Featured Editorial - Wednesday August 1, 2007

Reducing Caller Abandonment
One of the problems inbound call centers face everyday is containing a caller while on-hold until they are redirected to the next available operator. Typically, callers will abandon a call within so many seconds of holding. Research has found that there are some simple things a call center or company office can do to decrease caller abandonment, and increase caller hold times.


Reducing Caller Abandonment

Mike Weiner
The Image Generators, Inc.

Imagine the costs of marketing, branding, advertising, and lead-generation activities for your company. The chances are it is pretty high. All of that expensive activity done just to get the phone to ring at your call center. It could be millions of dollars, claims Mike Weiner, President and CEO of The Image Generators, Inc.

Now imagine one of those callers responding to all that expensive advertising dialing in to your call center, and of course they hear a message "Our operators are currently busy-- your call will be answered in the order....." Then, they are placed in a queue, and left to wait. Some call centers are semi-conscious about placing music to play on hold, others literally leave their callers in dead silence, and some others use that time proactively to reinforce the branding messages that brought those calls into your center.

If your call center isn't considered an integral piece of the marketing mix, then a huge gap exists between the marketing and advertising department, and yours, Weiner warns.

Weiner suggests this is an opportunity for you as a call center manager to raise the consciousness at your company's senior levels about making sure your messaging to callers, even while they are on-hold, have continuity with each other. In fact, if you aren’t on the marketing team as part of the branding creation, you should be! Weiner claims, often times, the scripts are written for operators, but what happens between the phone pickup and the time a live person arrives can be a huge Grand Canyon-like abyss. If you aren’t aware of what is happening in marketing in order to implement changes, then the abyss wins. 

Weiner's solution is to incorporate some form of advertising on-hold messaging or music. That has the effect of keeping waiting callers fairly content and patient—to a point. Weiner says, one major company tested the effects of on-hold messaging versus silence and discovered a nearly 75% increase in holding times with messaging. Caller abandonment went down, and the company intelligently mixed specific messages to each call center to allow for geographical differences. In fact, other research efforts have demonstrated the same impact, and then some. Impulse sales increased. Cost/Benefit ratio is pennies that could lead to hundreds of dollars.

Weiner feels the real challenge comes into play when understanding your company’s ‘Audio Branding”. How does your company “Sound” to your callers? Are you mixing in the right elements that portray your company’s values, mission, value proposition? Weiner states that we live in a society where 55% of the population is Visual, 37% is Auditory, and 8 percent is Kinesthetic. When someone responds to a stimulus such as advertising (TV, Radio, Print, Internet, whatever) and calls, the only sense they can use is Auditory.

Weiner says, how you sound is as important as how you look as a company, advising, test your call center’s effectiveness: Outside of the office, find 10 people unrelated to the company or your job, and ask them if you mind them calling in to your call center as if they were a customer. While they are calling (you want to be there so you can see their faces when they call), look for signs of disinterest, boredom, impatience, anger, or some kind of motion, facial expression, or body language. If you get those signals, you need to look into the audio branding your company is sending out. Sure, it’s really Marketing’s job to do all this, but many people in that department are looking at other things that, to them, are more pressing.

Weiner concludes that taking the initiative to bridge the abyss intelligently with your marketing department can make a tremendous impact on the bottom line. Just don’t forget to take the credit for building the bridge—it could lead to some nice places for you. The fact is, many well-meaning companies and call centers are so focused on the mechanics, technology and the day to day management of their operations, they don’t pay attention to the intangible “Audio Branding” of their customer relationship management.


About Mike Weiner :
In 1985, Mike Weiner left the broadcasting industry to become a voiceover and production company. The Image Generators have produced thousands of sales, marketing, training, educational and entertainment programs for all media.

About The Image Generators, Inc. :
The Image Generators’ slogan is "We Make You Sound Great!". From Telemmercials(r) on-hold advertising to radio, TV, Internet (WebTALK(r)) talking pages. As an Audio Branding company, TIG offers consultative approaches to corporate branding in the Auditory realm.

Date Published: Wednesday, August 01, 2007