Mark Williamson, sales and marketing director at PH Media Group, looks at how plant hire firms can harness the power of on-hold marketing to boost sales and customer service
SITTING in an automated queue with only monotonous beeps or poor-quality ‘please hold’ messages for company isn’t anyone’s idea of fun.
We’re all familiar with the horror stories of people waiting on the phone for hours on end, becoming increasingly irritated by repetitive audio, but time spent on hold does not need to be a negative experience. Plant hire firms can take an alternative approach.
Most businesses endeavour to answer calls as quickly as possible but it is often difficult to resolve every telephone query instantly. Perhaps a caller might need information on a product which isn’t to hand or need to be transferred to another employee who has specialist knowledge.
On these occasions where customers need to put on hold, it is important to create a positive experience that not only stops callers from hanging up but also prevents them forming a lasting negative perception.
Given that recent research by PH Media Group discovered 73 per cent of respondents wouldn’t do repeat business with a company if their call wasn’t handled to expectations, it emphasises the need to handle calls in the best possible manner.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SOUND
When it comes to choosing where money is invested in marketing and customer service, call handling is often overlooked. Research has found the average business spends 94 per cent of its marketing budget on getting customers to call and only six per cent on handling that call.
The problem stems from the fact audio branding is still a relatively new discipline, meaning visual branding tends to take precedence for most businesses.
First impressions last, so it is necessary to convey the desired image and values at first glance.
But the way a company sounds is equally as important. Often, the phone represents the first point of contact between a potential customer and the plant hire firm, so it is a vital means of converting leads into sales.
Training staff to provide a consistent, professional manner when answering the phone and developing a best-practice approach is a good starting point.
This ensures leads aren’t deterred at the first hurdle, instead enhancing the caller experience and ensuring a positive brand association is achieved.
However, shaping employee behaviour isn’t the only thing businesses can do.
A COMMUNICATION TOOL
A large number of organisations are still unaware about audio branding, labouring under the misconception that it is the preserve of large corporate organisations.
On-hold marketing operates by transforming the meaningless beeps, poor muzak or silence commonly heard on hold into bespoke voice and music messages.
The messages allow a company’s existing brand image and values to be complemented through the manner of sound while ensuring customers are kept engaged and entertained.
The latter is key, especially in light of the results of the study conducted by PH Media Group among 3,360 UK businesses.
The construction industry was found to keep people on hold for an average of 32.21 seconds and while this may not seem like a long time on paper, consider an average television advert. Lasting around 30 seconds, the advertisement provides enough time to convince – or not convince – the viewer to buy the product.
Similarly, the time consumers spend on hold can be used as a communication tool by plant hire businesses to cross-sell and up-sell in an unobtrusive manner. For example, a caller could ring the company to enquire about hiring excavators, only to be made aware that the firm also rents out specialist industry equipment, such as agricultural tractors, which they might have had to get from another supplier.
People also want to feel reassured that the equipment they are hiring is of a high standard. The messages can help to build trust by promoting the company’s health and safety accreditations, awards or supplier-approved partnerships it may have.
Equally, a plant hire firm could look to showcase its available training courses to ensure the caller’s staff know how to operate the machinery or could even direct the customer to the company website to boost traffic.
THE BUSINESS BENEFITS
Harnessing the subtle power of sound delivers an ideal opportunity to communicate directly to a captive audience in a way that best reflects the intended brand image of the business.
Ultimately, it spells danger for plant hire firms if no consideration is given to what the customer hears when they call the business. Given that research has found 51 per cent of Brits feel more valued if they hear a bespoke voice and music message while on hold, the benefits are clear.