The Trap Game


Holiday weekend was beautiful.  Christmas presents, food, friends, and family.  All was perfect right up until kick-off.  At that point the NFL fan’s world was rocked with the phenomenon known as, ‘Upset Weekend in the National Football League.’

Undefeated Carolina Panthers lose to the Atlanta Falcons and the ’72 Dolphins drink champagne. The Packers get their ‘offense’ handed to them by the Arizona Cardinals.  The New York Jets beat the New England Patriots in overtime. Okay, I rather enjoyed that one.  But I did not enjoy watching the St. Louis Rams dismantle the Seattle Seahawks while listening to the practice squad team of Chris Mylers and Tiki Braber announce the game on TV.  Oh, I’m sorry.  Did I get their names wrong?  No matter.  They were in Seattle.

The Seahawks clinched a playoff spot last weekend with a victory over Cleveland. The last game of the regular season has them scheduled to play the division leading Arizona Cardinals next Sunday.  Sitting between those two critical games sat a contest against the lowly 6-8 Rams.  It was a classic ‘Trap Game’ scenario.  The Rams had nothing to play for but pride.  The Hawks played like they had nothing to play for, period.  Pro football pundits across the country said it all day long, ‘You can’t just show up and expect to win in the NFL . That attitude will lead to a loss every time.’  The same is true in business.

The ‘Trap Game’ in business is a little different, but just as vital.  Sandwiched in between the two critical pieces of your external marketing efforts and the creation of a satisfied customer is the experience a caller has when they contact you and are placed on hold. This is the trap game.  It is at that moment when your image is reinforced – good or bad.  When a potential customer learns first-hand what it is like to do business with you.

Is that caller treated as an after-thought? Are they subject to dead silence, or tones?  Perhaps they must endure an endless loop of too-short, royalty-free music that your IT person thinks ‘should be okay?’ Is your caller trapped in a maze of voice prompts and menus that never take them to their planned destination? Are they left on-hold so long even their smart-phone starts getting frustrated?  Therein lies the trap.

On-hold advertising is a powerful tool to help you engage with your captive audience.  Callers have responded to your marketing efforts and want to do business with you.  They have taken the time out of their busy day to contact you.  Reward that decision by investing the time and resources necessary to treat each caller with the same respect you would show them if they walked into your store.  Take the ‘secret shopper’ idea to a new level by calling your business to see what the experience is really like.  Then use that research to craft your on-hold concept to match your in-store concept. 

The key to avoiding the trap game scenario in the NFL is simple.  Don’t look so far ahead that you lose sight of what is right in front of you.  That’s good advice.  At the other end of each phone call is a customer who truly is right in front of you.  That is the time for you to be prepared, focused, and at your best.  No traps here.  Just the stellar experience your customers are expecting when doing business with you.

Tom McTee, Super-Genius

Tom McTee