Thursday, October 17, 2013

Do You Hold Your Customers Hostage?

Did you consider your customers when you chose and installed your telephone system? Or did you just purchase the cheapest system you could find and then forgot about it? If you didn’t involve your marketing team, you may be holding your customers hostage without even realizing it.

When customers call your business, they may be lucky and reach a live person. But the likelihood of that is getting smaller and smaller in today’s technological and social era. There is more likelihood of getting lost in a flurry of customer service passes, or even worse, voice-mail hell.

Do your customers get stuck with silence, or do they get to listen to loud music? Even worse, do they have to listen to the same female voice interrupting the annoying music every 30 seconds, “You are now number (fill in the blank) in the queue. We will be with you shortly.”

If your business phone system is guilty of any of the above, it’s time to switch strategies and implement a better form of phone communication with your customers.

When someone contacts your business, the reason is most likely the result of a problem or complaint. While most realize they may not reach a live person, they want to know that they are a valued customer. So if they need to remain on hold, they want their time to be spent productively. And while customers can use email, texting, online chats, Tweets, Facebook posts, etc., the easiest form of communication is still the phone call.

Therefore, it’s YOUR responsibility to add value. This can be done in many ways:

[1] Feature your company President – tape a few different 30-second promos.
[2] Tape a 30-second promo that discusses the key attributes of your brand.
[3] Tape a 30-second promo that explains the key features of your products or services.
[4] Tape a 30-second promo that lists upcoming events (tradeshows, seminars, webinars).
[5] Tape a 30-second promo: For more information, visit our website at (insert your URL).

But above all, no matter what your business eventually says in your improved on hold messages, make sure to also include this message: We realize your time is valuable and thank you for waiting – and we also thank you for your business.

Image Credit: Winnond via

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

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