Simon Sinek Says

Simon Sinek is an author and speaker known for his popular TED Talks and his many best-selling books, including “Start With Why.”

His personal “why” is “to inspire people to do the things that inspire them so that, together, each of us can change our world for the better.”

In his December 10, 2021 Facebook Live Q&A session, Sinek addressed a question about helping people feel heard and understood when communicating virtually.

“In-person [communication] is always great," he said, "but I actually think the phone is better than Zoom.”

One reason: “When we’re [on| Zoom, we fake eye contact. I’m staring down the barrel of [this] camera right now. To you, it feels like I’m looking right at you. To me, it’s sort of impersonal.”

He also noted the problem of Zoom burnout, and that it can be tough to focus when there are lots of people on a screen, especially when it’s clear some of them are multi-tasking while on the call.

Phone calls can also be much more intimate since your voice is so close to the other person’s ear.

“I think picking up the phone is actually pretty great. We’re more present on the phone. You can do a good job of hearing tone of voice and you can be really close with them. So, I’m a huge fan of the telephone.”

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Butterball Turkey Talk Line

How can I keep it moist?

Am I supposed to stuff it?

What do I do with these giblets?

Those are just a few of the questions that the experts at the Butterball Turkey Talk Line address each November and December. During the two-month holiday season, the operators - based in Naperville, Illinois - assist about 100,000 callers with their turkey-related quandaries.

The free service began in 1981 with just six home economists answering 11,000 calls that first year. Throughout the pre-Internet ‘80s, the Turkey Talk Line grew in popularity until it became an annual tradition that turkey cookers all over the country came to depend on. It provided convenient answers - in a warm, friendly way - when people needed them most.

In recent years, Butterball has adapted to handle questions from more channels: email, text, Facebook and Twitter. But the phone lines are still there, allowing people to have a person-to-person, voice-to-voice conversation.

It’s proof that many people still want a traditional, lower-tech approach to service. And it may be a reason to reconsider how your company approaches customer care.

Are you purposely “hiding” behind a website or an app? Would your customers value the personal attention that comes from a caring, well-trained phone staff? Think of the long-term goodwill that type of connection could create, as well as the valuable feedback you'd collect and the other customer needs you might uncover.

Oh, and if you have a question about your bird, call the Butterball Turkey Talk Line at 1-800-288-8372.

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B2B Podcast Tips

I read recently that the majority of podcast listening occurs during the mid-day hours, between 10am and 3pm. That suggests that a lot of people are engaged with the content while at work.

If that’s the case, delivering concise value is even more important for growing your B2B podcast audience. Your listeners - especially those on the job - should feel that your content is consistently worth the investment of their time.

So, use your podcast to quickly give listeners information they can apply to get better at their work or make their companies more effective and profitable.

Consider establishing a format with repeatable features. For instance:

  • A 1-minute segment on industry news
  • A 2-minute spotlight on a new product or feature
  • A 2-minute client success story
  • A 5 to 10-minute conversation with a guest who can deliver concise information

That approach can make content creation a little easier for you since you're "only" filling in the blanks, rather than generating completely new categories of ideas for each episode.

Of course, you also should be willing to introduce new features and cut those that may not be working so well.

After each episode is produced, record an audible “upfront agreement” for the opening segment of the podcast. That’s a quick overview of the specific subjects you’ll be covering.

Then, add a table of contents to the written description of each episode. Include a bulleted list of times at which each feature begins so your busy listeners can jump quickly to those elements.

One of the most thoughtful things you can do for your at-work audience is delivering unique insight and useful takeaways in a manner that respects their time. 

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Are You Missing an Opportunity

We call random companies out of the blue just about every day to check on their caller experience, and we’re often amazed by what we hear. Or don’t hear.

A surprisingly high number of large national brands - names you’d know - subject their callers on hold to nothing but silence.

…Or the same 30-to-60-second loop of music, interrupted by a single generic message over and over.

…Or the canned music and messaging that came installed with their phone system.

That lack of care and attention speaks volumes to callers on hold. It says to them that the company they’re calling doesn’t value their time. It says they haven’t thoughtfully considered this touchpoint or that they don’t think it’s worth worrying about.

