If you ask 500 people what they would ideally like to hear on hold, you can guarantee some people would say ‘nothing, I don’t want to be on hold”. And that is, of course, a fair point! Customers wouldn’t need to be parked in an ideal world, waiting for the next available agent to talk to. But being on hold is a fact of life. There will never be enough call centre seats to receive and resolve every customer query at once.
Definitely more expected with larger companies such as banks, insurance providers, or airlines, a cultural shift or external event outside of an organisation’s control can lead to a higher volume of calls to field on short notice (can you imagine the airlines the day the borders closed!).
So what kind of message does being put on hold send to your clients? Does it show them that you care for their time? You can train your customer service agents to be the greatest in the world, but if your customer spends 20 minutes getting increasingly frustrated at the repetitive on hold messages before they are connected, often their perception of your brand is irreversibly damaged.
Traditional offerings from on hold more often than not follow the same pattern. 60 seconds of bland elevator music, followed by a short pause. Then, a ‘Thank you for your patience, someone will be with you shortly’. And then the cycle begins again. Sometimes there may be a company advert thrown in there for good measure. This is expected, tolerated if not outright despised. If you are an essential service- say a bank, or a government department, the customer is captive to the system. However if your brand is not a monopoly, and there are accessible competitors available for your customers, oftentimes this can lead to early call drops and no-repeat patronage.
Why not use this time on hold to educate, engage and allow your customers to be delighted by the unfamiliar. Instead of the predictable, monotonous norm, allow your customers to listen to content items that interest them, like the news or weather. Many customers will be repeat callers, so let them be impressed when this content changes every day.
Have a catalogue you would like the customer to browse? Let them input their mobile number’s to have it delivered straight to their inbox. Instead of settling for monotonous music, give customers a wide range of genres to choose from, which they can change at any time. Keep your customers engaged- they are still waiting for your customer service agents to answer the phone, but the perceived wait time is noticeably shorter due to the customer’s brain working to process information.
Tailored on hold messages allow customers to feel valued within your business, even whilst waiting for service. Show them that you care for their patronage by not leaving them high and dry, frustrated by your lack of customer service. Being on hold with your company can send a positive message to your callers, so make sure you fully optimise that time and exceed expectations.