Over 154 Years of Service to the Furniture Industry
 Furniture World Logo

Phone Skills: Hold PLease...

Furniture World Magazine


How these words can help, rather than hurt sales.

Sit back, clear your head, and allow yourself to drift to a higher plain of consciousness. Now, I am going to give you a scenario. I want you to verbalize your initial reaction to the situation. Ready? Okay, here it is... being put on telephone hold.

Click! That is the reaction of 88% of callers who are put on telephone hold and hear silence - they hang up. That fact, when coupled with the amount of on-hold time businesses log annually (check out the On Hold Worksheet for more), translates into numerous lost business opportunities. What can a business do to combat this?

There is only one solution: A study conducted by Nationwide Insurance showed that messaging reduced hang-ups by 50% - 80%, the time callers were willing to spend on hold increased by 130%, and of those callers, 15% - 35% purchased additional products or services based on the information they heard while on hold (Automotive Executive, January, 1994). Because MOH can inform customers about valuable products, or services, that they otherwise may be unaware of, it is an important informational link between a business and its customers. Bottom line- MOH makes money.

"MOH reflects a company's philosophy, invokes customer loyalty, and exposes customers to products and/or services they otherwise may be unaware of," states Byron Lancaster, CEO of DMS Corporation, the parent company of The Message On Hold Network. "Business is war, and a company has to utilize every weapon it can to ensure victory."

Lancaster cites the example of Haverty's Furniture, which utilizes MOH to entertain, inform, reinforce marketing programs, and keep callers on the line. Programming such as, "Founded in 1885, Haverty's Furniture has been providing high quality home furnishings for customers for 110 years. We provide a variety of styles of bedroom furniture, elegant and casual dining room suites, and living room sets as well as occasional tables, and, with financing from Haverty's, you can own the home furnishings of your dreams, without having to go broke in the process. We provide our own in-house financing, and we let you choose the option best for you," enables Haverty's to turn a captive audience into captured business.

J. B. Seligman, President of DMS Corp., recommends when selecting a MOH provider, a business do its homework. Notes Seligman, "It is important to remember that the more professional the MOH supplier, the more professional your message will be. When you buy a MOH system you are buying a public relations rep, a spokesperson, and a salesperson. Be sure you are getting what you pay for."

First, find out how long the company has been in business and if the company is rated. There are many "fresh out of the basement" companies getting into the MOH market. As quickly as they pop up is as quickly as they can close down. Be sure they have a proven track record.

Second, look into their warranty policies. Who manufactures their equipment and how reliable is it? Do they guarantee replacement within twenty-four hours if the machine breaks down? This is essential, because the MOH system is the company's vital link to the customer.

Other essentials to look for are: Who writes their scripts? Do they offer a toll-free number for customer service? Do they use professional voice talents and experienced engineers?

The average system should only cost a few dollars a day, and it will more than pay for itself by increasing your bottom line. To quote a MOH user, Eric Kennedy of duPont Registry, "Considering what we pay for a copy machine or a fax, I would compare the on hold programming system to the cost of paper clips... but it's much more effective for our company than paper clips."

On Hold Worksheet

  • Number of Callers per day Times National Avg. Hold time in seconds X 32 = Daily on-hold total (seconds).
  • Convert seconds to minutes รท 60 = Daily on-hold total (minutes).
  • Times Average # business days per month X 22 = Monthly on-hold total in minutes.
  • Times Twelve months per year X 12.

John Manrique is Director of Marketing of Message On Hold. Questions about this article can be sent to FURNITURE WORLD Magazine at editor@furninfo.com.