Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

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Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
September 15, 2016

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Dorgard Pro: Holding fire doors open – until the alarm sounds

Muzak, beeps, even silence when on hold: the sorry state of call handling in the security industry

More than half of security firms leave callers on hold with nothing but generic holding music, a survey by audio branding specialist PHMG has revealed.

A further 20% subject callers to beeps, while 11% leave them in total silence and 10% abandon them to the sound of ringing, according to the poll of 238 firms in the industry.

A mere 1% follow latest best practice by employing brand-consistent voice and music messaging – a lower proportion than the 2% national average. In a 2007 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology two Israeli academics found that callers hung up less frequently if they were given clear information about their place in line.

The research also revealed that the vast majority – 96% – of security firms fail to deploy auto-attendant messaging to greet customers who call them outside of normal working hours.

“Generic music, beeps, ringing or silence convey a message that the customer is not valued, which will only serve to compound any annoyance felt as a result of being made to wait on hold.” Mark Williamson, sales and marketing director, PHMG

Mark Williamson, sales and marketing director at PHMG, said: “Call handling remains a critically undervalued element of customer service and marketing. A previous study of 1,000 UK consumers found 73% will not do business with a company again if their first call isn’t handled satisfactorily.

“Therefore, it is important companies do their utmost to improve the experience. The research shows there is still work to be done in providing an experience that keeps callers engaged and entertained.

“Generic music, beeps, ringing or silence convey a message that the customer is not valued, which will only serve to compound any annoyance felt as a result of being made to wait on hold.”

Despite the growing sophistication of the science of call handling the prevalence of this counterproductive approach has actually increased by 34% since a similar study in 2013. However, there has been a modest 1% rise in the number using brand-consistent voice and music.

“The trends over the past three years suggest security firms believe generic music is enough to keep callers entertained but this can actually have the opposite effect,” continued Williamson. “An existing, generic piece of music should not be repurposed to convey a message it was never intended to, as its characteristics may not match those of the company.

“Hearing is one of our most powerful emotional senses so the sounds customers hear when they call a business will create a long-lasting impression. Every element of a music track, whether tempo, pitch or instrumentation, will stir different emotions so traders should ensure they convey the appropriate brand image.”

A few years ago ex-installer Mike Lynskey penned an advice article on this very subject for IFSEC Global.

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