3 Customer Portals – Which One Are You Ignoring?


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You can visit a doctor’s office, hospital or virtually any other physical business office and you will enter a greeting lobby or waiting area of sorts. Much thought will have been given to what you will experience in that entry portal. Several thousand dollars will have been spent to generate that positive impression and enhance that waiting or greeting experience. There will be comfortable furniture, attractive artwork, and maybe even a human being to greet you. As the owner of the business, you may even pass through the lobby every day, and if things don’t look quite right, you will most likely act on it and improve it.

The same could be said for the website, since that is also an important entry portal to the business. Thousands of dollars can easily be spent on making the website attractive as it is indeed another entry portal to the business. But there is another very important point of entry to the business that is commonly overlooked and that is found within the telephone system. Why? The simple answer is that most business owners or even the employees rarely call the business’s main telephone number and attempt to experience what their callers may experience. Or if they do, they certainly don’t do it at the busiest time for that business and in all likelihood are not going to experience what a client experiences while they are on hold.

The telephone system experience can often sour a business / customer relationship for a multitude of reasons if the experience is bad. You need to only ask your doctor what the single biggest complaint is about the medical practice, and the answer will often be associated with the patient’s treatment when calling the practice.
Here are the basic elements in terms of a caller having a negative or positive experience.

1. INITIAL EVENT WHEN THE MAIN PHONE NUMBER IS DIALED: Was the call answered by an Automated Attendant, or by a live human?

a. If answered by an Automated Attendant, (which is certainly a common and often justifiable event) was it designed properly. The design of the Automated Attendant can either enhance the caller experience or ruin it. There are best practices that should be deployed in the creation of the Automated Attendant.

b. If answered by a live operator, how was that experience? Did the person answer with a positive tone? Did the operator speak too fast, in an almost indiscernible manner? There are best practices to be considered in this area also.

2. ON HOLD TREATMENT: If a call is placed on HOLD, the caller is now figuratively speaking, in your lobby. They are waiting, and they are captured. For the most part, they can’t do much else, certainly not on their telephone. They may do other activities, such as drive or work at their computer, but they do need to stay actively engaged in the waiting aspect…..continuing to listen to whatever the business chooses to offer them in their lobby.

a. SILENCE is simply deadly and will cause callers to hang up, perhaps creating lost revenue or a bad impression. SILENCE is akin to furnishing your lobby with………nothing. It’s uncomfortable and statistics show that it creates the impression to the caller that they have been on hold for longer than they really have.

b. MUSIC can be cheap, possibly even free, but is akin to furnishing the lobby with cheap furniture and generic artwork.

c. ON HOLD MESSAGING. On Hold Messaging content can be completely controlled by the business and is akin to how most businesses will choose to design their physical lobby. On Hold Messaging can be educational, informative, promotional, and enhance the brand of the business. Done properly, On Hold Messaging is incredibly inexpensive and provides the most value of any captive audience option, often for the price of a cup of coffee per day.

So if you are a business owner, consider calling your business and see if you are satisfied with this pivotal point of entry into your business. Be aware that if your employees know it is YOU calling, that you will receive favorable treatment beyond what a normal client may receive. So you many want to have a few close friends or associates call. In order to get an accurate assessment, you may want to perform this trial 5-10 times to include peak hours or normal hours. Your experiences may differ depending on these variables.

In summary, there are 3 main points of entry to a business. They include 1) a direct visit to the office or 2) a visit via the Internet (website, Facebook, other social media) or 3) a phone call to your telephone system. Significant investments are required for the first two points of entry mentioned. A relatively low investment in the telephone system point of entry completes the efforts in terms of how your patients or clients experience your business.

Are you ignoring one of the three most important portals to your business or practice? Exploring the 3 portals outlined above will give you the focus to make sure you’re leveraging/maximizing all of your sales opportunities.

Rich Moncure
Since our inception in 1989, On Hold Marketing has grown from a regional studio to a national provider of music and messaging for On Hold and In Store marketing. Being small keeps us nimble and responsive. Our customers eventually get to know all of us on a first name basis, and during business hours your call will be answered by one of us...yes, a real live person.


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