Stop Trying to Sell me Shit While I’m on Hold

Nobody likes holding. Nobody likes being force-fed muzak and told:

Your call is important to us.

But there’s an even worse fate that can befall your captive lugs.

Being told how important your call is and then being pitched to.

I’m on hold with Bell Canada when the voice tells me:

Streamline your business communications with Bell*.

But I’m in a bottleneck, on hold.

For your extra convenience you can contact us by email.

If I wanted to email you, I probably wouldn’t have called.

Bell offers a wide array of services and products including voice systems…

I’m on hold on your voice system, thanks.

To help you stay productive and minimize business down time.

Hmmn I’m not feeling very productive right now.

Who thinks this stuff up?

Let’s take the opportunity while customers are frustrated because they’re on hold...and sell them something!

What’s the logic here?

Engaging with the customer at every touch point?

Because I’m pretty sure the hold line is never a positive emotional experience for the holdee.

Once I was in a meeting with national Canadian brand when the subject of their hold line came up.

I suggested looking at things from a different perspective.

Maybe something like this:

Hi, we’re a really busy company and we can’t take your call right now.

And because we value your business, and know you can’t really hang up we are not going to try to sell you anything.

So here’s some entertainment while you’re waiting.

For jazz press 1.

For classical press 2.

For hip-hop press 3.

For stand-up press 4.

If you really want to find out more about our services press 5.

This suggestion was well received but sadly never implemented.

If it had been, I’m guessing less that 2% of callers would press 5.

Much less.

I don’t know why hold lines don’t work like this.

(If anyone knows one that does work like this, do let me know.)

I think it would generate a significant amount of good will and maybe some positive word of mouth.

Perhaps the problem is too many marketing people have actually never sold anything in person.

Never worked in a market or shop, sold door to door, or done telesales.

They may be great with strategies and metrics, but don't know much about sales psychology and how to close a sale.

But the guys who sell hold line programming, are apparently stellar salespeople.

Because they persuade company after company to piss off 100% of customers on hold, for what I’m guessing, if it’s even calculable, is an infinitesimal conversion rate.

The other day I called Rogers to cancel my cable.

The cable box had stopped working for the third time in twelve months.

All they ever say is bring it in and we’ll replace it.

I tired of explaining that since it was their product that was habitually defective, maybe they should deliver a replacement.

The logic of this seemed to escape them, so they put me on hold waiting to cancel the account.

I got this:

Love to text message all your friends or stay in touch with an easy to use touch screen phone -- Rogers has the hottest wireless devices. Check out*

Of course, as soon as I cancel my cable I just can’t wait to buy a smart phone from you. Wait I’ll take two!

This doesn’t seem like a great cross selling tactic to me.

Ironically for two companies in the “communications” business, both Bell and Rogers seem completely oblivious to the notion that communication begins with listening.

Rogers in particular confuses noise with signal, which is especially irritating because they own the cables, and play their own excruciatingly lame commercials at least ten percent louder than anyone else’s.

They always deny this, but everyone I know who has Rogers cable scrambles for the volume button the second one of their monstrosities comes on.

Even the government regulatory body, the CRTC,  has had to acknowledge the issue of excessive volume levels of Canadian commercials.

And the dinosaurs still don’t get it.

Noise doesn’t lead to sales.

Haranguing someone is not salesmanship.

And haranguing someone on hold, with no out option, is just as bad as spamming them.

Actually it's much worse.

* Transcriptions may not be 100% verbatim due to my slow typing.