There are several problems with using a radio station during a callers hold time, but let’s start with the biggest problem, using a radio for music on hold is illegal, that’s because radio broadcasts are subject to copyright laws, and if you’re caught the fines can be very expensive. Also, think about this, the moment you say, “Please hold” and press the hold button, you have the caller’s undivided attention. Do you really want your on hold service playing a competitor’s commercial? That would be like personally inviting your competitor into your office and letting them talk directly to your customers! Another problem with using a radio station during hold time is that the messages heard by your customers may contain inappropriate or offensive content. Why take the risks, it’s simply not worth it?
Let’s think about your customer’s hold time for a minute. While music on hold is nice and much better than silence, there’s a better alternative. Remember, when you place callers on hold, you’ve got their undivided attention; why not use the opportunity to tell them something wonderful about your company? Instead of just playing music on hold you can insert professionally produced messages and leverage that “captive” audience by turning hold time into a customer education. Experience shows that many companies view hold time as a problem. It is true that excessive hold time should be avoided. However, necessary hold time should be viewed as a marketing or educational opportunity.
All companies have hold time. However, many don’t understand or they underestimate the value of hold time. Playing music is okay if you simply want to entertain the caller. However, integrating messages turns hold time into a powerful communications tool. Use messages to up-sell or cross-sell. In other words, tell callers about products or services they may not know you provide. You could use on hold messages to drive traffic to your website or provide directions to your facility! Use your messages to promote new products or inform callers of current specials! Your customer hold time should be put to work. It should be more than just entertainment. Take advantage of your captive audience and turn hold time into valuable customer education by inserting On Hold Messages!
Let’s start with your phone system. Most “Business Phone Systems” support music on hold in one of two ways. The system either requires the addition of a digital player or it will use a computer file such as a WAV or MP3 file. If your phone system requires a player you will typically connect it using a standard RCA cable. However, some phone systems will require wiring to what is called a “Punch Down” block and in those instances you’ll want to contact your phone vendor to make the connection. If your system uses a computer file, you simply download the file to your phone system. In some cases you may have to contact your vendor to obtain download instructions. Now let’s talk about updating or changing your messages. If your phone system allows the use of a computer file the updates are generally emailed to you and in turn download to your phone system. If your service is provided using a digital player then your updates may come as a tape, a CD, or a file copied to a USB stick depending on the type of player provided. I would suggest that you talk with your provider about your particular needs.
While at first this sounds like a good way to save a few dollars and eliminate the cost of your on hold service, experience tells us that it typically proves to be a very frustrating and time consuming endeavor. Let’s just take a minute to walk through the process. First, you’ll have to write the content (or script), then you’ll need to record it (or voice it). And then there’s editing and adding music to the production (or engineering it as we say in the industry). Also, it’s important to remember that the music you use must be licensed. Once completed you’ll need to get the production connected to your phone system, which means you’ll have to go through the process of choosing, purchasing and installing a digital player. Now some will say, “My phone system doesn’t need a player; I just have to load a WAV file”. In that case you’ll need some time to work with your phone vendor to determine the proper format for the WAV file as not all phone systems use the same file format, then you’ll need to upload the file. Now that you have a little more information, I think you’ll agree that creating your own OHM program is not as simple as it may seem. In the long run you will likely spend more money and end up with something less than professional. Think about this, each time you place a call on hold your messages speak directly to your customers. What will they think of your messages?
Let’s face it, we’re all busy and most likely don’t have the time or training to be a creative writer. Besides, doing it yourself doesn’t mean it’s free, there’s a real cost to using your own time. The benefits of On Hold Messages are real and can have a big impact, but only if your content is properly written! My advice, unless you’re a creative writer, don’t try to do this yourself. If your current provider has you writing your own content, I would suggest looking for a new provider. One with a staff who will take the time to discover what makes your company special, a provider who will learn about your products and services and then turn that information into valuable content that is fun, informative and most importantly turns your hold time into a powerful communications tool. One last thing, ask your provider about helping with content for your company’s social media sites, websites and company newsletters.
Before I answer that question let me first say, if you’re playing just music on hold you’re missing the boat! Let’s answer the question and then we’ll come back and explain how you could be left standing at the shore while your customers are sailing off with one of your competitors. With regard to the music selection there’s really no right or wrong. It’s important to know your audience and in this case the audience is your customers on hold. For example, does your company cater to a particular age group or geographic region? Are your products and services related to something exciting such as sports or vacation travel or are they more commercial or corporate in nature? In addition, your music should complement your corporate image. Now let’s get back to you, standing at the dock all alone having just missed the boat. When you place your customers on hold you have a captive audience, you’ve got their undivided attention. Why not take advantage of the opportunity and tell them about what makes your company the best choice? Use the time to upsell or cross-sell by informing them of products and services they might not be aware of. Or, drive traffic to your website by telling callers about the valuable information and discount offers available online. A great deal of time and money is spent getting customers to call, so don’t stop talking to them once they are on hold. Use that valuable time to tell them why they should be sailing with you!
Here we’re referring to the individual messages or “marketing spots” used within an On Hold Message production. This is a great question because the number spots and the length of each spot are important to the ultimate success of your on hold program. The proper mix of messages and music is important to ensure your message is not only heard but remembered. Too many messages and you risk “information overload”, too few and you lose valuable marketing time and callers tend to drift into daydreaming. Experience has shown that good productions should be approximately 6 minutes in length and contain between 4 to 6 messages (marketing spots), with each lasting 25 to 30 seconds. The key is creating messages that are well written and memorable and then properly spacing them within the music bed. The intent is to give the caller something to think about followed by time to let what they just heard “sink in” before delivering the next bit of information.
The good news is the answer is almost always yes. Most of today’s business phone systems will support the service. There are a few exceptions such as those companies who utilize “one line phones” or “wireless handsets” which typically don’t have hold buttons. Many newer phone systems allow users to simply load a WAV or MP3 file into the system and it’s ready to go, and no additional equipment is necessary. Other systems require the addition of an inexpensive digital player. The players come in a variety of models including tape, CD, USB and network based players. USB based players allow customers to receive updates via email. A word of caution is wise here. If you’re thinking about supplying your own CD or MP3 player you should know that music played on hold is considered a “broadcast” and therefore subject to copyright laws. If you were to be caught playing copyrighted music without proper licensing you could be hit with expensive fines.
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