In a post at the Neuromarketing blog, Roger Dooley recalls trying to minimize wait times when his company oversaw a small call center. “We knew (from those times when we didn’t have enough staff in place) that the longer callers waited to speak to a representative, the higher the probability was that they would abandon the call,” he says. “And, if they hung up, they might never call back.”
Everyone knows the exasperation of calling a toll-free number only to wait—and wait, and wait—while listening to elevator music, ads for products and services, or disingenuous messages about the importance of your call. “Instead of those common and boring solutions,” suggests Dooley, “try something a little different: building in ‘social proof’ messaging might actually keep callers on the line and, when the call is answered, boost conversion rates.”
In other words, tell callers you can’t answer their call because so many people are clamoring for your product or service. Using this philosophy, Colleen Szot famously tweaked infomercial copy from the standard operators are waiting, please call now to if operators are busy, please call again. “This seemingly trivial change caused sales to skyrocket,” notes Dooley.
How can you give your message some social proof? He offers this example:Due to high order volume during our holiday sale, our wait times are a little longer than usual. Thanks for holding. As a bonus, customer might even feel fortunate if their call is then answered swiftly.
With a social proof strategy, putting your customer on hold might not be such a bad thing. But, warns Dooley, “[t]his kind of message will wear out its welcome over time. Regular rotation is a must.”