How Important Is a Great On-Hold Message?

When we think about marketing for our practices we often think about websites and social media. But according to Marsha Heinke, author of Practice Made Perfect, the telephone is the most important instrument you have in your practice. suggests that three out of four people use the phone as their primary means of making an appointment, and 60% of them will hang up when left on hold. That is, unless you have valuable or entertaining information in your hold message that entices them to stay on the line.

Create Unique Messaging

On-hold messaging can create an uptick in revenue by keeping clients engaged with the products and services you offer. It also provides valuable information to your clients about how to best care for and keep their pets safe.

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Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Let clients know about promotions. Are you celebrating dental month with a discount? Perhaps there is a great rebate on heartworm preventive. Keep your clients informed so that they can take advantage of opportunities to provide the best care for their pet(s).
  • Announce a new service/product. You've recently added laser therapy to your practice repertoire and you want clients to know about it. Why not add this to your on-hold messaging? Take the opportunity to explain the multitude of benefits, the great packages your practice offers, who to speak with for more info, and how to schedule an appointment.
  • Seasonal safety tips. There are hazards lurking everywhere for our pets, many of which clients aren't aware of. Spend some quality on-hold time educating them about foods to avoid and how to keep pets safe during the summer, the Fourth of July, Halloween, and winter holidays. Knowledge is power, people!
  • Share some fun. Share some heartwarming stories with your clients. For added fun, do so featuring a patient (with the client's permission, of course). Share the most popular pet names of the year, a list of the dog breeds least likely to run to the door when you get home (because they're still on the couch), or a rundown of the best breeds for seniors.

Think Outside the Box

My favorite on-hold message actually didn't have anything to do with the practice, its products, or its services, but it was so unusual I've never forgotten it (which I call successful marketing). The message stated that, in 15-second intervals, calming sounds would play, and it encouraged the listener to take a deep breath and focus just on the sound. I sat quietly and listened to the sound of rain. I was so relaxed, by the time the CSR came back on the line, I forgot why I was calling.

Hire a Pro

How do you get great on-hold messaging? Well, I don't recommend setting up a recording studio in your break room or hiring an aspiring DJ to record your on-hold message. Companies like Spectrio, InTouch Vet, and On Hold Marketing provide professional quality messaging that's veterinary-specific. Be sure to update your on-hold message every 30 to 60 days. If you've recorded seasonal or time-sensitive information, you may have to update more frequently so clients don't hear outdated material. I once called a practice in March that was still advertising their boarding services for the Christmas holiday. Yikes!

Having a great on-hold message doesn't mean you can put someone on hold and take a coffee break. Your goal should be to never have someone hold for more than 30 seconds, but I challenge you to make those 30 seconds the very best of your client's day.

Recommendations are those of the author and not IDEXX.

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Katie Adams

Katie is a CVPM with over a decade of experience in the veterinary field. She has spoken nationally on best business practices, emotional intelligence, and conflict competence. Katie enjoys writing and has a regular monthly column in Firstline Magazine. She is most passionate about helping others.

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