Is Your On-hold Message a Turn-Off?

by | Dec 23, 2015 | Marketing | 0 comments

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When a customer takes the time to call you, the last thing they want is a seemingly endless on-hold process. They’re busy people, like you. They want to get to the right person promptly and efficiently.

You Had Me at ‘Hello’… But Lost Me at ‘Please Hold’
When a customer takes the time to call you, the last thing they want is a seemingly endless on-hold process. They’re busy people, like you. They want to get to the right person promptly and efficiently.
Of course most of the time, a brief pause between calling and reaching the right person is unavoidable. Sometimes your caller might have to wait in a queue, or go through an automated menu, or hold until the appropriate person is back from a meeting.
And that’s when a really smart on-hold process proves its worth.
Let’s start with the obvious: what’s the best voice to use for on-hold messages? Is it male or female? Assertive or informative?
Back in 2010, Harris Interactive carried out an extensive survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults to find out whether they preferred male or female voices in advertising. Generally, the findings suggested that male voices were seen as more forceful while female voices are more soothing.
Additionally, their top-level results showed:
– Almost half (48%) believe a male voice is more forceful while 46% believe a female voice is more soothing;
– Almost two-thirds (64%) say the voice’s gender makes no difference in persuasion. Of the remaining percentage, 19% say a female voice is more persuasive compared to 18% for a male voice;
– Over half of men (54%) believe a female voice is more soothing, compared to 38% of women who say the same. On the other hand, 11% of women believe a male voice is more soothing while 5% of men say the same.
Confusing, isn’t it?
However given that a female’s voice is generally considered more “soothing”, this could be the ideal candidate for on-hold messaging. After all, you don’t want to scare off potential customers.
A separate study, as reported by Wired earlier this year, also suggests that a female voice is generally more appealing for callers. Jessi Hempel claims that it’s all down to social science and its impact on business: “By and large, people tend to respond more positively to women’s voices.”
Focusing on male vs female voices in smartphone apps like Siri, the article cites Karl MacDorman, an associate professor at Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing and a specialist in human-computer interaction. He claims that based on their own research, “there’s likely to be greater acceptance of female speech” when it comes to automated processes.
Again, this could be favorable for recorded messages and automated caller menus.
But remember, it can’t be just any voice. Ideally the tone should align with your brand’s personality and objectives. For instance, if you’re keen to create a local presence in a specific city or region, you may consider asking a speaker with a local dialect or accent to record your messages.
On the other hand, national or international firms may opt for a more neutral approach to convey a nationwide presence. If you work regularly with callers for whom your primary language is not their mother tongue, you should ensure your messages are neutral, spoken clearly and with careful enunciation.
Ultimately, your choice of recorded message will always come back to your individual business, taking various factors into account such as your line of work, your target audience, your approach, your location, and the general message you want to convey. We’ll be looking closer at this topic over the next few weeks. In the meantime if you have any thoughts or experiences of your own, let us know by contacting us on Twitter or Facebook.
 
Source: Alliance Virtual Offices

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