4 Common On Hold Messaging Clichés that Waste Your Callers’ Time
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
Believe us when we say writing copy presents challenges – sometimes it feels impossible; copywriters frequently find themselves tempted to reach into our bag of old clichés and placeholder phrases and cobble a passable message together. Resist that temptation! Lazy advertising makes for fewer sales because it relies too much on your customers to motivate themselves. Your On Hold Messaging should motivate them! Here’s some tips on turning those complete wastes of time into messaging that actually benefits your business!
1. How Long You’ve Been Around
“Our company has been serving this community for 45 years”… “we have 150 years collective experience”… “When we first opened 80 years ago”.
These messages make up some of the most popular that you’ll hear on hold – everybody wants to remind their customers how long they’ve been around. You’re proud of it – and you should be! Only 7 percent of all the small businesses around today have been in business more than 20 years. There’s just one problem… most of your customers probably don’t care. They’re not calling you because they’re interested in you, they call you because they’re interested in themselves – their needs, their projects, their desires. You serve a purpose to them, your business is a means to their end.
The Better Alternative: When you talk about how long you’ve been around, most of the time you focus on the means, not the end. Instead of “serving this community for 75 years”, how about “we’ve seen a lot of good widgets and bad widgets since we opened our doors in 1945 – and we want to help you tell the difference too”. That switches the focus to your customer’s goal – getting what they want, and getting the best version of what they want.
2. Your Friendly, Professional Staff
“Our friendly, professional staff can help you in just a moment”
As opposed to your rude, crass staff, who you keep hidden in the back room? Having a friendly, professional staff is kind of like bathing: reminding people that you do it sounds more suspicious than reassuring. It should be taken for granted. Besides, if you don’t have a friendly, professional staff, you probably don’t much care about your on hold messaging, meaning you wouldn’t be reading this.
The Better Alternative: Instead of sticking to the generic and universal, provide your callers with a look at what you alone have to offer. “Be sure to ask us what the best tool is for your next project,” “we are here to answer your questions about pet behavior, so ask us today!” … whatever it is that you sell, make sure your customers know you have more than just a smiling face behind your counter. They need to know that your staff can give specific answers to specific questions (unlike those other guys… but that part is implied).
3. Your Contact Information/ “Call Us”
“Located at 444 South Doe Road, City, State, Zip Code” “Just call our number – 888-888-8888”
We don’t want to say it’s not necessary to let your customers know where to find you… after all, if they remembered all of that, they wouldn’t need to be reminded what you sell. Still, there are better ways to do this than to assume they’re standing at the ready to punch your coordinates into their GPS.
Far worse than giving them GPS coordinates, though, is telling them your phone number while they’re on the phone with you. You’re not wrong to assume many of your callers already have their credit cards available, prepared to make a purchase. What you won’t find them doing, though, is waiting with pen and paper preparing to record the number they just dialed for posterity.
The Better Alternative: Instead of giving your address—something anyone can find in a quick Google search—why not help people find you. “You can find us across the street from Fingerless Joe’s Fireworks” or “look for the big blue sign behind the Save-a-Lot”… providing landmarks helps people when they’re driving, so they don’t get frustrated when Google maps or their off-market GPS makes the mistake of sending them three blocks up from your front door.
While we’re at it, why not, instead of your phone number, give them other ways to reach you or learn more about you? Tell them to seek you out on social media, and make sure they know what sites you use. Give them your website (keep it simple), and tell them what they can find there (especially if they can place orders or look up information they might ask over the phone).
4. Reminding them They’re On Hold
Why do you have On Hold Messaging? Mostly, because you want to make your wait times seem smaller so you can turn callers into customers and customers into repeat customers. So why waste breath reminding them where they are or what they’re doing? “Thank you for holding” “hold a little longer” or the absolute worst “we know our hold times can be long” – these phrases do nothing but hobble your efforts to overcome the natural desire of your caller to hang up.
The Better Alternative: Instead of wasting your time and your callers’ time, remind them what they can expect when you pick up the line – “we stand eager to serve you”, “we can’t wait to tell you about x, y, and z”, “be sure to ask the next person you speak with about…”. This distracts them from waiting and turns their focus to buying, and plants ideas about your quality as a business, the products you offer, or the ways you can serve them.
And Remember: You will find On Hold Marketing at its most effective when you incorporated it into an overall marketing strategy – don’t let it stand alone, just like you don’t let your other sales tools stand alone. Use them as a set, or find someone who can help you use them as a set, for your most effective selling and most stable business growth.
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