How do you have a conversation early on with your customer about…
The other day I had a conference call that a colleague scheduled through UberConference, an online service that dubs itself the “stress-free conference call.” I must confess I smiled a bit at their tagline since I’ve experienced plenty of stress trying to schedule and participate in conference calls over the years.
I called in early as I usually do so that I was ready when my colleague called in and we could get started. Since I was the first person to the call, I was placed on hold.
To my surprise, I was greeted with something very different than the typical, boring “on hold” music. Set to a tune with a country bluegrass feel, I heard these words coming through the phone:
(don’t just skim this – there are some pretty funny lyrics in here)
Well I’ve been sittin’ here all day
I’ve been sittin’ in this waiting room.
And I’ve been waitin’ on my friends,
yes I’m waiting on this conference call. All alone.
And I’m on hold. Yes, I’m on hold. I hope it’s not all day.
Well, I wonder where they are,
yes I wonder where my friends have gone.
Where did they go?
Tell me where could they be,
while I am waitin’ on this conference call.
I don’t know.
Well I’m holdin’ on my phone, yes I am holdin’ on the line. Hey!
I don’t know where they are, I don’t know why I’m still alone.
I’m on hold. Oh yes, I’m on hold.
I hope it’s not all day.
Well, let me tell y’all a story about a man who was on hold all day.
Yes he was.
Now maybe he had the time wrong,
and maybe he didn’t,
there’s just no way for me to say.
And yes I have seen some long hold times and my day, yes I have, and this was one of the worst.
Now this young man did not hang up the telephone and you can guess what happened.
Ah, yeah. That call began.
Stay on hold.
You got to stay on hold.
Don’t go away.
(If you want the full experience, you can listen to the call here:
Instead of taking the easy route and going with stock muzak, or bland instrumental music, or worse yet a sales pitch – UberConference took something that everyone has to go through (waiting on hold for a conference call to start) and made it unique and memorable.
This is a perfect example of the First 100 Days principle: Make the required remarkable.
In every organization, there are things that are operationally required. For a conference line, it’s a message or music that plays while you are waiting for the organizer to join the call.
It’s necessary to have some kind of hold music going so the caller knows they’re still connected.
UberConference took this required element of doing business and made it remarkable. They added a dose of fun to an otherwise bland interaction when they took the time to create a catchy, light-hearted song with lyrics directed to the very experience the listener is having in that moment.
As a first time customer, I was not only entertained. I was delighted!
I can hear you thinking, “Well great Joey – that was a catchy tune, but how can I apply this to my business?”
I’m glad you asked.
The next time you find yourself working on something you “have” to do in your business that isn’t exciting, try applying this four step formula:
1. Brainstorm ways to make this required element of your operation exciting and consistent with your brand, your voice, and/or your energy. You want to maintain consistency with your overall brand image, but you don’t have to do “business as usual.”
2. Create something new and improved. Try to catch your customer off guard and/or surprise them with your innovation and creativity.
3. Test your new and improved “required” element in the real world. Internal tests or focus groups can be a good start, but nothing is as effective as letting an idea out into the wild and seeing what happens. Pay attention to the feedback and don’t get discouraged if some of your customers don’t like the new innovation. You don’t need everyone to like it, you just need to surprise and delight those that take notice. Use the feedback to make tweaks and adjustments to your required element to continue refining it.
4. Schedule a review for six months to one year later to make sure it’s still remarkable. Don’t just scrap an idea because it’s been around for awhile – but if it’s grown stale, make sure to swap in a new, innovative idea – especially if you have repeat customers who will have grown used to your innovation by now and will see it as “business as usual.As you go through this process, beware of trying to be cute or funny for its own sake. Your new and improved required component needs to incorporate your brand voice and energy. If humor and/or playfulness makes sense for your image, go for it. If not, come up with another way to create an emotional or unexpected connection with your customer.
As you go through this process, beware of trying to be cute or funny for its own sake. Your new and improved required component needs to incorporate your brand voice and energy. If humor and/or playfulness makes sense for your image, go for it. If not, come up with another way to create an emotional or unexpected connection with your customer.
Regardless of your industry, looking for little touches that please your customer can bring surprisingly big results. Stop and think about the last time you interacted with a business and something surprising and delightful happened? I bet it’s been a while – but I bet you remember what happened and the company that made it happen.
With just one jingle, UberConference made me smile, got my attention, and spurred me to switch providers when scheduling calls. Not to mention the fact that I’m now writing about them and will include this as an example in my speeches.
I bet you’re curious about their offerings now, aren’t you? Nice work on making the required remarkable, UberConference.