Messages On Hold

Choosing the Right Voice for Your Brand

We’re told from a young age that “first impressions are everything”; they’re the ever-lasting picture a new person paints of you from the moment you meet. While we tend to take this with a pinch of salt when socialising with others, the idiom rings all the more true when there are physical barriers in place, such as communicating over the phone.

When it comes to the first impression of your business, the stakes are much higher, as this often determines whether or not a new customer will jump on board with you and what you have to offer. While meeting customers in real life gives you ample opportunity to charm with your smile and warm personality, interacting over the phone is an entirely different story, and it’s the initial aural handshake that truly counts.

This is why choosing the right voice talent for your audio production is so important to your branding and customer reach. If a new customer is calling your company for the first time, it’s imperative they’re greeted with a warm and welcoming audio greeting that perfectly reflects your brand.

If your business is in a delicate industry, such as respite care or a funeral home, your voice talent ought to be soothing, comforting, and informative, rather than energetic and bubbly. On the other side of the coin, a younger voice with bright tones and a vivacious energy will be better suited to a childcare centre or café.

Each of our voice talents offers varying degrees of tone, warmth and personality types, to mirror your company’s image. There’s Candice, whose glowing, cheerful smile can actually be heard down the phone line; Magnus offers a host of character voices; Grayton has an authoritative, deep tone that commands attention; and Annie’s mature voice connects with callers while being helpful and comforting.

The right voice talent for your audio production shouldn’t be so out of line with your brand that it distracts the callers: what your callers should be focusing on is the content of the messages, rather than the voice. If you currently have a welcome message recorded in-house by your nervous receptionist or ambivalent IT guy, then the impression you’re offering isn’t all that strong or professional.

Take a listen below and see what you think. Here’s an average run of the mill in-house welcome example:

 

And here’s something we rustled up with one of our professional voice artists, Adrian:

 

So what do you think? How are you greeting each and every customer and prospect over the phone?

The right voice talent for your brand will not only receive every customer with professionalism, they’ll also get your customers excited about your promotions, keep them informed with vital information, or even calm them down if they’re stressed out.

Think about your company and brand as a person. What are their values? What do they talk about? What do they sound like? Now head over to our massive voice talent library and find the right voice to bring your messages and business to life!

– Cassie

How Will You Celebrate Leap Day?

Unlike your favourite real holidays, which happen annually, you only get the chance to celebrate February 29, or Leap Day, once every four years. That makes Leap Day actually less frequent than once in a blue moon (which happens roughly every three years).

Motorbike

How should one celebrate this day? By taking a leap, of course! By trying something new that you’ve been putting off for far too long. That’s as simple as making a booking for a dance class, or trying a new restaurant, or bungee jumping in a chicken suit (if you do this, please send us photos).

I know what you’re thinking: Leap Day isn’t a real holiday. Well, neither is Talk Like A Pirate Day, but as more people support and celebrate these left-field calendar dates, we can change the world. I still hold out hope for a Leap Day miracle.

Leap Day William

We also think it’s a good day to take a risk with your marketing.

The best advertisements of all time all have an element of risk. Have you ever thought that a scripted message looks different to what everyone else does, or is a bit ‘out there’? That probably means it’s more effective. People remember things that are different. It’s one reason why we recommend updating your messages – to keep it different! After all, how do you expect to secure your competitor’s clients if you market your business in exactly the same way they do?

Old Spice

So if you’ve been playing it safe with your marketing, do one thing this Leap Day: ask us to write something wacky, wonderful and way out there. After all, there’s a Leap Day saying: if you want make a baby, playing it safe isn’t the best way to do it.

I’m on a horse.

