Editorial

How A Call Center Works (and How to Make It Work for Your Business) Easy on Hold and Vodia

Even with so many ways to engage with a company or brand, including and particularly social media, today’s customers still prefer voice to connect with your business. So, the phone remains a core component of the customer experience, but many call centers are unaware 86 percent of their customers experience significant hold time when they do call. This is where high-value queues and on-hold content can vastly improve the customer experience.

Practically every business uses group calling. We’ve all heard that familiar auto-attendant telling us, “press 1” for sales,” “2 for support,” etc. Pressing a number from a list of digits rings a group of phones typically one of three ways: simultaneously, top-down or in a circular round-robin. Regardless of how the call is distributed, however, the idea is to get that call to several people who can answer it intelligently and manage this segment of the customer’s journey. If no one is available, if agents are busy or away from their desks, an administrator can decide if the call lands in voicemail or is routed to a different group or returned to the same group again, a scenario commonly referred to as a hunt group. And though hunt groups are quite effective, some businesses need a little more, including call center, ACD, queues, agents…

A call center takes a company’s telephony to a much higher level. Incoming calls are immediately queued in a call center while the system finds an agent to take the call; while callers are queued, they can hear hold music or marketing messages, and they can be given prompts that let them know where they are in the queue, the approximate wait time and if they can press a number to initiate a callback (rather than waiting on hold), all of which improves the caller experience and keeps the caller engaged with a brand (as opposed to hanging up and calling someone else). Distribution in a call center can use the same algorithms as a hunt group, but it offers additional ways to distribute the call, including seeking an agent who’s been idle or redirecting a call internally or externally. This keeps it “fair” for the agents while making sure the caller is connected to the right agent.

In a nutshell, a call center keeps track of two scores: the caller with the highest score is answered first, and the agent with the highest score gets that call. The agent score is determined by the selected distribution method, while the call score is primarily determined by the amount of time the caller has waited in the queue. These scores can also be manipulated through programming for priority purposes, of course, but the bottom line is to connect callers to the appropriate agents in the shortest amount of time. ACD call center functionality is something for which most organizations pay a premium, but not when you deploy Vodia’s best-in-class phone system. With Vodia, agent groups are built into its hosted offering, so you can have as many agents and queues as you like for no additional cost.

Even with so many ways to engage with a company or brand, including and particularly social media, today’s customers still prefer voice to connect with your business. So, the phone remains a core component of the customer experience, but many call centers are unaware 86 percent of their customers experience significant hold time when they do call. This is where high-value queues and on-hold content can vastly improve the customer experience. We’ve discovered a few disconcerting statistics about hold time:

  • Executives on average spend 15 minutes every day – 60 hours a year – on hold (USA Today)
  • Seven out of 10 business callers are placed on hold before their calls are completed (Inbound/Outbound)
  • After an average of one minute and 55 seconds on hold, most callers hang up, and only 34 percent call back (Small Business Chronicle)

Even if your company’s average hold time is brief, putting callers on hold more than once increases the total amount of time he or she spends in your hold queue, and if hold time is long from the outset of the call, the risk of abandoned calls increases significantly.

Easy on Hold and Vodia want you to turn customer calls into customer satisfaction and revenue. How? We’ve put together some guidance to help you win callers’ hearts and minds.

Get the right music and ditch the default music.

Default hold music is nothing more than glorified elevator music: it’s low quality, many of your competitors are probably using it, and callers know right away you spent nothing on improving their hold experience. Contact a reputable licensed music vendor like Easy on Hold for modern hold options with all of the licensing covered. The licensing aspect of on hold music is crucial: get it wrong and you risk fines of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Answer common questions immediately with your Auto Attendant or IVR.

Before placing callers in the hold queue, you can answer common questions that don’t require an agent: are popular items out of stock? Is there online billing or support available? Will your hours be different during the holidays? Where are you located? This quickly answers questions that don’t require an agent, frees up agents and decreases hold times.

Provide callers with helpful content for a value-added experience.

You need to pay close attention to your callers’ on hold experience – music and messaging that keeps callers from giving up will help generate revenue for your company. According to Sales and Marketing Management, 88 percent of callers want to hear product information while they are on hold – almost 20 percent of these callers said they purchased products they heard about while holding. Scriptwriters are your friend when it comes to engaging hold messages. At Easy On Hold, we create custom messages of about 50 words each, assembling them in a library of eight or more in a cloud-based dashboard for client approval: these custom messages can be paused in real-time, scheduled to repeat or archived forever. Our messages are crafted like Tweets – clear, engaging and straight to the point.

“When callers are presented with messages, promotional or otherwise, [while they are] on hold, rather than silence or a radio commercial, they stayed on hold longer, are more likely to be interested [in] an advertised product and retain information and, finally, are less annoyed by wait times.”

  • Jefferson Dennealen Marketing

Use multiple customized caller experiences

Your company can hit an on-hold home run by targeting specific caller groups, particularly as some contact center VoIP systems, such as Vodia, enable the playback of precise content for various hold queues. Easy on Hold can take care of the entire process for you, from complex scripting to recording and producing, music licensing, and streaming integration you need to drive more revenue from your customer calls. In today’s sales environments, “one size fits all” no longer works – this is also true for your contact center. Callers who want to ask questions about your products, or purchase them, have very different questions than callers seeking assistance for an already-purchased product from customer service – you need to tailor the on-hold experience for a variety of calls. What to do? Create several unique message-on-hold streams to address each caller profile. Here are some ideas:

  • Demographics

Are your callers under 25? Over 60? Somewhere in between? Choose music as many callers as possible will like. Curate a blend of modern instrumental music or licensed popular hit music that will appeal to each age group. Boomers? They love classic rock. Generation X? Eighties!

  • Hold Times

The data shows that as hold time exceeds two minutes, caller fatigue becomes a critical factor, with two-thirds of callers abandoning a call after two minutes. Once the Easy on Hold team knows your average hold time per caller, your demographics and the types of calls you receive, they can design hold experiences that make perceived hold time seem shorter, which makes your customers happy and keeps them on the call.

Reason for the call

Provide custom content to your caller groups based on why they are calling. Content is heard between songs and can be programmed on a custom schedule, even by time of day: callers interested in your product for the first time can hear about new customer promotions, while callers waiting for technical help can hear advice or tips to inspire them to take a crack at resolving issues on their own. These information streams can be segmented per caller type and blended with these callers’ demographic music tastes for a fantastic customer experience that feels as if it was created just for them.

Virtual smiles

Whatever kind of target messaging you deploy, your callers always want a human connection when they call you. This can be provided by inserting friendly messages such as, “we hope you’re having a great Monday” or “we can’t wait for the weekend – how about you?” When you can’t greet customers in real time, these sorts of greetings sound like you’re right there, prompting an unexpected and refreshing “virtual smile”. It’s a touch only Easy On Hold offers.

Easy on Hold licensed music and voiced message services combine to create unique brand-driven experiences: the company delivers commercial-quality audio productions, industry-leading audio technology, and an easy-to-use dashboard to create and manage content in real-time. Vodia’s all-in-one contact center solution improves agent productivity and customer experience by providing call centers with platform integration, reporting and unified tracking, all to streamline engagement for customers and processes for agents. The combination is simply the industry’s best. Find out more, sales@easyonhold.com, sales@vodia.com.

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