Have you ever been on hold over the telephone and had to listen to some awful classical music? The answer is yes because everyone has. Mark Williamson, Sales and Marketing Director at PHMG, explains how design engineers can turn ‘dead air’ created by hold time into a golden marketing opportunity.
The impact of the digital age has seen online presence become an increasing focus for businesses marketing efforts.
But engineering firms should not forget how effective the humble telephone can be as a primary method of communication with potential clients.
Research by PHMG discovered 42% of Brits would still rather have queries answered over the telephone rather than looking online, meaning careful consideration should still be given to the caller experience.
The telephone is still a main source of inbound leads. Granted a lot of information tends to be situated on a company’s website yet a large number of design engineering firms still tell potential customers to call for a bespoke quote.
If budgets aren’t being designated to what people hear when they call the business, it could create a detrimental experience and in turn, generate a lasting negative impression in the caller’s mind that will ultimately be difficult to shift. In fact, the same research found 73% of British consumers will never buy from a company again if their first phone call is not handled satisfactorily.
Developing best practice guidelines for call handling ensures employees deal with telephone customers in the correct manner. Speaking to them in a consistent, professional way not only avoids callers forging the wrong impression but also helps to convey the desired brand image and values.
Transform ‘dead air’
While establishing telephone procedures and shaping employee behaviour is a good starting point, it isn’t the only thing that should be considered.
Waiting on hold can prove problematic for businesses, especially when callers are left sat in an automated queue for a long period of times. However, there may be times when a customer needs to be transferred to another staff member who is a specialist in a certain sector or information is needed which isn’t to hand.
A study by PHMG of 3,630 UK companies discovered engineering firms put customers on hold for an average of 33.40s per call. Granted, this doesn’t seem like a long time but the typical television advertisement is slightly shorter and has enormous purchasing power.
64% of companies in the industry have also been found to leave callers listening to nothing but generic music while another 14% leave them in silence and 13% subject callers to repetitive beeps.
This ‘dead air’ created by generic music or silence not only conveys a message that the customer is not valued and will only reinforce any annoyance felt as a result of being made to wait on hold but it is also a waste of a key promotional space.
On-hold marketing – a bespoke voice and music solution played over the telephone – transforms this time into a golden opportunity to communicate key messages and provides an experience to keep callers engaged and entertained.
It works by complementing a company’s existing brand image and values through sound. However, unlike visual branding, it boosts customer service levels in the process by decreasing the perceived waiting time and reducing caller hang-ups.
For design engineering companies, brand-congruent on-hold messaging can be particularly effective in cross-selling and up-selling the organisation’s products and services.
For example, the messages could promote the firm’s specialism in a specific sector or its ability to do one-off jobs, something which the caller may not have known before telephoning the company about a different task.
Customers to engineering businesses want to know their work is in the hands of a trustworthy company. By promoting an organisation’s industry qualifications or its high-quality machinery and programmes via the messages, it helps enhance the company’s image as a professional operator and instils customers with reassurance.
If your business has an online quote service or perhaps an online portfolio of client case studies, the messaging could also direct callers to the company website to help boost traffic.
Given that design engineers are putting customers on hold for more than 30s per call, the telephone should be considered as a crucial element of both the customer service and marketing mix.
Employing a simple on-hold solution will enable a company to reap the business benefits and stand out as a professional, well-run organisation.