Stop Reposting

In order to be valuable, the content you post needs to be specific to your business. Pugs in Game of Thrones costumes? Not relevant, save them for your personal page. The only way to ensure everything you post is specific to your business is to create everything yourself. If you’re just starting out, or are hitting a content brick wall, here are some tips:

social media for business

Don’t be Afraid to Hire Help

Creating enough content for your business can seem like an almost impossible task, thankfully there’s always help out there. Intern uni students or hire a freelance writer – you’re sure to find someone who enjoys writing, understands social media, and would love to get some experience. However, if you really want to be noticed, consider branching out into video content. Why? Because video is naturally engaging and easy to digest – it requires very little effort, your consumer simply has to sit and watch. The figures back me up:

  • 100 million Internet users watch videos online every day.
  • By 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, according to Cisco.
  • YouTube receives more than one billion unique visitors every month.

If you’re hesitant to jump into the world of video content because you’re afraid of the price tag, relax – in recent years, things have become much more affordable, and more businesses are offering video creation than ever before. At Messages On Hold, we offer VideoUpdate.me, a professionally written, recorded and produced industry-specific video newsletter you brand as your own.

social media for business

  1. Not Every Post Needs to be Earth-Shattering

Remember, it’s better to post one relevant video you created on your website/social media and have that running for three to six months than repost a video that isn’t yours every week. In the meantime however, remember to post updates, share your blog posts, and keep clients updated with products and news. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering for you or your customers either, keeping it light hearted is just fine.

social media for business

Newsjacking

If you’re struggling for ideas, Newsjacking can be a great source of content. Messages On Hold did this last year when a telephone sales rep from US company Comcast was recorded refusing to cancel a customer’s service. In the weeks following the recording going viral, Comcast’s share price dropped more than 5% – a dip many attributed to the negative publicity surrounding the recorded phone call. This happened to coincide with the launch of our online skills training, Phone Skills. We immediately put out a press release and wrote a few blogs on the subject, showing the terrible results of failing to train staff properly, highlighting the benefit of our product to our customers. But please be careful Newsjacking an issue held sacred by many may not give the results you’re looking for.

Good Example:

social media for business

Bad Example:

social media for business

Use Your Personal Experiences

You’ll be surprised at just how well your daily life can translate into content relatable to your business and audience. Our General Manager, Kirrily Davies did it in her recent blog post about leadership. By reflecting on her son’s junior football match on Mother’s Day, she was able to show the importance of every day leadership and how it can positively impact the people around you. Using your own experiences has the benefit of allowing you to write about what you know, and to develop a deeper emotional bond with you customers.

Every time you post ensure the content is relevant to you and helpful to your customers. If that means promoting your own products, even better! Also make sure you post and share your own content at least once a week. You adopted social media to promote your business – so do it!

– Steph

The Top Five Christmas Campaigns for 2014

Every year around early November, the internet starts to come alive with the excitement for the upcoming ad bonanza that is Christmas time. So in spirit of Christmas, here are our top 5 Christmas campaigns for 2014!

5) Sainsbury’s – Christmas Is For Sharing, made in partnership with The Royal British Legion. [Warning – turn your speakers down]

Talk about pulling on the old heartstrings! The famous war story of The Christmas Truce has been brought to life in this ad which at publishing date has had over 14 million hits. Sainsbury’s took a big risk with this one.  War isn’t a topic to be taken lightly. However if we look past the fact that in essence, the supermarket is using war to advertise their company, what we have is a beautiful representation of the spirit of Christmas. (Sorry for the saccharine, but if we can’t at Christmas then when can we?) What makes the campaign more palatable is the fact its promoting a chocolate bar of which all profits will be donated to the Royal British Legion.  A brilliant message indeed.

4) Tesco’s Wigan Light Show

Once upon a time, retailers would release one wizz bang Christmas ad and that was enough. Not anymore. UK Retailer Tesco has released a fun, sweet Christmas ad campaign which at face value is fine. But it’s not the official ad that we love. In 2013, Tesco customer Claire Hannah tweeted that her local Tesco wasn’t displaying the iconic ‘Tesco hat’. Instead of a miserly, boring response tweet, Tesco threw plenty of energy (and plenty of dollars) at a response (seen here) this year that’s already getting them plenty of free publicity. Not only did they respond to the tweet, but they added to their Christmas message this year in a spectacular, explosive fashion. It looks like the proof is already in the pudding in terms of free exposure thanks to Christmas-themed content.

