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Business Oracle

Finding Your Company's Voice

Help your company find its voice. Mark Williamson, Sales and Marketing Director at PH Media Group, explains how printers can use sound to boost their marketing mix.

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Mark Williamson, sales and marketing director at PH Media Group

Making the right call

By this point, few people need to be convinced about the value of visual branding. Even less so in the printing industry, where the power of good visuals is central to its very purpose.

However, few companies give any consideration to how they sound. This imbalance is problematic because a sizeable investment might be wasted if they are faced with a disjointed, unprofessional call handling experience.

Recent research conducted among 1,000 British consumers discovered 73 per cent would not do business with a company again if their first call was not handled in a satisfactory manner.

The same study made particularly grim reading for printers because only 18 per cent of consumers are currently satisfied with the way they handle customer calls.

So what’s the solution?

The first step is an incredibly simple one. By providing employees with training on how to answer calls and giving them guidelines  about how to respond to specific queries, it is possible to quickly tighten up call handling practice.

But it’s impossible to answer every call immediately. Despite best intentions, customers will often need to be put on hold if further information is required to answer their query or they must be transferred to another member of staff.

A study of call handling practice among printers in the UK found they put callers on hold for an average of 33.52 seconds per call, which compares unfavourably to the UK average of 33.48 seconds. During this time, the customer has only their ears as a tool for formulating an initial judgment.

Turning hold time to a positive

In order to improve call retention and more effectively convert warm leads into sales, it is essential to control what callers hear while on hold and ensure they are kept entertained and engaged during that time.

It is essential to control what callers hear while on hold and ensure they are kept entertained and engaged during that time

This doesn’t mean playing generic ‘please hold’ messages on a continuous loop but rather working with a trusted supplier to create bespoke on-hold marketing messages that are played whenever callers are put on hold, transferred or call outside of normal office hours.

These messages could be used to provide background information on your company but, equally, could be used to boost product awareness and up-sell or cross-sell products and services.

For example, a customer calling to enquire about a simple leaflet print job might also be provided with information about design and branding services for stationery or exhibition displays. Reassurance can be delivered by offering information on environmental credentials or 24-hour operations to meet tight deadlines, building a perception of professionalism and trust. 

Find your voice

Essential to effective on-hold marketing messages is the selection of appropriate voice and music. It doesn’t suffice to simply ask an employee to voice the messages, the voice and music must be carefully chosen to reinforce specific brand values.

Currently, most operators in the print industry opt for a feminine voice and conversational tone, conveying a sense of welcoming, friendly service. But a masculine voice may be more appropriate for certain companies, as it is generally perceived to be authoritative and professional, and regional accents can help firms with a strong regional identity to assure customers they understand them.

When it comes to music, attributes such as volume, pitch and tempo can all affect what kind of emotional response a track provokes. It is advisable to steer clear of popular tracks, as they may come with emotional baggage for certain listeners, turning the caller experience into a negative one.

When it comes to music, attributes such as volume, pitch and tempo can all affect what kind of emotional response a track provokes

Whatever way you look at it, the days of Greensleeves are gone. Companies cannot afford to leave callers on hold listening to poor-quality voice and music because the consequences are serious.

When done well, on-hold marketing has been found to reduce hang-ups by 79 per cent, as well as decreasing the perceived amount of time left on hold. Those companies who sound as good as they look gain immediate competitive advantage.

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