On-hold promotions are the bane of customers' existence

On-Hold Promotion

There is no more captive audience than an on-hold customer. That makes it extremely tempting to push out advertising or public relations messages, while they wait for your attention. But how does it affect your brand?

The potential benefits are easy to list: increased exposure to products or services (especially new ones); brand extension opportunities (by raising awareness of related products or services); brand enhancement for charitable works; reduction in call volume to call centers or customer service reps (by redirecting callers to online solutions); and so on…

But the potential drawbacks are equally easy to list, if you take the customer’s perspective.

    • Imagine that your customer is calling to find out if you’ll exchange a broken product? Do you really think he’s going to be interested in other products you offer?
    • What if she’s calling with a service complaint? Is it realistic to believe she’s going to be receptive to a sales pitch?
    • Or maybe the caller has been on hold for a long time, or is getting the run-around from your inbound call management software. Is now the best time to brag about your commitment to issues that are important to customers?

Clearly, the caller who has internet access and who may not have been aware that your online solutions provide a fast and easy resolution path might appreciate you suggesting an alternative option. But unless you know the incoming caller is likely to be happy, online chest-beating is never a good idea – and could even be harmful to your brand.

Here’s one simple solution you may want to explore, if you’re considering on-hold promotion: Test your messages in small, related batches for a measured period of time, and measure your sales (or new product hits, or whatever metric is appropriate) to see if there’s a positive change. And always encourage your inbound callers to provide feedback on their on-hold and call resolution experience. Remember to change only one variable at a time, choose an appropriate short-term metric, and measure before and after each change. The rest, as they say, is elementary.