A disruptive opportunity for resellers

Anthony Buxton, CEO at PromptVoice, discusses how Hosted on Hold is disrupting the Music on Hold market.

It’s very rare that something truly disruptive comes to market. Many things are called disruptive by marketeers but actually are not. What services are truly disruptive and have changed the market they operate in … maybe Uber, cloud-based telephony, SIP or more recently Teams or Zoom? Recent innovations are disrupting the Music on Hold market and creating a great new revenue opportunity for the telecoms channel.

Ask an IT/Comms professional what a phone system does, and they’ll say it routes calls from one place to another efficiently.  Ask a marketing professional the same question, and they’ll say it’s a customer interface, just like a website. So what? Well, early websites were managed by IT departments, but as user-friendly administration tools (e.g.  Wordpress)  became available, website administration migrated to marketing departments. As premise-based telephony systems are replaced with user-friendly cloud-based systems, marketing staff will at the least be influencers in the purchasing decision for phone systems, and may even become the primary business decision makers. Those UC and telephony vendors who recognise the different perspective of marketeers, and who include customer experience enhancing functions such as streaming Music on Hold and professional menu recordings will gain a competitive advantage.

Does Music on Hold really have value?

Papa John’s, one of the world’s top five pizza franchises, ran a trial to evaluate whether playing callers targeted, personalised messages would affect their behaviour. The results were astounding. In the pizza world, average time to abandon is short… averaging 29 seconds. Callers think that if it takes a long time to answer the phone, the pizza will take ages to arrive. The trial tested whether giving someone an appropriate offer encouraged them to queue for longer. It also assessed whether playing a targeted promotion based on the caller’s profile for the ‘next most likely upsell’ was more effective than playing a random upsell offer. Against a control group, average time to abandon increased by 79% to 52 seconds meaning that 7% more calls were answered. Similarly, targeted adverts were found to be three times more effective that random upsell messages, resulting in a 5% increase in average sale. Combined, this produced more than a 12% increase in sales, a value many times more than the cost of the whole phone system, lines and calls.

Why were callers’ behaviours altered so much by such a small change? The answer is timing. The callers were presented with a tempting offer at exactly the right time… immediately before they were connected. Few advertising media have the benefit of knowing the promotion will be played to the caller when they are most influenceable. MOH is the telephony equivalent of the confectionary rack at the supermarket checkout, which is the most valuable shelf space in the whole supermarket due to its ability to encourage impulse purchases. So effective is it that the UK government is considering banning unhealthy sweets from being promoted on these racks as part of its anti-obesity initiative.

In the pizza trial, with such compelling results, you might wonder why such targeted MOH marketing is not prevalent. It’s because deployment of the solution was too technically complex as each shop had its own phone system. However, with the advent of cloud-based telephony, and PromptVoice’s innovative streaming Hosted on Hold solution, this barrier is overcome.

Is a phone system really a revenue generating tool?

How much time do callers spend queueing? We all know (and are frustrated by) the length of time we spend in contact centre queues, but it’s difficult to state an average. Strange how sales lines seem to be amply staffed, but customer service queues are always suffering from ‘exceptional demand’ and long queues. However, it is not unusual for medium sized call centres (50-250 seats) to queue callers for tens of thousands of hours a year… time to play millions of targeted in-queue messages. In a contact centre environment, such messages may be best focussed on encouraging customers to try self-service options, or answer the ‘most likely reason for calling’ based on CRM profile data.

And what about for calls to SMEs? A recent study by Premier CX, an agency specialising in telephony caller experience, analysed 1.4 million calls to SMEs and discovered that a staggering 20% of the total call duration was spent on hold.

This time is very valuable. Indeed some might argue that a phone system is no longer a cost, but a revenue generating marketing application which just happens to route calls efficiently!

Many commentators have predicted that the rise of other channels will be at the expense of the telephony channel, with fewer calls being made. However, research by BT and others suggests that while simpler transactions will be completed over the web, on apps or by AI chat systems, the demand to speak to a human to discuss more complex or sensitive issues will not reduce. Call queues are here to stay, and forward-thinking companies should continue to seek ways to improve caller experience, and those that do not will see customer satisfaction levels fall.


Anthony Buxton has been in the telephony and call centre industry for over 20 years, with C-level roles at companies offering telephony speech recognition, cloud-hosted contact centre and telephony audio-branding. As CEO of PromptVoice, he is a visionary in the field of telephony caller experience. He discussed the points raised in this article in more detail in a recent Comms Business webinar. You can watch that on demand here





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