3) David Jones – The Things We Do For Love

Speaking of saccharine! We’re proud to announce that Aussie retailer David Jones has jumped on the Christmas bandwagon and offered up a classic Aussie Christmas problem in their sentimental Christmas ad! Here in the wide, brown land, we’re not famous for our inclusion of chimneys in our architecture. This ad plays delightfully on this notion and reminds us why we celebrate Christmas at all. Because it makes the people we love happy. While this ad’s not racing up the viral stakes yet, we’re expecting a Christmas miracle!

2) Aldi – Aussie Christmas

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVaZ1hvXW0A#t=55

Australians enjoy a fairly unique Christmas. While the romance of a white Christmas isn’t lost on us – most of us spend December 25 sweltering in the heat wishing we’d let the whole ‘hot food’ thing go. Aldi has jumped on this idea and offered a delightful mash-up of the traditional white Christmas and the quintessential Aussie Christmas. While the advertising elements of this ad might be a little overt, we’re willing to forgive it just to watch those zany Europeans having a crack at the slip n’ slide on the snow! And keep an eye out for the budgie smugglers – we didn’t know they existed outside Australia!

1) John Lewis – Monty The Penguin

And finally, it wouldn’t be a modern Christmas without a visit from Monty The Penguin. John Lewis must be rubbing their hands together in the lead up to Christmas now, knowing they’re days away from an absurd amount of free publicity. Before it was even released, the Twittersphere was abuzz with excitement. And, as expected, this year’s Monty The Penguin ad notched up 12 million views in the first week it was released. John Lewis pre-empted the insane response to the ad with more content marketing than you can poke a stick at including  a website where you can explore Monty’s world, a storytelling app, Monty’s Den in each of their stores and Monty the Penguin adoption toys which raise money for the WWF. Oh and Monty the Penguin has over 35,000 followers on Twitter. Not bad for a penguin. John Lewis spent £1 million on the Monty the Penguin ads but when you look at the YouTube shares, the interactive content and phenomenal free publicity this little guy has earned the retailer, it’s a small price to pay.

– Sophie

Is Your Music Driving Away Customers?

Music is amazing. We use it to enhance the mood, bring back lost memories and even form new ones. But one thing I’ve discovered is that music can be extremely effective in driving away customers.

That’s right, driving away customers. I was in the city and a lifetimeaway from my favourite coffee shop. With a pocket full of change and a head full of ache, I would have given my money to just about anyone for a cup of brown liquid that even resembled coffee!

Then in my coffeeless desert, an oasis appeared. An oasis in the form of a cool coffee cart outside a music shop. The girls behind the cashier were gorgeous and pierced. The menu was scrawled on blackboard surrounded by cargo timber and posters of bands I’ve never heard of. However, as I approached, something strange happened. The closer I got, the less I wanted their coffee.

They had two speakers either side of the register, blasting customers with a face full of high tempo prog rock. I was instantly repelled. But I still soldiered on, grabbed a fistful of change and asked for a flat white to go. “What?!” yelled the cashier. I repeated my order. “You’re going to have to speak up!” She couldn’t hear me over the music. I could feel my face flushing with frustration.

Years ago, I would have grit my teeth and sucked it up. But on that day, I jammed my coins back into my pocket and stormed off without another word.

I’ve noticed this more recently; restaurants, cafes and retail stores all playing music just loud enough so that customers are made to repeat themselves. Is this because the store managers don’t know any better? Does the loud music help keep them awake? Or is it a ploy to move customers through the store quicker? A quick Google search for Millman retail music research will reveal that individuals tend to stay longer when listening to slow tempo tracks when compared with the fast tempo alternative. Food for thought.

