Silence Isn’t Golden…

What do your clients hear when they are placed on hold at your practice? Silence? A staticky radio? Music streaming from an MP3 player or satellite music?

If you’re doing any of the above, you probably haven’t put too much thought into what you’re playing on hold and how it affects your listener. You might even think “we hardly ever put anyone on hold and if we do, it’s not for very long.” Do not dismiss the benefits of message on hold, even if you feel your clients are not being placed on hold very often. The busier the practice, the higher the chance that you may have to place someone on hold every now and then.

According to Electronic Distribution Today, the average hold time across all industries is 38 seconds. 

There are many other situations where someone might have to be placed on hold, aside from when the front desk staff are too busy to take the call at that moment.

For example, they might need to place someone on hold to…

  • Transfer a call
  • Ask a question
  • Look up a record, file, or notes
  • Finish checking out a client

These are just a few examples, but there could be many more. The point is, an on-hold program is not intended to encourage staff to leave people waiting on hold; it is an opportunity to educate your clients for those moments that your staff does have to put them on hold momentarily.

Clients are less likely to hang up if they are hearing an on-hold program vs. silence

Being placed on hold and listening to silence, even for just 30 seconds, can feel like an eternity. People are much more aware of their wait time when placed on hold to silence, versus hearing something interesting and informative. Our clients often inform us that people have actually asked them to be placed back on hold, because they were interested in what they were hearing.

An AT&T Survey found that customers who had been left on hold to silence indicated that they felt the hold time was about 90 seconds, when it was only actually 30 seconds. However, clients that were on hold for 30 seconds to some sort of music background, felt that it was only 15 seconds.

If you were to ask your clients to name 3 services that you offer, what do you think their response would be? Do you think they would be able to get to 3? Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Chances are, they know very little about what you offer at your practice outside of the routine services. You may not think so, but the average pet owner actually wants to be educated in the best way to care for their pet.

There’s just not enough time to educate your clients.

When your clients come into the practice, how could you possibly educate them on all of the services that you offer, and what is most beneficial to them? If a dental cleaning is recommended, think about trying to educate the pet owner in the moment. There is so much going on to distract them, and all they likely hear is that they have to spend more money. Why not let your on-hold program do the educating for you? Think of how powerful it would be to have a 30-second message about periodontal disease and how it can affect your pet’s heart, liver, and kidneys. It is likely that the pet owner can bring it up during that call, or at their pet’s next appointment.

Although there are other alternatives to a custom Telephone Message On Hold program, other options are likely a bad idea. What about the radio, streaming satellite music, or an MP3 player? Unless you are playing music from a device that is designed to play on hold, it is likely that the music will be very low-quality. Non-on-hold devices are not designed to handle that kind of output; they often result in high static and tend to skip. These devices tend not to last very long at all, which results in having to replace them often. Another problem is that you can’t control what is being played on hold, and you run the risk of offending a client–whether it be the type of music that is being played, a commercial that comes on, or even a discussion that comes up on a talk show. Even worse, if you’re playing the radio on hold, you run the risk of having one of your competitors’ commercials play through your on hold. Free advertising for your competition!

The point is, the benefits of having a custom Message On Hold program far outweigh the cons. Not only do most of your callers prefer it, but it makes you look more professional as well.

Stan Rapp and Tom Collins of Maximarketing conducted a study that found that 88% of callers preferred on-hold messages to the alternative. They also found that 16-20% of callers made a purchasing decision based upon something they heard while on hold.

With over 22 years of experience in providing custom Telephone Message On Hold programs to thousands of veterinary practices, our team has what it takes to help you with your on hold needs. Give us a call at (800)493-9003 to learn more!