Instead of using the on hold environment to provide concise, useful information that benefits their callers, those companies must believe that the phrase “your call is important to us” repeated with a minute of looping music is “good enough.”

Of course, callers are left to wonder, “how important could my call actually be if it’s handled like this?”

So, regardless of your company’s size or how well-known your brand is, ask yourself if you’re missing an opportunity. No matter how short or infrequent you think your hold times might be, are you missing the chance to treat your valuable callers - each one a current or potential customer - to a better, more unique branded experience?

We’re ready to talk about all the possibilities. In the meantime, you’re sure to find inspiration in the stories and audio on our On Hold Marketing of the Month page.

Man Listening to the BusinessVoice Spotify Playlist

We were surprised recently when we learned how many songs feature titles and lyrics related to telephones, calling or holding.

There are so many, in fact, that we could easily put together a Spotify playlist to showcase them and still just scratch the surface. So, that's what we did. Find the music here.

Of course, the words "hold" and "holding" have meaning beyond the holding you might experience after calling a business, but a few of the songs refer to a similar type of wait or not being able to reach a certain person at all, such as Blondie's "Hanging on the Telephone," and ELO's "Telephone Line."

The importance of connecting by phone has deep roots throughout our culture. The proof is in 1) the range of artists that use the telephone as a vehicle to tell their stories and 2) how long they've been doing it.

In our list alone, the musical genres range from pop, new wave and country to southern rock, blues, electronic and classic rock.

And the release dates span more than five decades. The oldest song in the playlist, Sam & Dave's Stax classic "Hold On! I'm Comin,'" was produced in 1966. "On Hold" by The xx is the newest recording. It came out in 2017.

We hope you enjoy listening.

Your Callers Need to Laugh

“Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?”

That was a 2018 survey question The Gallup Organization asked people in more than 140 countries. Most respondents in their teens through early 20s replied “yes.” But, for the majority of those 23 and older, the answer was “no.”

According to the results, people are much less likely to laugh - especially at work - between the ages of 23 and 70.

“Humor can diffuse tension and bring us together like nothing else,” said Shankar Vedantam, host of the radio show / podcast Hidden Brain. “And yet, [it’s] often missing in many parts of our lives.”

In the episode entitled “Humor Us,” Vedantam talks with Jennifer Aaker, a Behavioral Scientist and Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business. And because she’s not quite busy enough, she authored the book, “Humor, Seriously: Why Humor Is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life.”

“Humor is completely under-leveraged at work,” said Professor Aaker, noting that people who apply it on the job are seen as more competent and confident. Humor can be used to create “a more inclusive environment, where you feel like you’re on the same team. It shortens the distance between people.”

“Once you’ve laughed with someone it feels like you’ve bonded with them,” said Vedantam. Aaker agreed, adding that feeling can have a positive impact on the relationship for years.

She said, “Humor allows you to interact with someone in a way that cultivates trust.” In fact, just tossing in a humorous line at the end of a sales presentation has been shown to boost a customer’s willingness to buy by 18%.

“Many of us think we need to be serious in order to be taken seriously,” said Vedantam. “But researchers are finding that humor is a powerful way to unlock creativity and productivity.”

Laughter releases endorphins and the feel-good hormone oxytocin, and produces a sense of calm by reducing cortisol. With all those positive chemical changes in the brain, laughing “is like exercising, meditating and having sex all at the same time,” according to Vedantam.

He also pointed out that humor can be used as an educational tool. “[It] allows the message to get in, in a way that’s very sticky.” That’s why it can be an ideal delivery vehicle for marketing content.

And that’s one of the reasons our Humor On Hold is so effective. That humorous “spoonful of sugar” helps the “marketing medicine” go down.

So many people - including your callers - are working from home these days and may not have the opportunity to interact with co-workers in a fun way. They need laughter more than ever. By converting the negative of holding into a pleasant surprise, Humor On Hold can be an unexpected bright spot for your customers. We can apply a humorous approach to your other marketing channels, too, including your website, online videos and social media.

As we’ve said many times, humor is a great gift you can give to your callers. A line from Professor Aaker’s book echoes that sentiment: “When humor exists love is not far behind.”

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