Connect

Your company's average hold times may be pretty short.

But what about those instances when you keep callers on hold longer?

I called a national office supply chain store earlier today, and was put on hold for six minutes.

It wasn't the length of the hold that bothered me. It was how this huge company had clearly not thought about their callers who hold for longer than 30 seconds.

Here's what I heard: "Thank you for your patience. We apologize for the delay. Your call will be answered momentarily." A slow, schmaltzy piano tune played for half a minute. Then, the same message and the same 30 seconds of music repeated. ELEVEN TIMES!

Not only was the repetitious audio irritating, it was a waste of my time, and a wasted opportunity for the company. Their single message delivered no useful information. It didn't provide insight about products or services. There were no helpful tips. No advice on how I could save money with them. Nothing about any added value they offer.

And the company threw away a six-minute connection with a customer. Not only did they miss the chance to build stronger ties with me, they forced me into an annoying, negative environment.

No matter how short you think your hold times are (and they're probably longer than you'd like to think), why risk wasting that kind of opportunity? Even if your hold times actually are short, your frequent callers are sure to be alienated by On Hold Marketing that isn't designed with their experience in mind.

Every touchpoint is a chance to build love and loyalty for your brand. Take full advantage of it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Phone Skills

This really happened. And even though this one instance may not seem like a big deal, consider the cumulative effect.

One of our Creative Consultants, Jessica, called a medium-sized medical facility just to ask if they provide a particular service.

After replying with a curt "Hold on," the receptionist transferred Jessica to a doctor's extension. Yes, a doctor.

But the doctor wasn't available, so after her voicemail message began playing, Jessica hung up, without the answer she needed.

How Many Mistakes Did You Count During That Brief Encounter?

Here's what we noticed, and why you may want to handle your incoming calls a bit differently.

1) The receptionist's reply of "hold on" was simply inexcusable. It was rude, dismissive, and showed no regard for Jessica's value as a potential customer. When you need to transfer a caller to another person, let the caller know why and to whom she'll be speaking. Then, ask the caller for permission to make the transfer.

2) The receptionist could not answer a basic question about her company's services. As a result, she had to forward the call to a doctor, someone whose time is far better spent with other matters. And if the receptionist knows the services the facility offers, she might be able to schedule appointments on the spot, ensuring that callers don't take their business elsewhere. 

3) Because Jessica didn't get the answer she needed, she had to call another provider. The first facility she called lost her business - maybe forever - all because of a mismanaged phone call.

Don't you wonder how many times each day that receptionist alienates callers? Interrupts doctors? Loses a potential lifelong revenue stream? And just as scary: management may never even realize how much she's costing the company. 

Starting to see the huge negative impact poor phone skills and manners can have on a business? 

You may spend a lot of marketing money to get people to call. Don't let any interest in your brand be destroyed by careless or unskilled employees who are manning your telephones.

Read about our TelArt CD, or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details on a more in-depth, on-site telephone skills training program.

Music

Many businesses rely on music as an on-site branding tool or to set a specific mood for their customers. Because of its unique value, music is protected by copyright laws. Most music can only be played publicly with a proper license.

You Have Options

As a business owner or manager, you can pay for a service that provides music, in which case, the provider is responsible for maintaining the license.

Another choice is to license music from a company that owns a music library.

A third, but unlikely, option is to negotiate separate licenses with the copyright owners for each piece of music you play.

Whichever path you prefer, it's important that you choose one if you want to use recorded or live music in your company's public areas.

The Bad News

There are severe penalties for copyright infringement. They can include a civil suit in federal court, damages of up to $20,000 for each copyrighted song played, and legal fees. Criminal charges can be brought against those who willingly use copyrighted music without a license. Penalties include a fine of up to $25,000 and/or up to one year in prison.

If you would like fully licensed music for your lobby, restaurant, retail environment, telephone system, or any other application, talk with your BusinessVoice Account Executive or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at +1 800.473.9005.

