Builders’ merchants’ call handling standards have come into question as the result of a major new study into telephone practice. The research conducted by audio branding specialist PHMG, who audited 102 firms in the industry, discovered the large majority risk losing custom by subjecting customers to generic music and audio while on hold.
Typically, waiting on hold is seen as a major bugbear but 48 per cent of merchants still leave customers listening to nothing but generic music. A further 34 per cent subject callers to beeps, while 13 per cent leave them in silence and one per cent force them to listen to ringing.
Only two per cent employ brand-consistent voice and music messaging – viewed as the best practice approach to handling calls – which is equal to the national average.
Mark Williamson, Sales and Marketing Director at PHMG, said: “Call handling remains a critically undervalued element of customer service and marketing. A previous study of 1,000 UK consumers found 73 per cent will not do business with a company again if their first call isn’t handled satisfactorily.
“Therefore, it is important companies do their utmost to improve the experience. The research shows there is still work to be done in providing an experience that keeps callers engaged and entertained.
“Generic music, beeps, ringing or silence convey a message that the customer is not valued, which will only serve to compound any annoyance felt as a result of being made to wait on hold.”
The research also found 98 per cent of builders’ merchants do not even use auto attendant messaging to greet customers who call up outside of normal working hours.
It also seems call handling standards have not significantly improved when comparing the results to a similar study conducted in 2013. The number of companies playing repetitive music has increased by 17 per cent during that period while the number using brand-consistent voice and music has increased by just two per cent.
“The trends over the past three years suggest merchants believe generic music is enough to keep callers entertained but this can actually have the opposite effect,” added Williamson.
“An existing, generic piece of music should not be repurposed to convey a message it was never intended to, as its characteristics may not match those of the company.
Hearing is one of our most powerful emotional senses so the sounds customers hear when they call a business will create a long-lasting impression. Every element of a music track, whether tempo, pitch or instrumentation, will stir different emotions so traders should ensure they convey the appropriate brand image.”