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Develop Your Coronavirus Contact Center Strategy

Coronavirus Calls Overwhelm Contact Centers: Easy On Hold Offers Tips and New Technology for Helping Worried Inbound Callers Get Answers Fast

Corporate Integrated Crisis Communications Strategies Should Include the Phone

Business telephone message company Easy On Hold says the telephone remains one of the fastest, most effective tools for communicating with customers during a crisis. The coronavirus outbreak is such a crisis. If you are a pr, marketing or crisis manager, you should consider your phones as part of your overall communications strategy. Use the latest streaming phone on hold technology for faster information updates for callers.

“The coronavirus scare is causing certain segments of our customer base to be overwhelmed with inbound calls from worried customers,” says Easy On Hold CEO Julie Cook Brown.

Callers are reaching out to get immediate answers and to talk with a real human. If the contact center isn’t properly staffed, however, calls are put on hold. What information should callers hear while waiting?

Think through all the possible caller expectations and messaging that you may possibly need in a crisis:

  • contact center staffing and training
  • phone tree design
  • recordings you’ll require
  • how you’ll implement recordings

Many companies want their customers and stakeholders to know that they do have a robust communications plan in place. Easy On Hold is coaching clients to focus on four aspects when it comes to managing callers:

  • Be Current
  • Be Brief
  • Be Repetitive
  • Get in Front of It

IVR, Automated Attendant Voice Greetings Opportunity

Be current with your auto attendant design — your phone tree greetings. Redesign the automated call experience to answer the inbound caller’s crisis expectations. Instead of the usual “press one for customer service,” try “press one to find out the latest coronavirus news.” Keep IVR phone greetings updated and accurate. You might even want to establish a separate hotline number just for the crisis. Take charge, be your own newsdesk, own it.

Messages On Hold Communications

Make sure that phone on hold messages are current, too. Use hold time to manage an influx of calls. If the music and the messages you’re playing don’t reflect the mood of the caller or the information they’re waiting for, your brand will sound disconnected and uncaring. Read through your current hold messages and remove those that give the caller the impression that it’s just business as usual. Make sure you’re working with a good producer who can massage the creative content so it’s appropriate for the current situation.

Be brief means that your phone messages — auto-attendant and on-hold messaging — are to the point, not overly wordy, and use simple language. The human ear can only handle so much verbal information at once, especially in times of stress. Try to keep ideas simple, conversational, instructive, and sympathetic to how callers may be feeling. Use the phone on hold opportunity to drive them to your website or your social media for a deeper dive.

During long hold times, repetition can be a good thing. If you have information that’s critical to the caller, repeat it often. Say it different ways so it sticks. Callers are coming in and out of the hold experience. Hold times vary. Make sure 50% of the message on hold content answers questions about the crisis. With Easy On Hold streaming algorithms, you can schedule, in real-time, high-importance messages to play more often than other less important topics.

Coronavirus Contact Center Strategy: Get Ahead Of a Crisis

Get in front of it. Think through all of your possible messaging scenarios. Get your coronavirus messaging scripted and recorded. By using streaming phone on hold content, you can create crisis messaging scenarios in advance. They can play on a certain schedule or on the fly, for callers on hold. Streaming on hold also allows you to program emergency messages to play more often than other content. In a crisis situation, that’s important control for the corporate communications team.

Crisis Communications Should Include Phone On Hold Messages

Phone on hold messaging should be part of your integrated crisis communications strategy. Easy On Hold CEO Julie Cook Brown has such a strategy in place for a health care client in Florida. “We pre-recorded hurricane closures and special instructions for patients,” Cook Brown says. “The recordings are archived in their customer dashboard, but at any time, they can just press ‘play’ and they automatically go live in their hold stream.”

The same approach works for IVR. Your phone techs can download pre-recorded auto-attendant / IVR greetings and load them in the telephone system software to keep the phone tree prompts updated too.

Businesses that manage the caller experience will earn trust and loyalty, and maintain control of their brand messaging. Callers want information fast and that’s why they picked up the phone to talk to you.

So until a live person can talk with them, respond to callers with confidence. Your pre-recorded and timely information will let them know you’ve thought of everything — because you expected their call.


About Easy On Hold: Easy On Hold is a leading provider of on hold and overhead business music and messaging, including scriptwriting, voice-overs, editing, same-day turnarounds, and telecom expertise. Created in 1997, the company is the architect of the telecom industry’s first on hold streaming solution in 2013, with dynamic scheduling features that simplify the work of both technicians and marketers. The company just earned Solution Partner status by Cisco in February 2020 for its creation of a streaming queue music solution for users of Cisco’s VVB contact center product. EOH’s streaming on hold technology is compatible with most contact center platforms.