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Article 5 min read

Creative ways to keep customers entertained while they wait

Door Anneke Steenkamp

Laatst gewijzigd May 19, 2015

Alice MacDougall once said, “In business you get what you want by giving other people what they want.”

Lisa Loeffler, founder and principal of Genuine Media once shared her personal experience of waiting for assistance when trying to change her flight. During her 1 hour, 17 minutes and 33 seconds wait, she explored alternatives to entertaining bored customers waiting for their issues to be resolved. She goes a step further in introducing the idea of “gamifying” the customer’s live call interactions with customer service representatives.

Waiting is an inescapable part of getting any issue resolved. In the customer support industry, the wait has to be made as smooth as possible in order to satisfy the customer. Waiting time might be inevitable, but changing your waiting strategy might just set your company apart from the competition.

This article shares some creative ideas businesses can use to keep customers engaged during their wait.

Put a reward system in place

Think of this tactic as a win-win situation for both the company and the customer. Not only are you rewarding customers for their engagement, but you are boosting your own social media presence as well. For instance, certain companies such as Amex (American Express) took the route of awarding their customers for tweeting or sharing information of their purchases online. This campaign led to tremendous success in 2012, and showed the industry how social media can boost your profits.

You can also reward customers who use a self-service support system. When customers land on an FAQ page or self-service alternative in search of answers, you can offer a discount coupon as reward. A reward on offer might inspire customers that don’t always feel confident in using these systems.

Alternatively, reward your customers for filling out a survey or writing a short review while they wait for support representatives. Whether they have a query or complaint, people never want to feel like they are wasting their time. So in return for them spending their time on your business, show them how much you appreciate their feedback and interaction by offering a special reward or discount. Loeffler from Convince and Convert wrote, “Brands could reward customers with coupons, miles or points for their ‘waiting on hold’ time investment.”

Advertise and share your latest deals
If your customers are invested in your products or services, chances are that they want to know more about the company. Sharing deals or advertisements on your latest product update and features might enlighten them on things they weren’t aware of. One of the most popular ways companies represent themselves online is via platforms such as Youtube where you can broadcast an advertisement. These video links can be shared with the customer during a live chat or email correspondence. Google Adwords is also a very popular tool in securing your place on the web.

“Thanks to the internet, there are now more free, cheap and interesting advertising options for small businesses,” writes Small Starter.

Be careful not to misuse this tactic by shoving advertisements or deals down your customer’s throats. Rather, give them the option to listen to or receive information. This can be done in the form of telephonic message or, alternatively, the option to subscribe to their monthly or weekly newsletters.

Lighten the mood
Of course there is a time and a place for jokes, but wouldn’t it be refreshing to listen to a funny story, or view a humorous comic while you wait? If you offer Live Chat support you could even compile an animated video or cartoon of your company and send it over to your customer. Hire an animator or comic artist to create some relevant material for your company which you can use for your creative strategy.

Develop something that will lighten the mood of the person waiting while also telling them something about the inner workings of the company or company culture. People like to feel included and sharing a personal joke or fact about your company will build a connection rather than invoking agitation or frustration.

Give them the option to jump the queue
The problem with waiting is not the action itself—but rather the actual queue. The idea of people waiting ahead of you can be demoralizing. Knowing that you’re only 111th in line can make you quit the process all together.

In real life, people would be outraged by line cutting, but with online customer support it’s not that personal. Chances are you have no idea who is waiting with you, so you might not feel as obligated to take them into account. What if companies could offer customers to jump the line if they perform certain actions? For instance if they fill out a survey or watch a video this will help them jump a few spots until they are next in line. From a technical point of view this can make them move up in the “on-hold” rankings.

The risk, however, lies in the fact that all customers might use this option and end up at the same place in line. But, what you don’t know won’t hurt you, right?

Personalized on-hold playlists

“You need to know exactly what your customer’s needs, desires and concerns are so you can accurately add useful value. A great experience is always one that is different to what the customer expected,” writes Positive Training.

If you’re not a fan of Bach’s Overture, chances are that waiting music might further add to your customer service frustration. What if there was an option to listen to music that you like?

Customer service companies can put a system in place with their telephonic support where customers can choose the genre of music they want to listen to while they wait. For example: Press 1 for Love Songs, 2 for Rock Music, and 3 for Instrumental. Not only will this put an exciting touch on the age-old system but it might keep them busy switching through channels and stations while they wait.

Waiting for support or assistance is something that customers hate, but companies can make the wait more bearable by offering creative alternatives to keep customers busy while waiting in line. These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing and hopefully help set your company apart from the customer service team next door.

This post was originally published by Zopim. Since joining Zendesk, Zopim has been welcomed into our product family as Zendesk Chat, along with a number of treasured belongings.

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