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Transforming The Customer Experience

How to Increase Caller Retention and Keep Customers On the Line

Posted May 18, 2017 10:00:00 AM

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You can’t sell to potential customers if they call your business and hang up. This important fact is why every business needs to make it a priority to increase caller retention. 

Why Does Caller Retention Matter?

Caller retention could be the difference between making a sale or pushing away a potential customer. That may seem like an overstatement, but the value and importance of keeping callers on the line should not be overlooked.

  • When callers hang up, 34% of them don’t call back (KissMetrics). If a poor customer calling experience causes callers to regularly hang up, a business is permanently losing about a third of their potential customers.
  • Businesses spend 94% of their marketing budgets getting customers to caller their business, but only 6% on what happens next (KissMetrics). Many marketers spend a lot of money getting potential customers interested in their business. Then, they fail to use a follow-through system that allows them to capture and convert the caller when they contact the business.
  • Customers still call businesses. Even in the digital age, when customers can find so much information online, many still prefer to call to get the information they need. Sixty percent (60%) of customers prefer phone over email (eConsultancy).
  • Callers spend more time on hold than you may realize. If you think that your business doesn’t need to invest in systems that increase caller retention, keep this stat in mind. Callers spend about 13 hours a year on hold (TalkTo). While that doesn’t necessarily mean that customers are spending a lot of time on hold at your business, it may indicate that you need to look into how much hold time customers are actually experiencing. It may be more time than you think.  

Keeping callers on the line is how you make a good first impression, help callers stay interested, and improve your opportunities for turning callers into customers, so you should always be focused on implementing strategies that increase caller retention.

How to Increase Caller Retention

To increase caller retention, you first need to know the things that will push customers off the phone. Consider the situations that cause callers to hang up, and then create systems that:

  • Don’t frustrate the caller. Annoying customers is one of the fastest ways to get them to hang up (and not call back).
  • Decrease the perceived wait time. When the wait feels shorter, callers will be less likely to hang up.
  • Don’t let the wait feel like a waste of time. By providing useful information, you can make the caller feel like waiting is not as much of a waste of time.
  • Direct calls to the right places. Getting callers to the right department the first time decreases frustration and speeds up call times.

To accomplish these goals and increase caller retention, use the following strategies, tactics, and tools.  

Never leave callers in silence.

Failing to use some sort of hold messaging system is the biggest mistake you can make. Callers do not like to wait in silence. In fact, they hang much quicker when left on hold with no music or messaging. A study from AT&T found that 60% of callers left on hold in silence hang up.  

Don’t repeat yourself.

Another way to quickly frustrate callers is to repeat the same message over and over again. When callers hear the same phrasing multiple times, it is not only annoying, it can also make the wait feel longer. When you write a script for your hold message, consider how long your average caller waits on hold, and write a series of messages that is double that amount of that time to ensure that callers don’t hear the same message multiple times.


Recommended Reading: 11 Ways Your Hold Message Annoys (and Sometimes Infuriates) Callers


Don’t force callers to repeat themselves.

Just as callers don’t want to hear you say the same message over and over, they don’t want to say the same thing over and over. To increase caller retention, use IVR prompts to collect information from callers and quickly route them to the right department or information.


Provide relevant information.

People call a business when they need additional information. They have a question and need an answer. So, make that information readily available to them. Use a hold messaging script that answers FAQs and directs caller to other resources that will help them find what they need, instead of waiting for an attendant. And, always make sure the information you share is highly relevant to customer need. When callers hear relevant information, 68% of them will stay on the line (KissMetrics).


Provide current information.

It can be easy to overlook the updates that are needed for on-hold messaging, but that isn’t an excuse for allowing outdated messages to continue to air. When you include timely information, such as promos, seasonal content, and event dates, set a schedule for updating those messages. When customers receive out-dated messages when calling your business, you could come across as less detail-oriented, trustworthy, and reliable.   


Make it easy on the ears.

The only thing worse than silence on the other end of a hold line is awful, poorly produced, hard-to-listen-to voice-overs and music. The answer to filling the dead air sound of being on hold isn’t connecting to any old message player or music recording. Your on hold music or messaging must be professionally produced, played at the right volume, and using the right branded voice to please caller's ears and keep them on the line. 

Ready to Increase Caller Retention at Your Business?

Now that you can see the value in increasing caller retention and how simple some of the strategies are for keeping callers on the line -- are you ready to improve the calling experience at your business?


Find out exactly what you need to make these changes and start keeping and converting callers using our free customer calling experience ebook.


The free guide will teach you how to write a script that will increase caller retention and increase revenue for your business. Download it now.

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