Industry Comment

What can you do in 28 seconds?

Mark Williamson (pictured), Sales and Marketing Director at PHMGinvestigates how electrical wholesalers can cut the dead air of a call on hold and transform it into a targeted marketing practice.


n the grand scheme of things, almost half a minute doesn’t seem like a vast amount of time, but a lot can happen in that small

window. A text can be sent. A bill can be paid. The list is endless. It is also enough time for an electrical wholesaler

to lose custom. Perhaps an employee was impolite or they didn’t seem to have any knowledge of electrical products. It’s going to put the customer off making a purchase. The same goes over the telephone. Electrical wholesalers have been found to keep customers on hold for an average of 28.82 seconds per call, and what they hear during that first experience with the business can have a huge influence on overall perceptions. With independent research revealing that almost three-quarters of Brits would avoid buying from a company again if their first call isn’t handled properly, it demonstrates the importance of providing prospects with a positive experience from their very first call.

Power up your marketing Most businesses have every intention of answering a call instantly – yet this isn’t always possible. Staff members could be busy with customers or handling stock, meaning the caller has to be put on hold until their call can be dealt with. Playing a popular music track is often a go-to for

many companies when it comes to what callers hear while on hold. However, using a pre-existing song is like making a square peg fit into a round hole. Not only can it convey a completely different

message to what your brand represents, but music tracks also come with preconceived notions, so if a caller associates negative feelings with a song, these can then be mirrored onto the brand. Generic sounds like irritating beeps or repetitive

‘please hold’ messages should be avoided too, as should using silence. Callers do not want to feel like what they hear on hold is designed purely to placate and pacify. Instead, electrical wholesalers should look to employ brand-congruent messages to help engage, entertain and transform the telephone into highly-effective marketing tool.

Make the telephone electric If callers hear sounds that aren’t reflective of a company, it could prove damaging. By using relevant voice and music, on-hold messages can echo specific company values, using elements such

as age and pitch to influence customer behaviour and strengthen the brand image. In fact, recent research amongst British consumers discovered 60 per cent of respondents believe music is more memorable when used in marketing, making one wholesaler stand out from the rest. Highly-targeted on-hold messages extend far

beyond a simple request to continue holding. Instead, they transform the ‘dead air’ created by hold time into an opportunity to communicate key information in a more personal way. The message content also provides a chance to upsell and cross-sell products and services. A prospect may only be calling to enquire about one item but the on-hold messages can highlight the other brands they stock, the company’s repair department or available warranties. Messages can also build consumer trust and

reinforce a wholesaler’s green credentials, promoting services like on-site recycling for WEEE or secure asset disposal. It is also important to refresh your on-hold

marketing on a regular basis. Repeating the same message can cause sound fatigue so by updating content ensures customers stay engaged while keeping them informed about upcoming discounts or seasonal items such as heaters or cooling fans.

The implications for profitability are clear. By

transforming hold time into a key communication tool, electrical wholesalers can take action to reduce caller hang-ups and strengthen the marketing mix. 36 | electrical wholesalerJune 2019

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