Phone Hold Time is Selling Time

Frank Blau
Contributing Writer

Is your furnace, boiler or air conditioning on its last leg or costing too much to operate? Then let Blau come up with the solution. Our installation department can replace your present equipment with Space Age technology at down-to-earth prices. Make an appointment today with our customer service assistant who will be with you in just a moment.

This is an one of one of eight messages our customers hear when they get put on hold after calling our company. Here’s another:

Thank you for calling. We’re proud to be the only company in town serving over 24,000 satisfied plumbing, heating, and air conditioning customers yearly. Please hold just a moment longer.

Silence Ain’t Golden: We’ve all sat there getting irritated while drumming our fingers to the sounds of silence while on “interminable hold.” I’m not sure which is worse – the silent treatment, or having to put up with rock music or radio station chit-chat while I’m waiting. At least a silent hold doesn’t cost the owner anything.

If you’re going to pay for an on-hold recording, what sense does it make to force callers to listen to a local radio station or music they may find disagreeable? Keep in mind that musical tastes vary, so any hold music is bound to annoy some of the people who call you.

Besides, all forms of broadcast entertainment are subject to tariffs by a national organization representing musicians and other performers. A couple of years ago our firm got sent a bill for hundreds of dollars in royalty fees by the group known as ASCAP, based on the musical interludes that play between our messages. They were mistaken because these interludes are original synthesizer pieces provided by the firm that produces our program. As a result, we did not have to pay, but anyone who uses prerecorded music or radio broadcasts may be held liable for royalty payments. This is something else to consider.

Business Plugs: Instead, it costs no more money to broadcast messages that plug your business. Some of these messages can draw attention to special offers. Another example from my company’s hold program:

Are you one of our energy-saving agreement owners? If so, you are entitled to preferred customer scheduling and special accounts too. Even better, your next heating or cooling service call might be totally free. If interested, ask a customer service assistant who will be with you in just a moment.

All of you have things worth saying to your callers. This is a simple and inexpensive form of advertising. Advertising is especially effective to a captive audience, and persons on telephone hold are about as captive as you’ll find.

Image Boosters: Not only individual firms, but also our national, state and local associations, as well as union locals, waste a golden opportunity. Many consumers call these offices for one reason or another. They ought to be hearing messages such as:

The plumber protects the health and safety of our nation…A licensed professional is your best guarantee of quality work…The best work cannot be done cheap, and cheap work is never the best…Et cetera.

Everyone in the industry complains about our “image problem.” Here’s a chance to do something effective about it in a way that is inexpensive and uncomplicated.

Imagine the impact if everyone in state and local affiliates around the country would have on-hold messages telling about all the good things our profession accomplishes. The cost would be minimal, and in many cases nothing extra at all, since they already are paying for on-hold recordings of “muzak” or radio stations that don’t do the membership any good.

I’d like each and every one of you to tell your association leaders and staff executives to quit wasting this opportunity. And be sure to practice what you preach.

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