One of the main drags of phoning any company is being put on hold.
Always the same recorded responses:
"All of our operators are busy."
"We are experiencing high call volume."
"Someone will be with you shortly."
"Your call is important to us."
And always the same annoying music over and over.
One company decided to change that experience.
Myer is one of Australia’s biggest department stores.
Last year, it had to put 600,000 calls on hold.
Forty per cent of those callers hung up before their call was answered.
That’s nearly a quarter-of-a-million dissatisfied customers.
Myer decided it was time to do something about it.
So now when you call Myer, you still get put on hold, like any company.
You still hear music, like any company.
A voice still says "Thank you for your patience, your call is important to us", like any company.
But then something very different happens.
The voice says: "And now here at Myer, it’s also important to families affected by domestic violence as well."
That’s a stopper.
Then the voice goes on to explain.
"That’s because every second you wait, this hold music you’re listening to is generating a royalty that Myer donates directly to The Salvation Army."
So by holding on, you’re making money for charity.
Suddenly, holding on the phone doesn’t seem so bad.
In fact, you’re not wasting time – you’re doing something worthwhile.
The voice continues.
"From everyone at Myer and The Salvation Army, thank you again for your patience and the donation you are now generating by just holding on the line."
Now you feel better about waiting.
Because now you’re generating money to help families in trouble.
Finally, the voice says: "Your call will be answered shortly."
Just the way it would when you’re put on hold by any company.
But this time, you don’t feel so bad about holding on.
And when your call is finally answered, you’re in a good mood instead of being angry at waiting.
You have a good feeling about yourself and a good feeling about the company.
Myer found that its rate for abandoned calls dropped from 40% to just 5%.
That’s seven out of every eight people choosing to hold on rather than hang up.
Because they felt better about being asked to wait.
As long as it wasn’t just wasted time.
That’s a really creative way to handle the situation.
Don’t ignore it.
Every dropped call is an opportunity to lose a customer to a competitor.
So get upstream, and change the problem into an opportunity.
A chance to make your customers feel good.
Being put on hold then becomes a productive use of their time instead of just a waste of time.
Dave Trott is the author of Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three