Customer Service Expert Urges Retailers to Focus on Service During the Holidays

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Companies should make personal connections a priority, says CEO of On Hold Company.

On Hold Company - Custom On Hold Music and Messages

The holiday shopping season is a critical time for businesses to focus on customer service online, in-person and over the telephone, On Hold Company CEO Bryant Wilson says.

“Businesses should always look to provide excellent customer service, but it can be even more critical during the holidays,” Wilson said. “It’s a stressful time of year for a lot of people, and small problems can escalate quickly if not handled with care.”

Online customer support continues to grow in popularity. But a recent survey (1) by American Express shows that only 10 percent of respondents preferred web or email assistance for important issues. About 65 percent said they prefer live in-person or phone support for minor issues, and it increased to 76 percent for serious issues.

With such high preferences for live support, companies must hire the right people and empower them to resolve issues quickly, Wilson said.

“Customer service is about building and maintaining relationships,” Wilson said. “If companies focus too much on the numbers and not enough on the people, they stand to lose those relationships to the competition.”

Many companies are leading by example:

  •     General Motors (2) is bringing live telephone support back in house to better track results. And the company’s new customer-service guru, Alicia Boler-Davis, even answers about four calls a week herself.
  •     Live customer service at online retailer Zappos (3) has become almost legendary, like they time the company sent flowers to a woman who ordered six different pairs of shoes because her feet were damaged by harsh medical treatments.
  •     Virgin America (4) is extremely selective about new hires. The airline only looks for people who are positive, friendly and optimistic. One pilot who left another airline to work for Virgin American described it as “a customer service company that’s operating an airline.”

Such an emphasis on telephone support brings the inevitability that some of those calls will be placed on hold. And during the holidays, that can increase a caller’s frustration. Wilson said strategic on-hold messages are essential for keeping callers happy and on the line.

“On-hold messages are a critical extension of a company’s brand, just like its employees” Wilson said. “A well-crafted holiday message spreads a little cheer and goes a long way to easing some seasonal stress. And that can convert a first-time holiday shopper into a loyal, long-term customer.”

About On Hold Company
On Hold Company ( is a leading provider of custom telephone on-hold music and messages. The company has been in business since 1994 and provides on-hold marketing for more than 13,000 clients across North America. On Hold Company also provides digital signage solutions, telephone voice prompts and overhead music and messaging services.

1.    “Most companies fail customer service test”, published at on Nov. 6, 2013.
2.     “GM’s new customer-service guru faces big task”, published at on Nov. 6, 2013.
3.     “Check Out The Insane Lengths Zappos Customer Service Reps Will Go To”, published at on Jan. 9 2012.
4.     “Seven Customer Service Lessons I Learned In One Day With Richard Branson [Video]”, published at on May 9, 2013.

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Scott Anderson
On Hold Company
+1 (800) 492-9030 Ext: 119
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On Hold Company
since: 09/2010
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