The 8020 Rule

Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? It’s better known as the 80/20 rule.

One version of it states that 80% of an outcome results from 20% of the effort invested. Another take: 80% of your company’s revenue comes from 20% of your customers.

We can also apply an 80/20 rule to On Hold Marketing: 80% of your content should be non-promotional in nature. We call it news you can use - information that’s not necessarily related directly to what you sell, but is relevant to your callers. (Listen to examples here and here.)

That 80% of your On Hold Marketing copy comes from putting your customers’ wants and needs first. By using this telephone touchpoint to prove that you have your callers’ best interests at heart, you can strengthen your relationships with them.

Promote your business with the other 20% of your messages, but make sure that content is still focused on your callers and their needs.

People will recognize genuine value in your On Hold Marketing and your other marketing channels. And when they see and hear it, they’ll have even more reason to do business with you.

Caller Experience

“We don't put callers on hold.”

“Our callers only hold for a few seconds.”

Over the last 30 years, we've heard those phrases hundreds of times from business owners and marketing directors.

Jeff Bezos heard a version of them, too.

Amazon's former VP of Customer Service told CEO Bezos that their company kept callers on hold for “less than a minute.” Skeptical, Bezos put his VP's claim to the test. During a meeting of Amazon's top executives, he picked up the phone and called the customer service number.

Bezos was on hold for four-and-a-half minutes, fuming.

As a business owner or manager you want to believe that your company provides a consistently excellent caller experience, one that includes brief or even non-existent hold times. But there can easily be a big difference between what you assume (and hope) your callers experience and what they actually do. That's why caller experience audits are so valuable.

Still Not Using On Hold Marketing?

Leaving callers on hold for several minutes is never ideal, but your callers will perceive that wait to be even longer if they're holding in silence or listening to repetitive content that's not designed with their needs in mind. 

Even worse for you, imagine if your callers had a negative experience after responding to a phone number you listed in a promotional email or as part of your new TV campaign. Paying for the privilege of alienating potential customers is never a sustainable strategy. To prevent that problem, though, direct those callers to a phone number or call center group that exists specifically to handle calls related to that promotion. Focus on answering those calls immediately, placing them on hold only if necessary and then only very briefly.

Whether you're concerned about long hold times, caller abandonment, your outdated or complicated phone tree, CSR telephone training or any other aspect of the caller experience, let us know.

On Hold Marketing Content

In case you don’t believe the average American’s attention span is shrinking, take a look at the video in this post. It’s a nearly 10-minute instructional film on how to dial a phone.

Sure, using a telephone may still have been a newer concept for some people in the 1950s, but can you imagine watching slow-paced, rudimentary video tutorials like this today?

I find everything about the piece charming, from the spokeswoman’s delivery style to the script to the giant phone. But, when crafting On Hold Marketing content, we’re always aware that we need to present tightly focused ideas and benefits.

One reason: we never know how long each of your callers will be on hold. So, the quicker we can deliver complete ideas to them, the more likely they’ll be to hear all the information.

Also, the people of 1954 weren’t exposed to the volume of messages that today’s audiences are. So, to make it easier for callers to retain your most important points, we work to keep your On Hold Marketing content concise and customer-focused.

Turning Callers Into Customers

During this webinar, I talked to members of the auto care industry (tire dealers and service center owners). The subject: creating great caller experiences, especially for female customers.

The webinar was presented through, an online resource for women and the provider of the Certified Female-Friendly training program for auto-related retailers.

While the content is geared toward owners and managers of car care companies, many of the thoughts are applicable to any type of business whose customers call.

Watch the 30-minute video to learn why creating excellent caller experiences is worthy of your effort, and pick up a few tips on how to do it consistently for your valuable callers and the success of your business.

Learn more about our Caller Experience Audits and our Telephone Skills Training.

Your Telephones

When the telephone was invented in 1876, there weren’t many other communication options; the telegraph and hand-written letters were about it.

Today, we can reach out to people in many ways, including email, texts, social media, even online video chat.

With all that convenient technology at your fingertips, it may be easy to dismiss the old, reliable telephone as a point of contact for your business.

But don’t.

Your company’s telephones are a channel you can use to create and maintain meaningful relationships, from those initial cold calls you may make to attract new customers, to the warm, affectionate conversations you have with long-time clients and partners.

Your telephones give you the chance to reinforce your brand and strengthen your reputation with every call.

They allow you to hear the concern in a customer’s voice, and enthusiastically share exciting news and good information.

And your company’s phones connect you to all the people who are important to your business on a more human level than any email or text ever could.

So, always know that the caller experience you provide is worthy of your best effort. From the moment an inbound call is answered - whether by a live operator or a pre-recorded contact center announcement - to the time your callers spend on hold, to the one-on-one interaction your team has with customers, each call is an opportunity to deliver value and the type of positive encounter that people remember fondly and tell others about.

Upfront Agreements

Does this sound familiar?

A young man you’ve never spoken to before calls you at work. After a quick introduction, he launches into the reason for his call, and it soon becomes obvious that he’s not the least bit concerned about what you want or having interrupted your workday.

Permission-based email marketing has been standard for years now, but many companies have not applied the same thoughtful concept of asking for permission to their outbound calling.

If your telephone sales strategy is “talk as quickly as possible so the prospect doesn’t have time to object to the call,” you may want to 1) re-examine the value you claim to provide, and 2) consider the negative experience you’re creating and how that may immediately turn off the people you’re trying to convert into customers.

Before we begin an on-site or telephone meeting in our offices, we open with what we call an upfront agreement. The person running the meeting reminds the attendees why we’ve come together, how long the meeting will take, and what we hope to achieve during our time together. Anyone who has their own goals for the meeting can add them to the agenda at that time.

Upfront agreements are a courtesy you can also extend any time you’re cold calling an existing or potential customer.

Don’t steamroll the people you call. Find ways to pique their interest legitimately, and build a relationship based on mutual interest and - at the very least - basic respect. Your polite and considerate approach will make you all the more memorable.