Telephone Skills Training

Seth Godin is one of the most popular and respected marketing bloggers on the planet. Here's a dose of his common sense applied to the subject of your callers and the person who may be responsible for creating their first impression of your business.

"...When a homeowner decides to put his house on sale and calls a broker...When he calls the moving company...When a family arrives in town and calls someone recommended as the family doctor...When a wealthy couple calls their favorite fancy restaurant looking for a reservation...Go down the list. Stockbrokers, even hairdressers. And not just people who recently moved. When a new referral shows up, all that work and expense, and then the phone rings and it gets answered by your annoyed, overworked, burned out, never-very-good-at-it-anyway receptionist, it all falls apart. What is the doctor thinking when she allows her neither pleasant nor interested-in-new-patients receptionist to answer the phone?"

Given what's at stake each time your phone rings, this is a question worth asking yourself: "Could our staff use a refresher course on telephone skills and etiquette?"

Click here to learn about TelArt, a 35-minute CD that teaches your staff how to treat callers like the valuable customers or prospects they are. It may be the best $39 you ever spend.

Using Co-op Dollars for Your On Hold Marketing

Yes, On Hold Marketing helps you sell more products or services and makes it easier to build stronger long-term relationships with customers. But, this blog post is about generating immediate revenue from your On Hold Marketing (OHM) program itself.

One Company's Approach

Based in Columbia, South Carolina, Merritt Veterinary Supplies has been a BusinessVoice client since 2003. Tara Haltiwanger is the company's Marketing Manager and in charge of Merritt's OHM program.

Since she first started using our services, Tara has pursued vendor co-op dollars to cover the cost of Merritt's On Hold Marketing.

"When I began the marketing department for Merritt Vet, I added co-sponsorship programs to our print publications and On Hold Marketing program," wrote Tara. "Most companies in our industry expect it now. They either sign up for the year or they don't. If one of our suppliers doesn't renew, I open up the OHM space to other vendors. Most stick with the program as a means of low-cost advertising."





Here's How it Works

Merritt uses its On Hold Marketing to promote specific veterinary medicines and products. They charge between 8 and 10 participating vendors $450 each annually. That investment entitles every vendor to one message on each of Merritt's bi-monthly OHM productions. Participants enjoy one full year of exposure to a targeted audience that's calling Merritt Vet ready to buy.

By the way, the production updates are timed with the release of Merritt's sales flyers in order to reinforce the printed content.

Ready to Try It Yourself?

We love Tara's initiative. And we want to encourage you to consider a similar co-op program. In fact, we'll help you get started.

We can provide digital sell sheets that explain the cost-effective benefits of On Hold Marketing. We'll even brand them with your company logo and contact information. Then, just send them to your vendors and partners to begin building a co-op program that could easily pay for your On Hold Marketing program. You may even be able to turn your OHM into a profit center!

For more details on other ways we can help, talk with your BusinessVoice Account Manager. If you're not yet a BusinessVoice client, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +1 800.473.9005.

Closed for the Holidays

Here's a reminder that's especially appropriate for the holiday season: Don't make your callers guess why your office or store is closed.

The Problem

A co-worker emailed this story to me on the Friday after Thanksgiving. "I called a company today and their office was closed, presumably for the holiday," she wrote. "But their phone system sent me immediately to the receptionist's voicemail, which made no mention of why they were closed, when they'd re-open, or when they might return my call."

She added that "the voicemail message didn't include the name of the company either, so I could have easily thought I had called the wrong number, and then tried to call again."

Don't frustrate your callers that way. Provide a great caller experience instead.



The Solution

If you'll be closed for a holiday, scheduled downtime, inventory, or any other reason, make sure your call processing announcements / call center recordings give callers all the information they'll need, including an alternate number they can call in the event of an emergency.

It's certainly not the best option, but if your telephone system sends callers to an individual's voicemail when your company is closed, please make sure that person updates the outgoing message as often as necessary to prevent caller confusion.

You may even want to use your website, social media or email to proactively inform customers when you'll be closed.

Talk with us about other solutions. Call +1 800.473.9005 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..