Red is the New Orange


Home ownership is a wonderful thing.  Except for when your dishwasher stops working, introducing your hardwood floors to the wonders of warm soapy water for a long period of time.  After turning off the water and the electricity to the area, I muscled the old unit out from under the counter to reveal the moist floor boards and the family of spiders who have taken residence back there.  While the area was drying out, I figured this would be the perfect time for a quick run to the Home Warehouse Shopping Mecca to purchase a new one.

It was not quick. 

The experience started out great.  It seemed like an army of people were welcoming me into the store.  In the appliance department, the sales person was helping another couple.  While I waited, I began looking at the different dishwasher options to expedite the process.  After about 15 minutes, I was ready to make a purchase.  I looked over to the sales person who was still engaged with the other couple.  After another 10 minutes I started wandering to different areas in the department in hopes of at least making eye contact with the sales rep.  Never happened. 10 minutes later I looked for another rep who might help me.  Every employee I saw was hustling to a different department.  No eye-contact.  No assistance offered. No kidding.

From the reviews I read after the fact, this lack of customer service was frustratingly normal for this establishment.  I know what you’re thinking, ‘Orange aprons?’  Nope.  It was the one with the red vests.

After another 15 minutes, I heard the sales person wrap up with the couple.  ‘Excellent!’ I thought, and was looking forward to finally making this purchase.  As the couple walked away, the sales person began walking toward me - but still made no effort to connect with me.  Instead, he yelled to a co-worker, ‘Alright, I’m off to lunch.’ No eye contact with me, no conversation.  No hand-off to another employee.   He blew past me like an off-leash dog chasing a squirrel.

No customer likes to be ignored.

Although this burned my bacon, I began thinking this is the same way many businesses treat their callers placed on hold.  They smile and wave at you with their Radio and TV commercials.  The same smiling faces are printed on the mailer inviting you to contact them.  The campaign works, you take them up on their invitation to, ‘Experience the Difference.’  But in actuality the difference is that the experience you were promised is not what was delivered.  You call them and end up waiting on hold; in silence.

Talk about being ignored!

They have taken the time to call you.  This is the moment to give that potential customer, your captive audience, your undivided attention.  It is the shining moment where a clear hand-off can be made between your external marketing efforts and your on-hold advertising program.  Advertising to callers placed on hold – at least at our company – is designed to do exactly what is necessary at this stage of the customer relationship-building cycle: Engage each caller with a creative, entertaining, and informative program.  It’s a chance to reinforce your brand with each caller placed on hold.  After all, it’s not polite, nor is it good business, to just walk away and leave a customer frustrated and unattended.

As a potential customer, they may end up treating you the same way.

This is why you put US on hold.

At On-Hold Concepts, we specialize in helping you connect with every caller placed on hold. We make sure your hand-offs are smooth, your image is reinforced, and your callers are better informed and ready to do business with you when you return to their call.  It’s what we do best.

The icing on the cake of my shopping experience at the Red Vest Emporium was the co-worker that I mentioned earlier witnessed my experience.  Unfortunately, he did not work in the appliance area.  He looked at me briefly, shrugged and walked over to his department.

Me? I shrugged and walked out of the store, determined to wait for the Memorial Day Sale at Sears.

Tom McTee, Super Genius

Tom McTee