Photo by Justin Lim
It seems like no one actually talks about telephones anymore, but we’ve come a long way from Alexander Graham Bell shouting “Ahoy!” into a copper-and-resin tube. We don’t talk about them because telephones are as ubiquitous as indoor plumbing. It’d surprise you if a business didn’t have it, and you assume every place does.
So use it to sell something. Try to remember the last time you walked into a gas station toilet – picture the walls. Aside from obscene graffiti, the most common thing you’ll see is an informational sign or advertisement for something. Truck-stops, in particular, abound in this sort of thing. If even the gas stations have figured out that the toilet offers an advertising opportunity, though, why aren’t you using your phones to their fullest potential?
Not every business can afford their own marketing staff, but everyone has phones – which means you already have a marketing team. So do you want to let them just sit around, or get them working for you?
1. Auto Attendant/IVR
Why do restaurants have hosts and hostesses? Does everyone who walks through the door really need to have their hands held while they figure out where they are and what they’re doing there? We know that’s not true because if it were, the “Seat Yourself” places would have crowds of confused people wandering aimlessly around outside – even if they don’t serve alcohol. Greeters at a business tell people something about the quality of the restaurant. Sometimes you don’t want to play Guy Fieri – sometimes you want a place with class. Restaurants appealing to that are going to have someone to see you to your seat, because they know first impressions are everything in a hypercompetitive environment like dining.
That holds true outside of restauranteering too. On average, you have 7 seconds to make a good impression. How do you guarantee a consistent experience every time someone calls in? If On Hold is like a lobby, an Auto Attendant system serves as your greeter, introducing you and your business to everyone who calls you. For the most part, this is a customer service tool – it makes you look incredibly professional and attentive, and makes callers feel like you have someone who can help address their specific needs. It’s also a chance to sell.
Let’s call our bank, for instance. You reach the Auto Attendant, who sounds happy to hear from you because your bank employs a high-quality professional IVR and On Hold Marketing firm. “To check your account balance, press 1….” It starts.
Then “If you have or are interested in a CD or IRA, press 4”.
Did you catch the sales pitch? CDs and IRAs are very specific products – the message could just as easily said “to speak to a personal banker, press 4” and it would have sent you to the same place… but it didn’t, and now you’re thinking about a Certificate of Deposit or an Individual Retirement Account.
How about your business? What can you sell there? Probably more than you might think.
2. After Hours Greetings
You might not have the resources to keep your business open 24 hours, and chances are you will have people looking for you when your closed. What happens when they call and the phone just rings and rings and rings? Just like having a greeter during your daytime hours, making sure you have someone “on-site” to answer after-hours questions and calls makes you look much more customer-oriented, and secures sales that may have gone somewhere else.
You may run a great business, but your customers don’t spend all their time thinking about you. Even when they call you, your service makes up just a part of all the things they have to do – so by telling them exactly when you’ll be back and ready to help them, you give them a deadline and an expectation that allows them to turn to other things and return to you when you’ll be back. Companies that don’t do that leave their customers with their task (reaching out for your products or services) incomplete, which means they’ll keep calling other businesses – you know, your competitors – until they either get what they want or find a company who has the foresight to have an After Hours message playing.
That’s great customer service, but how does it sell? In a sense, it’s almost more straight forward than using Auto Attendant. When you open your greeting, you indicate who you are and what you sell – and don’t be vague, like “your source for everything you need for home improvement”. Just like On Hold Marketing, avoid laundry lists; focus on who is calling you, and respond to them. We’ve said before that it’s much more profitable to sell to existing customers than try to recruit new ones. You know what your customers want when they call you. Let’s say you sell home improvement supplies, but for some reason most of your customers call you because they’re doing roofing. You can open with “Big Bob’s Project Warehouse, your source for the highest quality drain gutters, fixtures, and all your home improvement needs”. Now the guy calling to see if you’re open to get some roofing nails will come in the next day asking if you sell gutter-cleaning supplies too.
This is also a lead-gathering tool. An After Hours message that directs callers to specific voicemail boxes gives your sales team a way to direct their efforts, which makes them more successful – you can take down a whole lot of small money with shotgun advertising, but if you want the big bucks, you want a precision strike, and that requires target lists and intelligence gathering. Let your competitors waste time guessing who they should be calling; use your After Hours messaging correctly, and you could get the sales team that always knows where the money is.
3 On Hold Messaging
Do we really need to repeat ourselves? Most businesses today know about On Hold messaging, but many still aren’t using it to its full potential – sure, music is better than silence for keeping your customers on the line, but why stop at music when you can coat your entire virtual lobby with advertising that gets people to start spending money when you take them off hold! If you’re not marketing yourself on hold, then all you’ve got when you hit the “hold” button is time and opportunity wasted, and businesses don’t grown on past opportunities – they grow on current opportunities, and there’s nothing more current than that caller you just placed on hold to accept a payment or find a specific employee.
People call you for all kinds of reasons – and usually they won’t be thinking of every single way you can help them. On Hold Marketing is the place to do that. We’ve said it time and again, of course, but it bears repeating: if you aren’t selling your services and products to your callers when you place them on hold, you are leaving thousands of dollars on the table. No Marketing team can sell as much, as consistently, and as often during the day as a regularly updated On Hold message.
With all that these tools can do to augment, automate, and add to your sales and marketing department (if you run a small enough crew, it could be your sales and marketing department), why would you want anything but the best?
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