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Issue Date: Vol. 54, No. 1, January 2014, Posted On: 1/27/2014


Sales Messages 'On Hold' Can Add Volume, And Stifle Competitors


by Len Rashkin
TAGS: Vending Times columnist, OCS sales questions, OCS salespeople, office coffee service, office coffee sales, OCS education, OCS customer service, coffee business, office refreshments, OCS sales training, Len Rashkin, messages on hold, using telephone-on-hold messaging, advertising on phone

The coffee service industry provides operators with many tools for advertising and promoting their products at low cost. I've been preaching this sermon for 46 years to audiences at convention seminars, company training sessions and (as longtime readers will recall) columns in trade magazines. These simple solutions help you keep your company name in front of your customers.

One area that is extremely effective is advertising on your telephone, using telephone-on-hold messaging.

A CNN survey found that that 70% of callers in the United States who hold the line with silence at the other end hang up within 60 seconds. Meanwhile, research by North American Telecom found callers who hear a message and music on hold will stay on the line 30 seconds longer than those who experience nothing but silence.

Connection Magazine stated, "callers will stay on-hold 130% longer with information on-hold." Recently, I needed to call a few OCS firms. When I was put on hold, waiting for the owners to take my call, only two of the four companies had a "message on hold" feature incorporated into their phone systems.

Perception is very important, so let your customers and prospective clients know that you are a sizable company with the resources to provide them with a wide selection of products and services. If you don't, you're vulnerable to a competitor who tells your customers what it provides -- usually items that they did not know your company can supply.

Getting started is easy; just do an Internet search for "telephone on-hold messaging." There are numerous companies all over the country that specialize in creating messages-on-hold and many that can provide inexpensive playback equipment to attach to your current telephone system.

Following are some categories to incorporate into messages.

"Thank you for calling ________ Coffee & Water Service. We love being your one-stop source for all of your refreshment needs. We offer a complete selection of hot beverages, including gourmet coffees, teas, hot chocolate, soups, soft drinks, filtered and spring water. Our water cooler service includes filtered water, as well as 5-gallon spring water bottle service.

"Coffee, coffee, everywhere and lots of cups to drink. We have a wide assortment of specialty coffees from around the world. Our coffees range from light to dark roast, decaf, flavored, espresso to cappuccinos. Branded coffees, including Maxwell House, Folgers, Lavazza, Keurig K-Cup-affiliated brands, Flavia beverages and Tassimo beverage selections -- we have it all! Our single-cup brewers allow you to make one cup at a time, so your staff will now have choices of what to drink. Ask our telephone customer service rep for a free one-week trial in your office. We will supply you with the coffee brewer that is best for you and your employees, along with a wide selection of coffees, hot chocolate, soups and teas. We have it all, and thanks for holding."

THE POWER OF SUGGESTION

"Cooler weather is upon us, and we are pleased to offer you a wide assortment of your favorite hot beverages. Try our delicious line of hot chocolate drinks, including Swiss Miss or Carnation cocoa. We offer regular, diet and fat-free to satisfy all your employees. Our full line of branded teas includes Lipton, Tetley, Bigelow and Celestial Seasonings; and for a change of pace, try our Lipton Cup O'Soups. Be sure to order our extended-life portion-controlled creamers and milk from Land O'Lakes, as well as extended shelf-life Parmalat selections that include regular, 2% and lowfat milks. A representative will be with you shortly.

"We are your one source for all your paper, plastic and janitorial needs. We will provide you with a full line of paper hot and cold cups, as well as plates, napkins, utensils, towels, toilet tissue, Kleenex, plastic garbage bags and a whole lot more. Ask us about our cleaning supplies, including Fantastik, Clean-That-Pot, Windex, Soft Scrub, sponges and many other maintenance supplies. Thanks for holding; a representative will be right with you."

"We can supply you with a full line of iced cold beverages, including Coke, Pepsi and juice products, along with selection of cookie and bagged snack selections. If you want a special-request item, just ask our representative and we will get it for you. Our vending division can provide your company with snack and beverage vending machines. Just ask our representative for further information. We accept American Express, MasterCard and Visa for your corporate purchases, for you to rack up those free miles from your favorite airline. Someone will be with you shortly."

Keep in mind that your message-on-hold is not intended to be heard in its entirety; the caller should be connected to one of your representatives well before the message ends (if the caller isn't connected, he or she most likely will hang up -- and you could potentially lose a present client or a potential new one. With that in mind, get going, and you will see your allied sales grow.

If you need to bounce any ideas off me, please call me at (516) 241-4883 or email me at ocsconsultant@aol.com. I want to wish all of my readers a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.


LEN RASHKIN is a pioneer in office coffee service. He founded Coffee Sip in 1968 and later merged it with Dell Coffee. He also founded the Eastern Coffee Service Association and National Beverage & Products Association.


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