goods and services can command a longer wait time than low value items or services. If you're in the business of catering galas and weddings, your customers are more inclined to understand a longer wait time than if you run a thrift store.
- Solo waiting feels longer to customers than group waiting. While customers have no way to know that they're part of a group when they call your store, you can confer a sense of solidarity and inclusiveness by using group-centric language in the speech portion of your hold messages.
Why Pair Speech With Music?
Music alone is often effective at engaging your customers while they wait on-hold. The right genre and tempo of music can make customers find waiting on hold more tolerable, if not outright enjoyable. Music entertains customers and gives some value to the time they're waiting.
Speech alone can reassure customers and direct their perception of the wait to feel as though they're valued and important enough to get them to stay on the line. Speech-only on-hold messages are unobtrusive and easy to ignore if customers are multi-tasking, but can feel meaningless and boring after just a short amount of time.
By pairing music and speech together in a custom on-hold message, you can cover all of Maister's eight basic tenants for optimal customer satisfaction. While both music and speech have their advantages and disadvantages, pairing them together in the right manner can lead to increased customer satisfaction in the face of wait times and decreased agitation in customers who must wait for you to answer the phone. And when people are less upset or agitated, they're more likely to use their purchasing power at your business instead of going elsewhere.
Crafting a Speech and Music On-Hold Service
When you combine speech and music in your on-hold service, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, song selection can appeal to customers or repel them. The most inoffensive genre choice among all demographics and genders was adult pop/alternative, according to a 1992 study by Kellaris and Altsech. It had the least negative impact on listeners but didn't create a positive impact or incentive to stay, either.
But music genre isn't the only thing to take into account. Music must be properly licensed and rights secured to be used in a business setting, even as an on-hold accompaniment. Without the proper rights, you could possibly bankrupt yourself with some very hefty fines.
The speech portion of your on-hold service should be calm and reassuring, without sounding pandering or placating. The right word choice, intonation and delivery can mean the difference between a happy customer and lost revenue.
Choosing the right time to switch from speech to music is also important. If you interrupt a song a customer is enjoying to deliver your message or let callers know their place in the queue, you risk upsetting them. If you wait until a long song is over, customers might give up without ever hearing the (vital) spoken portion of your on-hold service.
Using a Professional On-Hold Service to Craft and Manage Your Messages
When it comes to mixing music and speech audio for a custom on-hold service, enlisting the help of a professional like those at Retail Radio can pay off. Not only can the pros help you find the right music to appeal to your customer base, but you can be assured that the rights to the music are properly secured.
A professional service that allows you to change your message as needed, record new audio or pull audio directly from your advertisements or other promotional media, can also make the process easier. For example, at Retail Radio, you have control of your on-hold service through easy-to-use proprietary software, 24/7, from nearly anywhere.
The Benefits of Combining Speech and Music For On-Hold Services
Speech-only on-hold services are unobtrusive and can make customers feel valued and reassure anxieties. Music-only on-hold services offer entertainment and value to customers' time. Combining speech and music in a custom on-hold service or on-hold message provides all the things needed for customer satisfaction with very few drawbacks. Using a professional service to help craft your custom on-hold message that blends audio types can give you the best chance to keep customers on the line and increase your revenue and customer satisfaction rates.