On-Hold Recordings Cut Abandoned Calls

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For the past month, callers to Office Depot's call center have been learning about special promotions and monthly store features while they are on hold. The recordings, which mark the first time the Delray Beach, FL, office supply company has implemented an in-queue messages program for inbound calls, have already caused a decrease in caller abandonment rates.


The service is provided by MetaSound, San Jose, CA, a media services company that focuses on image enhancement, brand reinforcement and customer care for in-queue captive audiences. The POPaudio solution being used by Office Depot includes digital audio announcers and customized audio programming content and music.


Office Depot will use the system to support marketing promotions and campaigns by giving its callers the chance to listen to promotions for specialty items and monthly store features, such as its fall back-to-school push. The system is being used for callers to Office Depot's more than 700 stores nationwide, its national business-to-business delivery network of 60 sales offices and 30 delivery centers, and its seven national telecenters.


"We did it because we just felt there was a lot of dead time there that callers were experiencing," said Nick Torina, director of operations at Office Depot. "I don't have specific percentages but there was a high number of callers that were hanging up because they just weren't sure if they were disconnected or still on hold."


Office Depot centers receive more than 8 million calls a year. In the span of a month it has noticed a decrease in caller abandonment rates, and an increase in customers asking questions about messages they heard while on hold.


"We have heard very positive comments from both our customers and our associates regarding our audio marketing services," Torina said.


As of now each center using the system is playing the same message. Torina said in phase two of the program the company may begin to tailor the message for specific locations.


"Right now we are picking up all the key initiatives like back-to-school and the holidays," he said. "But in the future we may need to put a different message for a store in south Florida than we do for a store in Minneapolis."


"Office Depot has very specific marketing needs for its diverse group of in-queue customers," said Rick Davis, senior vice president of sales and marketing for MetaSound. "We are trying to transform and revolutionize the on-hold experience from a static and dull lull to an entertaining and engaging experience for customers and a compelling new marketing medium for corporations."


MetaSound this month is also announcing the release of its newest product InQ. According to MetaSound, InQ,, another addition to its line of PromoCast audio marketing products, is the first Web-enabled digital audio announcer that provides brand and image enhancing audio content like live news, marketing, messages and music.


Due to the Web-enabled delivery feature, the customized audio programs can be automatically distributed to the company without human intervention. This will allow MetaSound clients to retrieve and update audio programs any time they want.


Audio files used by the InQ system are 100 percent digitally recorded and downloaded into digital memory so as to offer static-free digital sound. InQ also has a call-out feature that allows it to share an analog line with another analog device, such as a fax machine, without interruption, eliminating the need for a fax switch.


InQ is capable of sending audio marketing files, via its internal modem and the Web's Internet Protocol through a standard telephone line to numerous locations nationwide. It can provide up to 60 minutes of continuous audio playtime, including a combination of studio-mixed audio messaging, premium programming and music content.


MetaSound would not disclose names of clients that have expressed interest in testing the new system.
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