– Lachy

Going The Extra Mile (or 23.5 Miles!)

There are customers that come into a store, buy a product, and leave… no questions asked. Then there are those kooky characters who make some of the most bizarre requests you’re likely to hear. But sometimes, the most amazing thing about a customer request isn’t the request itself, but a company’s response.

“GOING THE EXTRA MILE… LITERALLY”

Take this business consultant in the United States, who before departing on the last leg of a particularly tiresome series of work trips, tweeted at his favourite steakhouse “Hey @Morton’s – can you meet me at Newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks. :-)” Whether he was being serious or not is beside the point.

Going The Extra Mile

The point is that Morton’s turned this tweet into a PR extravaganza. When the tired businessman reached the arrivals terminal, imagine his face when a tuxedoed Morton’s waiter greeted him with a 24-ounce Porterhouse, shrimp, potatoes, bread, napkins and silverware. This extraordinary response to a mere social media post demonstrates a few things about Morton’s, and paints a picture of a business that thrives on going the extra mile, or speaking literally, the extra 23.5 miles!

“THE SITUATION STARTED TRENDING WITHIN HOURS”

A team member was monitoring social media – that’s a given. Up the chain, superiors were willing to approve the idea, then a cook had to make the food and time it for the traveller’s arrival, someone needed to track down flight information to ensure the waiter was at the right location, and the food had to be driven, you guessed it, 23.5 miles. Needless to say, the situation started trending within hours, giving Morton’s a huge amount of exposure for relatively little expenditure.

Next time a customer asks you something strange, don’t fall back on policies or common sense. See if you can take advantage, surprise someone and see where it takes you. Never be afraid of going the extra mile!

– Magnus

Think Big

Picture this: you’ve just finished shooting images for your upcoming photography book. Do you a) email a few publishers and politely explain to them that you’re wishing to Untitled-3publish a book and direct them to view a few of your best images you thoughtfully attached to the email? Or b) do you spend a little extra time thinking of an interesting way to grab their attention, compelling them to publish your book?

Kym Illman is not unfamiliar with strategy b. To grab the attention of his chosen book publisher, Papadakis Publisher, Kym thought outside the box. In fact, he thought so far outside the box he had to have his submission couriered to their office!

Personalisation goes a long way

Rather than emailing, Kym selected a photo he took of a curious baby giraffe and blew it up to six feet tall! The creativity didn’t stop there; he then added some copy, his contact details and personalised it by including the publisher’s name in the photograph. As you can see, the final product speaks for itself, literally.

Not only did the publisher accept his submission, they posted it to their Facebook wall, putting it in front of hundreds of potential buyers.

That’s free advertising!

Was his submission expensive to produce? Not by a long shot. Do you need to be an award-winning creative to do this? It would help, but a short brain storming session plus initiative and just about anyone can come up with a simple yet compelling idea.

– Lachy

*You can view more of Kym’s acclaimed Africa photographs by visiting his Africa On Safari Facebook page.

Improving The Customer Experience – A Lesson from George

Your product may be a winner, but never underestimate the power of improving the customer experience. Consider the coffee market. You can buy the classic Blend 43 from the supermarket or maybe a nice pre-ground Lavazza from the corner store, but if you want a high-class European coffee experience – you choose Nespresso.

Improving the customer experience

“Just call me George. You’re a club member now.”

Capsules can be ordered online, but the real experience comes from heading into a Nespresso store. The classy interior immediately reminds you of the (in)famous commercials starring George Clooney & Matt Damon, as smartly dressed employees patiently guide you through the different coffees and their apparent (apologies to coffee aficionados) differences. Deep inside you’ll even find a man in an expensive suit sitting behind an oak desk, fingers on his keyboard ready to serve you. You know… so you can buy coffee. The first time you go to the counter, you’re presented with your matte-finished members’ card to ‘The Nespresso Club’ – of which I presume Clooney is a member.

