Put Yourself On Hold

Do you assume that all of your automated systems are always working properly because they're...well...automated? That could be a mistake.

Listen to the quick audio below to hear a short segment of an On Hold Marketing production I heard after calling a company recently. (I recorded the audio with a smart phone.)

The annoying three-second glitch you hear repeated itself about once a minute. And I was on hold for more than seven minutes!

If an employee of that company put himself on hold every now and then, problems like that could be fixed before irritating too many callers.


Check Your Systems

What about the forms and auto-replies on your website? Fill them out yourself once in a while to make sure they're being routed to the right staff member, and that you receive the proper emails or downloads in return.

How long has it been since you listened to all of your company's auto attendant messages? Is that telephony system directing callers to the wrong extensions or people who are no longer employees?

Review your automated systems regularly to make sure that they are:

  • Working properly and efficiently.
  • Making it easier for customers to conduct business with your company.
  • Consistent with your brand identity.

Get the Beep Off Your Telephone

Need another reason to use On Hold Marketing?

Consider this: our brains can't quite grasp the beeping sound that often replaces customized on hold content delivered by a human voice. That's according to Anthony McGovern, a New York-based freelance science and technology writer.

In this article, McGovern examines why most people are so irritated by the beeps that come from microwave ovens, trucks in reverse, and certain telephone systems. In addition to their high-pitched, monotone nature, those artificial sounds end abruptly.

In contrast, natural, more-nuanced sounds gradually fade in volume. McGovern explains that that's one factor our brains use to determine what made the sound. He writes that "the flat tone of a beep lacks that fadeaway, or any other small variations of a natural sound."

He then quotes researcher Michael Shutz by adding, "Flat tones are basically incompatible with the physical reality of the natural world."

What People Want to Hear

An unpublished study by Schutz showed that people react more positively to natural sounds.

Schutz displayed two different cell phones to study participants. Each phone played the same four tones when a call was missed. However, one phone generated flat, artificial tones, while the other phone used tones with a more natural decay. Almost 90% of the participants preferred the phone with the natural tones.

Don't Create a Negative Environment

Are you subjecting your callers to those annoying beeps while they're on hold? That tells your customers that you don't care a whole lot about that particular experience with your company. And because those monotone beeps are so irritating, they can actually lengthen your callers' perceived hold times.

Are you part of the mobile movement

A survey entitled "The Mobile Movement" looks at how we use our smartphones. The short answer is a lot - at home, at work, while consuming other media, and especially while shopping.

The findings should be a wake-up call to anyone who uses the web to sell a product or service.

The Google survey found that 74% of smartphone shoppers make a purchase as a result of using their smartphones to help with shopping, while 88% of those who look for local information on their smartphones take action within a day.

And there are these two figures from the survey that I found most fascinating. The important number here is 79:

79% of smartphone consumers use their phones to help with shopping, from comparing prices, finding more product info to locating a retailer, but 79% of businesses surveyed say they don’t have a mobile-optimized website.

That’s a huge disconnect from the people who are ready to buy from you. Would you have signage in your store that only 21% of your customers could see? Or print a marketing piece that nearly eight out of ten people can’t read? That’s what you’re doing when you ask smartphone users to use a website that’s designed for viewing on a computer monitor.

So, what can you do to reach these connected, active smartphone consumers? Here are a few suggestions:

1) Create a mobile version of your website that’s optimized for smartphone viewing. Focus on features that are useful to customers and elements that are likely to attract visitors from your search engine links.

2) Design your own smartphone application. It might combine the most-useful features of your website in a branded package with a great marketing platform that's also a useful tool for your customers.

Serving the smartphone audience should be a key part of your website design and marketing plan. Without it, the mobile movement might just leave you behind.