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What Callers Hear When They Are Put On Hold?
When was the last time you were put on hold? How long did it take before you became frustrated and hung up? Is that how your prospects feel when they call your firm?. The author of this article shares some ideas on how to avoid this situation.
What do prospects and clients hear when they telephone your firm and are put on hold?
Its not something lawyers think about much but research shows a small investment can buy you a lot of time. And since most callers are put on hold, at least briefly, what happens as they wait is critical to your firms business.
Nearly 90 percent of callers report they hang up after being on silent hold for 40 seconds, according to AT&T and Telecommunication Magazine. Thats important because the average time callers spend on hold at businesses with more than two lines is 55 seconds, according to Qwest, the regional phone company.
Most callers say they hang up because they begin to wonder if their call has become inadvertently lost. Its generally agreed that prospective clients will not call back, particularly if they have another lawyers name on a list of several to whom they have been referred. Clients will try again but that just doubles your receptionists workload and causes unneeded frustration.
If you play music into your phone system your callers will hang on for another 30 seconds before disconnecting, the studies say.
If you invest in a tape or CD that describes your firms work, community support and history, or which provides legal tips, you can keep someone on hold for nearly three minutes without them hanging up or noticing much of a delay.
Of course, your standard of practice shouldnt be to keep anyone waiting on hold for three minutes. At the same time and despite the advent of e-mail, most firms still experience periods of high call volume. Putting some callers on hold is simply inevitable at a successful law firm.
Investing in a pre-recorded custom message will ensure your callers stay around to hear you out. And, providers are easy to find on the Internet. 
- Bob Weiss is president of Alyn-Weiss and Associates, Inc., a Denver-based marketing consulting group which has worked with both corporate, transactional and defense firms and contingent fee practices nationwide for more than 20 years.
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