If you’re a company who receives high call volumes, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword – good that you’re so popular, but bad because keeping callers happy in a queue is a bit of a challenge.

You’ve likely heard statistics banded around like:

  • 90% of customers feel fed up by the end of the call
  • 60% of callers say they find IVR systems “deeply frustrating”
  • 30% of callers inexplicably hit random buttons or hang up

Here’s the thing: nobody likes being on hold. Everybody’s time is precious, and they don’t want to spend it listening to dreary empty promises or second rate elevator music. They hate being told their call is important to you because, if it was, they’d be speaking to somebody already, and the tone of your IVR will influence your customer’s mood, directly affecting how they communicate with your call agents.

We all know this, yet so many brands let themselves down by having poor quality messages that lead customers on a confused journey. Sometimes companies get so inundated with calls that they even lead their callers to a dead end, knowing the call will be disconnected – and we’re not even joking!

1. Set the tone

Your company’s tone of voice needs to be consistent throughout every avenue. Remember, the customer journey doesn’t start when they reach your agent, but from the moment they dial your number. Being aware of why your customers generally call allows you to provide messages appropriate to their mood, because coming across as super happy when your callers needs may be sensitive, or vice-versa, could risk offending them.

2. Make it easy

If you have a list of 17 different options, the chances are your callers will randomly swipe at buttons in frustration. This will take them to the wrong department, which will waste man-hours to discover what they want and then redirect them. Instead of this, take the time to make sure you offer the right options that land callers to the right place at the first time of trying. Also, if it’s possible for the caller to self-serve online, make sure they’re acutely aware of it, but give them an option to stay on the call if they still want to speak to someone.

3. Be consistent

Ever been on a call where each message is voiced by somebody different? By the time you get through to a person, it can feel like you’ve been on a real journey, which can make you feel fobbed off and mentally exhausted. Unless there’s a good reason to have more than one voice for your audio messages, be consistent so that the caller fells a sense of familiarity whilst on hold, helping them feel more at ease.

4. Maintain your standards

There is little worse than hearing audio messages from members of staff who sound like they have stage fright with a whole load of background noise in the background. What kind of message does this send about your company? Are you likely to entice new clients if you appear like you cut corners? Crisp sounding audio read by professional actors makes the world of difference, and something as simple as the wrong inclination within a word can be the difference between a customer being happy or taking their business elsewhere.

5. Be creative

Customers understand that due to high call volumes, they’re likely to have to hold for a little while. Generally, they’re absolutely fine with that as long as they don’t have to wait for excessive amounts of time or continuously repeat the same information. Therefore, why not use the time they are on hold to assert your brand personality and, dare we say it, have a little fun? For example, we installed the song Love Train on the customer complaint line at Virgin Trains, and many callers admitted it made them chuckle. It worked because it was in-keeping with the brand, and anything that improves your customer’s mood needs to be encouraged.