Most retail businesses see their share of highs and lows in call volume. Naturally, the approach of the winter holiday season drives large peaks in call volume. A significant percentage of retail stores hire seasonal employees to help satisfy the increased customer needs during this time because it’s key to maintaining a high level of satisfactory customer service.
Numerous studies have shown that more than 15 percent of callers on hold will hang up after just 30 to 40 seconds. It makes sense to assume that the volume of hang ups increases the longer a consumer is on hold. If 15 percent of customers hang up after 40 seconds, then as hold time increases, so does the percentage of abandoned phone calls.
Create a New On-hold Message
Your on-hold message has a captive audience – you know it and your customers know it. Because the customer wants to speak to a live business representative, he or she has no choice but to hang on and listen to your message. Callers expect to be put on hold, especially during busy shopping seasons. However, what you do for them during that wait can score points for your business.
- You know your brand and your target clientele, so tailor your message accordingly. If your store caters to young, trendy professionals, you certainly wouldn’t choose music more suited for an auto repair shop.
- Personalize your message. It’s perfectly acceptable to share information about your business, whether it’s how you got started, the professionalism of your employees or even your future plans. Keep the tone conversational and upbeat, as if you were speaking to the customer in person.
- Unless you operate a business that should avoid levity, some light-hearted humor can quickly lighten a customer’s mood while making the time spent on hold seem shorter.
- Whether you choose music, a message or a combination of both, the surest way to irritate a caller is through repetition. Calculate your longest wait time, then schedule music and/or multiple messages to fill that time without creating a loop. Remember, the wording, timing, length and tone of your on-hold music and messages are direct reflections of your brand.
Even small businesses find they can’t always handle the increase in call volume during peak shopping seasons. This is the time to consider outsourcing some of these calls to a third-party source. The extra help will benefit your business and bottom line by cutting wait times while still providing a high level of customer service. If you do choose to rely on your employees, ensure they have a thorough knowledge of your business or provide them with a detailed FAQ sheet so they can quickly and correctly provide the right answers to common concerns.
Why take the chance of losing sales or creating unhappy customers during your busiest times of the year?
Identify Peak Call Times
If you’ve been in business for a while, take the time to research your call records and use them to map out those times throughout the year when your experience high call volumes. If it happened last year, it will probably happen again this year. Use that information to schedule necessary staffing or outsourcing assistance. Proper planning can also help you craft a more effective on-hold message that entertains and informs callers about any deals you may be offering.
Establish an Escalation Call Process
One of the more frustrating reasons for increased call times are escalation calls. Even the most politely handled calls from unhappy or agitated customers can quickly escalate into a time-consuming event This holds up the queue and takes you or your store manager away from your duties. Make sure to assign this responsibility to one upper-level employee every day or shift to avoid confusion. It’s crucial to the customer’s satisfaction that the information is at hand and your staff follows a uniform process to handle these calls quickly and efficiently.
Use Professional Technology
Working with on-hold service professionals such as Retail Radio can help you tailor your message to each situation. For example, spreading a little holiday cheer can go a long way toward putting your customers into a more festive, relaxed and patient frame of mind. Treating them to seasonally-appropriate greetings, messages and music might just put a smile on some stressed faces.
Our user-friendly, proprietary software allows you to change your music and message as needed or record new audio using your scripts or ours with just a few mouse clicks.
Very few businesses have a constant, steady flow of activity throughout the year. No matter what services or products you offer to consumers, there will be spikes in call volume. Whether it’s increased customer inquiries due to a holiday, a promotion or seasonal activities, every successful business experiences periods of high call volume. The trick is handling the increase by ensuring your customers have the best on-hold experience you can provide.