Mark Williamson: Hanging on the Telephone

Mark Williamson: Hanging on the Telephone

Mark Williamson: Hanging on the Telephone

PHMG Sales and Marketing Director Mark Williamson looks at how on-hold marketing technology can transform hold time for hairdressing salons.

The hairdressing industry is all about first impressions.

From the signage outside of your salon to the customer’s hair design, your company’s reputation is dependent on first interactions with your visual identity.

Human buying behaviour is naturally influenced by an organisation’s branding and if it isn’t up to scratch, potential clients can easily be put off from visiting the salon.

But what about how a company sounds?

For example, if inappropriate music is played over the salon’s sound system, it could communicate the wrong values and contradict the desired image the company has worked hard to reinforce using the existing visual marketing.

The same goes for the telephone. The telephone is a key sales tool for hairdressing businesses as appointments tend to be made over the phone, making it a crucial source of inbound leads.

Consequently, if a customer calls a salon and is greeted by an impolite and unprofessional employee, it could prove detrimental. In fact, research of 1,000 British consumers by PHMG discovered 73% would not do business with a company again if their first call was not handled to satisfaction.

Granted, information such as prices, services and team members are usually situated on the salon’s website yet customers are often faced with a message to call to book an appointment. Not to mention 42% of Brits would still rather have their enquiries answered quickly over the phone than look online.

By implementing a set of best-practice guidelines and training employees on how to answer the telephone and deal with the call in a professional manner, it helps to ensure customers are not put off before they even step through the door.


Engagement is key

While shaping employee behaviour is important in preventing lost business, it shouldn’t be the only aspect to consider when executing good call handling.

Hairdressing businesses receive numerous calls per day and it is commonplace for callers to be put on hold while they deal with another customer. Perhaps the staff member needs to check diaries before booking the customer’s appointment or the caller needs to be transferred to their own hairdresser who is working elsewhere.

Hold time is unavoidable and it is often impossible to answer each call immediately. In fact, a study of 3,360 UK businesses by PHMG found hairdressing salons are putting customers on hold for an average of 33.55 seconds per call.

On paper, this may not seem like a long time yet attention spans are getting shorter due to the smartphone revolution. Take the television advert, for example. Originally 30 seconds long, brands are recognising the effectiveness in cutting advertisements down to just 15 seconds to keep viewers engaged.

The same goes for putting a caller on hold. If the customer is left listening to generic sounds, such as poor music or even silence, in that 33.55 seconds, they will simply switch off. Given that further research has found 70% of callers will hang up if faced with silence while on hold, it spells danger for salons if no consideration is given to what customers hear when they telephone the business.

One effective method of evading caller boredom is to employ on-hold marketing – a brand-congruent, bespoke voice and music solution played over the telephone.


Converting dead air

On-hold marketing works by transforming the blank space created by being put on hold into highly-targeted messages. They essentially speak to an attentive audience, allowing customers to assimilate promotional messages in an unobtrusive manner.

These messages can also be tailored to reflect the company image and values already put in place by the existing visual branding to help create a more well-rounded, professional image.


The benefits

Primarily, on-hold marketing serves as a golden opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell your organisation’s products and services.

For example, a caller may ring to book a haircut, only to be made aware of a promotion on a recently-introduced conditioning hair treatment, prompting them to add the service into their appointment.

By promoting the salon environment, how your salon can make them feel or introducing new members of staff, it helps make it clear why the caller should trust your business to provide a first-class, professional service.

If your salon has Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, the messages could also direct callers these pages, not only helping to boost your following but also providing another touchpoint for your brand to connect with your customers.

Choosing an on-hold marketing solution which allows you to regularly update your messaging is key. This way, you can advertise seasonal promotions, such as UV protection products in Summer, services for certain events like Mother’s Day and gift cards for Christmas.


Trust and reassurance

A hairdresser/customer relationship is built on trust but a salon needs to provide reassurance of their professionalism before the client even walks through the door.

With on-hold marketing, it works as an addition to the existing visual branding and ensures businesses don’t fall at the final hurdle from delivering a poor telephone experience.

Given 51% of UK consumers say they feel more valued if they hear a tailor-made voice and music solution while on hold, the benefits are clear. Hairdressers would be well-advised to consider how just how good their business sounds.

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