Why as as Nespresso Do? It’s about improving the Customer Experience

It may seem excessive, but even the most cynical consumer will have trouble separating the Nespresso ‘experience’ from the Nespresso ‘product’. And ‘sophisticated’ isn’t the only flavour of experience on offer. Take the Messages On Hold ‘experience’ – it’s all about fun and responsive customer service. We send comedy cards and cheeky customised voicemails starring Shane Warne to our clients and our promotional videos feature our CEO in wacky scenarios complete with animated ‘POWS!’ and zany sound effects.

A product can be rationally evaluated and compared. An emotionally significant experience cannot be debated. Do you, like many aspiring businesses, offer a great experience? What ways can you employ to improve your customer experience?

– Jakub

Sound Like A Winner On The Phone

At Messages On Hold we conduct 95% of our business over the phone, so we’re acutely aware of how important our phone manner is. We know that nothing drops the buying temperature of a lead like a poorly handled phone call. To ensure every person in our company is not just competent on the phone but confident too, we go through rigorous training.

Customer Service Guru & Messages On Hold MD Kym Illman

Customer Service Guru & Messages On Hold MD Kym Illman

So you can start 2014 by offering your customers unwaveringly brilliant service over the phone, we’ve compiled our five most powerful phone techniques.

1) Smile!

Sounds simple, right? If you smile while you’re on the phone, your voice will sound relaxed, friendly and upbeat. Keep in mind that 38% of communication is tone of voice. Over the phone, it’s north of 50%.

2) Eliminate the hanging or…

“Do you want to hold or…” This sounds unprofessional and indecisive. If you can’t provide a second option, drop the ‘or’ altogether.

3) Never say “It’s not my department”

Believe it or not, customers don’t care about how your company is structured. All they care about is who they’re speaking with – you – the representative of the entire company. Instead, try saying “I’ll help you with this” then do the leg work to resolve the issue.

4) Stop placing your hand over the receiver

Your hand is not sound proof. It merely muffles the office sounds as you shuffle papers about your desk, frantically type on a keyboard or worse yet, call out across the office for a colleague. Remedy this by purchasing a soft touch keyboard or using your phone system’s hold button.

5) Have a pen handy

Almost every phone conversation will result in you having to record details of some sort. Telling the caller that you just have to get a pen & pad impresses nobody. Be ready.

That’s it! Implement these rules across your office and notice the difference it makes to how customers respond to you. To find more helpful tips that you can implement right now to sound like a Fortune 500 company, visit Messages On Hold.

If you’d like to share a useful tip, leave a comment on our Facebook page today!

– Lachy

Soft Serve Is Not Soft Sell

I scream, you scream we all scream for… t-shirts?

I scream, you scream we all scream for… t-shirts?

Real estate is expensive; there are thousands of retailers fighting for attention and department stores are unlikely to take a risk… what’s a poor designer to do? Travel around the UK in a brightly painted ice-cream truck selling t-shirts I hear you say? Well that’s exactly what London designer Henry Holland did.

Selling House of Holland clothes and accessories out of a van was a low risk way of testing out a retail space in different areas. The company could gauge reactions, get a bit of publicity and sell £50 t-shirts. A stunt like this perfectly suited the House of Holland ethos; it was fun, playful and a bit different. It also offered customers and fans a chance to interact with the brand. At a time when customers are more likely to buy online, this ice-cream van removed all the middle-men and sold from designer to consumer.

Sure, some people just wanted a soft-serve cone and were a little confused, but the stripey-spotty van made a real impact in Covent Garden. Plus, according to the company, the only ongoing costs were petrol and staff – and that ain’t too bad either!

Are you ready to shut up shop and invest in an ice-cream van? Or can you think of another creative way to make a big impact in the retail world?

– Emily