The Magic of Messages On Hold

You might think that titling a blog “The Magic of Messages On Hold” is a tad hyperbolic. But let me counter that by reminding you just how unmagical a terrible on hold experience can be.

Recently I was fortunate enough to visit the Warner Bros’ Harry Potter Studio Tour in London. (Seriously – the London Eye and Madame Tussauds are so Muggle-ish!) On the way I had a bit of a mix up with my transport plans – with the tube-train-bus combo who could blame me? I know, I know, I should have just broomsticked there!

So I called the tour’s offices and, as expected, was put on hold. I was already in a bad mood. My perfect day at Hogwarts was being held up by London traffic. My frustration was building and being put on hold for ten minutes wasn’t going to help. I didn’t remember Harry ever having this problem.

But standing there in freezing London, listening to some monotone voice thanking me for calling them and reassuring me that I’ll be seen to soon reminded me of an article I read from the Harvard Business Review from Christopher Meyer.

Meyer delves into the value that waiting customers offers a company. Whether, you’re entertaining the guests waiting in queue at Disneyland with dressed-up characters or engaging cash-withdrawing customers with news headlines, weather updates and sport score displays like on Wells Fargo’s ATMs, waiting periods offer a huge opportunity. It offers an unrivalled chance to enhance the experience of a customer and significantly distinguish yourself from competitors.

Imagine if I, a Harry Potter nerd through and through, waited on the phone to Warner Bros Studios mere hours before heading into the tour and heard fascinating movie trivia, or tantalising tidbits about the wondrous things I was about to see, or even a reminder to bring cash so I can finally experience what it’s like to taste Butterbeer in the cafe (not great actually). My entire pre-tour experience would have been enjoyable and exciting, instead of frustrating and detracting.

Well over 55% of callers to a business are put on hold at some point. It’s inevitable, but it’s not unsalvageable. Customers on hold are a captive audience – a captive audience who are interested in what you have to offer, eager to find out more and begging for something to distract them from remembering that they are just wasting their own precious time on hold.

A perfectly written on hold message can magically turn a negative customer experience into a positive—and profitable—one. The right balance of ingenuity, advertising and information can engage the full attention of an otherwise alienated caller.

Utilise every resource you have – add a little magic to your on hold system with some messages on hold! And if you don’t believe me about the real power of having some expert marketing copy added to your on hold, take it from the silver-bearded wizard himself, Albus Dumbledore:

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”