On Hold Done Right: How to Personalise with Impact

There’s one thing that unites all those calling into contact centres: a universal dislike for on-hold music. Case in point, the search for “the worst on-hold music” on your favourite search engine returns a whopping 173 million results and countless discussions about identifying the very worst.

If you have ever had to call any contact centre – which you certainly have, unless you have lived in a cave for the past decade or are incredibly lucky – you will probably empathise with such hostility. The same music, over, and over and over again, punctually interrupted by ‘Your call is important to us’, or an irrelevant service message or, even worse, sales pitch…yikes!

To me, hold music feels like the last bastion of the bog-standard cookie-cutter treatment of customers, which is why I was delighted to hear that had set out to identify how we could achieve relevance at scale in that moment.

Actually, scratch that. Premier CX don’t just want to deliver relevant caller journeys, they want to make them hyper-personalised! I’ll let you wrap your head around that: even when you’re waiting your turn to speak to an agent, you can have tailored and targeted messaging and music streamed specifically to you. How cool is that?!

This is something that their recently unveiled product, eMOHtive, does. But that’s enough bigging-up of our friends at Premier CX, let’s dig into how to personalise the on-hold experience in your contact centre!

Why You Should Personalise the On-hold Experience

The on-hold experience has frequently been neglected. Its potential for business improvement is frankly under-estimated. And personally, I struggle to understand why. Think about it. Your customer is taking the initiative of getting in touch with you. They want to talk to you. And they are, essentially, a captive audience for as long as your queue takes (or until they decide to abandon the call).

A captive audience. For 5, 10, 20 or however many minutes it takes for the caller to get through to your team, you have their attention. This is essentially every marketer’s dream! And what do you do with that attention?

All too often it’s wasted. A thread on Reddit, which focused on the worst on-hold music in the UK, highlighted a doctor’s surgery that played a song entitled ‘Killing Me Softly’ and an insurance company that preferred ‘Rescue Me’ (reported by a customer who had just crashed their car). This clearly isn’t good enough. Your customers deserve better. Your agents deserve better. The bottom line deserves better!

 Today, savvy organisations have moved away from distracting callers and hoping their wait feels less arduous. Instead, they are moving towards a more relevant, more enjoyable, and more personalised approach to their on-hold strategy. And you can too.

Ways to Personalise Your On-hold Experience

Make Silence an Option 

Perhaps an obvious one, but if you know some customers are exasperated by the music (e.g. a repeat caller), offering the opportunity to go silent is a good way to earn some brownie points and show empathy.

Offer a Call-back

I can speak from personal experience on this one. I never call a contact centre unless I have at least 40 minutes before my next appointment. I just never risk it. If I worked up the energy to call and ‘face the music’ (pun intended) but am offered an opportunity to be called back rather than keeping the line busy, you’d have a much happier and more disposed customer in me.

Segmented Wordings and Tunes

If you have identified distinct segments within your customer base, you may have determined that they have their own way of speaking and preferences. Expressions that are familiar to one segment might be alien to another.

If you have captured your callers’ speech patterns, adapt your core messaging to each segment and ensure your tone of voice resonates with them. Fostering that sense of mutual understanding and an emotional bond can go a long way to strengthening relationships or even disarming potential conflicts. And if you really know your customers, switch up the tracks for their favourite genre to make the wait ‘enjoyable’ for them!

Tailored Offers

Is every one of your current offers or product or information relevant to every one of your customers? Unlikely.

What if you have an offer that is restricted to those who have a current account with you, but the caller only has a savings account. The message is not only irrelevant to them; it might raise expectations and dash their hope promptly, risking that customer to feel excluded. Conversely, your analytics probably will steer you towards those who are most likely to be receptive to a given offer or promotional message and enable you to market exclusively to them, seizing the untapped marketing potential of your support channel.Experimentation Is the Key

Few organisations have started on their journey to personalised on-hold experiences. While this offers you an opportunity to benefit from a first-mover advantage, it also means there is little best practice for you to rely upon. This means that you need a supplier that can offer you rapid testing and no code management of the queues while communicating to your contact centre infrastructure and your CRM.

Let test and iterate be the name of the game! This is still a green field, and the UK is crying out for the end of horrendous on-hold experiences. Will you answer your customers’ calls, or will you leave them hanging?

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