"Hello, can I put you on hold?” were the first curt words I was greeted with when calling into my son's pediatrician this morning.
Without actually allowing me to answer "yes or no", the receptionist clicked the hold button, her obvious best friend at work.
While no doubt this is phone etiquette at it's absolute worst, the nightmare continued with the hold message itself.
I could hear a voice, and maybe some music? But the volume was so low that I got nothing out of it. After 5 minutes of listening to a cryptic on hold message, I can assure you I was not satisfied with this experience.
So who's fault was this? The doctor's office surely isn't innocent, but it got me thinking - who is providing this message for them and why isn't it working properly?
Don't be my son's pediatrician office.
Instead, be courteous and think about what your callers might like to hear.
Follow this list of questions when scoping out on-hold companies in order to make the best impression on your clients and prospects.
1. Do they provide proactive and ongoing Tech Support?
A good on-hold company will call your phones periodically throughout the year and ask to be put on hold. Why? So they can check the volume of the message & music and ensure that the program is working properly. Oftentimes, on-hold players are disconnected in the phone room by a “phone guy” who doesn’t know what it is when installing new equipment or working on the phone system. If it is not working properly, the on-hold provider will troubleshoot the issue and determine a path forward to fix it.
2. Do they know about your particular phone system?
A good on-hold company will have at least one expert who knows about phone systems and how each one interacts with an on-hold player. Some phone systems don’t even need any on-hold equipment in order to play the call-waiting message & music.
3. Are you able to listen to their music selections before signing up?
Now this one is important because you certainly want to test out the selection of on-hold music to ensure there is something your customer audience will enjoy. Elevator music is not everybody’s cup of tea, so don’t assume great music is offered until you’ve heard for yourself.
4. How many voice talents do they work with, and are you able to pick which one(s) you like best?
Also, how many can you pick for your marketing message? There are hundreds of on-hold marketing companies out there, but how do you know if they are legit or a one-man show? Oftentimes, if you do a little digging, you may find out that the “great deal” you got on your on-hold messaging program was because the owner of the company is the only voice talent available to you. Having options comes at a price. So if the cost seems really low compared to other prices you’ve seen in the market, chances are you’re dealing with a one-man show operation.
5. Do they offer professional writers to create your custom business script, or do they use a generic fill-in-the blank message template?
A talented script-writer’s business is to make your business look good. Without one, your message can end up sounding…. boring and nonspecific, and quite useless to the customer. A professional writer will do their best to learn about your company and what makes it unique, and then communicate that in an effective way.
6. Can they show you sample demos of other on-hold messages in your industry?
A sample demo can tell you a lot. Listen to at least 3 demos at minimum before committing to an on-hold marketing company. Listen for the quality of sound and creativity.
7. Do they have customer service representatives always available to take your call during regular business hours?
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to get something done, but the person you need won’t answer the phone. Heck, they won’t even call you back. This is another tell-tale sign that a one-man (or woman) operation is in place. It is really hard to service accounts if you’re the only one running the show.
8. How long have they been in business?
I don’t know about you, but I’m always a bit hesitant to work with someone who just started a business. Look, there is nothing inherently wrong with choosing a company that just got started, but you know the risks. Businesses are most vulnerable in their first year of operation, and unfortunately, their doors may not be open next year. If you need an ongoing on-hold marketing program, then going with a startup may not be the answer.
9. Are they a part of the On Hold Messaging Association (OHMA)?
Yes, believe it or not, there is an actual association of on-hold providers. Verify the provider you want to work with is a part of that association, which has set standard qualifications for joining the group.
As goes with anything, doing your research leads to quality and ultimately satisfaction – for you and for your customers. Have fun!