Why FREE “Quoting Services” Hurt You and Your Business: Debunking Common Misconceptions About Messaging & Music On Hold
By Mitch Winchester
Perhaps you have seen these popular free quoting schemes online when you search for information, products, and / or services. They we're made popular by the “Lending Tree” financial services in the late 90's.
For instance, you visit their site, you fill out a form, and then Lending Tree goes out and finds 4 vendors to compete with each other, usually based on price, and the last “ bloodied and battered ” company left standing, wins.
They're tag line was: “When vendors compete, you win.”
Perhaps more specifically, they should say, “ In a commodity market, when vendors compete, you win; but in a professional service market, you just might lose.”
And therein lies the first big problem with free quote schemes offered to people searching for messaging and music on hold.
Critical Point #1 – Commodity vs. Professional Service
Custom Messaging and Music on hold is NOT a commodity.
It is a professional service.
No matter what the free quote services would have you believe.
Scripts are written by professional writers. “Voice talents” are people who use their voices as their main profession (on hold, radio & TV commercials, singing. etc.) Studio production is a profession.
All delivered to the customer with a smooth presentation and crystal clear sound that makes your company look more professional for your callers. (And even friends and family. Many use it to prove to peers that they “ have arrived. ”)
The problem with free music on hold quote schemes is that they attempt to “commoditize” something that is professional. (Would you bid for a CPA, lawyer, or doctor on lowest price? That's just a scary proposition.)
Music on hold (via studio production) can't be “commoditized” either because it is fully custom and highly specialized to YOUR business.
At first glance, the free quote schemes seem like a great time-saving tool. I even did. Until I figured out the truth…
The truth is: There is an ugly pitfall inherent to using such quote schemes for professional services.
This “ ghetto environment ” attracts very low-grade on hold vendors because they know they have to get “down and dirty ” to play the free quote game. They are forced to compete on price alone, and the quote schemes know this all too well. It makes THEM rich, but it's the customer and the industry which suffer.
If you get stuck with a low-cost on hold vendor, you get a product and service that is almost certain to give you a “low performance.” And forget a money back guarantee. Once they got you, you're done!
Most times, your audio is being recorded in someone's garage or bedroom, and who is it being written by any way? A housewife? A daughter who studies high school English?
After it is recorded, it is mixed with music that may or may NOT be licensed for your business use.
What happens if one of the large regulatory agencies (ASCAP, BMI, & SESAC) asks you to prove that your on hold music is fully licensed for YOUR business?
What if you can't because, unknown, it's not licensed to you?
Do you have up to $150,000* in fines for illicit use of their intellectual property? (*Reported by the Better Business Bureau in 2002.)
If your “ garage-based vendor ” provides music that wasn't licensed for your business, the regulatory agency is going to fine you, not the seedy vendor! This is an ugly situation, friend.
Also, your on hold player (which is needed to play the message and music) is often “used” or has been sent back for some reason. But since they're the lowest price provider, do you suspect they will volunteer this information to you? Not on your life.
For a low cost vendor to provide “rock-bottom” prices, they have to use rock-bottom “tactics” just to make any money.
This includes sleight-of-hand tricks like: unlicensed music, bedroom recording with inferior microphones, used or obsolete players, and aging studio equipment from the 70's.
If this sounds like a used car saleman with coffee breath and a cheap polyester suite, IT IS!
If the shoe fits...
Critical Point #2 – Free quote schemes sell everything to everyone
To make matters worse, when the free quote scheme takes your information, they don't ask the right questions. I know because I've used them all, and not one of them has a clue what NEEDS to be asked of you to discover your true music on hold needs. Doesn't that sound crazy? It's absurd.
These quote schemes companies don't know the subtle nuances of each industry's unique needs and wants, let alone, how to solve them.
So how on earth can they gather valid INPUT from you, which
in turn, drastically affects OUTPUTS?
Here's a valuable formula to live by: Inputs = Outputs (antithesis: garbage in = garbage out)
Free quote scheme companies aren't specialized in any ONE industry, in fact, most of these services provide free quotes for HUNDREDS of other industries beside music on hold: insurance, mortgage & loan, phone systems, generators, fork-lifts, alarm systems, golf carts, franchises, gift cards, freezers, uniforms, web hosting, office supplies, and on and on. Oh, and they're likely doing this in your business industry too!
How in the world can they truly ask the right questions for every vertical market when they don't sell any of these products or services themselves? They can't and they don't.
I've often been taught, “If you're everything to everyone, you're nothing to no one.”
But sometimes deciding what is and what is NOT a commodity can be difficult. Especially with unethical services abound misleading people who are looking for helpful information.
Here's a quick litmus test when trying to decide whether something is a “commodity” or a “professional service.”
Commodities can easily be swapped for one another without much noticeable difference by the user. Also, they can be easily put back on a shelf next to many other similar options and blend right in. Like generators, freezers, office supplies, gift cards, and golf carts.
Many times commodities are so ubiquitous that there is no noticeable difference at all, and in these cases, we generally shop based on price.
Makes sense for the smart consumer.
Professional services, in stark contrast, cannot be easily swapped. Nor can they be easily put back on a shelf.
Excellent examples are lawyers, doctors, and various forms of high-art. (Including custom messaging and music on hold)
In the case of message and music on hold, if you were to send it back, it cannot be used by another company, can it? In fact, no one but you can use it; therefore this makes it a great example of a professional service market.
Here are some more examples for your review.
Generally, professional services are more expensive, however, they usually deliver more benefit and specialization to the end user. Customization (to match your needs) is also required in professional services.
Sidebar: It is, of course, arguable that commodities can be different. But NOT THAT much different. For example: a pen writes, a fan blows air, and a DVD player plays movies. This is a key distinction.
The biggest problem we see today with free quote schemes is that they “ pose ” as a service that helps people & businesses, but all they are doing is really eroding service and quality for everyone. They are a middle man. But who gave them the authority to make business decisions on your behalf? Well, they did!
Isn't it convenient how they cleverly omit the vital distinction between commodity and professional businesses? You'll never see anything like this on their site because they need you to THINK everything is a commodity.
Their profits depend on it.
Omitting information to bias one's opinion is called “ Guilt by Omission. ” It is perhaps the most deceitful of all lies because it systematically leaves out valuable information for the researcher to make an educated decision based on the big picture. This is done to “ tip the scales ” in the unethical business's favor.
Worse still, they are likely doing this in YOUR industry as well!
Whatever your company sells, quote schemes are likely there offering their service to your prospects, too. They are effectively down-grading the perception of your high-quality products and services by creating an environment for “low quality” industry providers to fester. This befalls unknowing customers who are given only a fraction of the story to base their important decisions.
Bad for you as a customer AND bad for you as a business.
Critical Point #3 – Isn't your company worth it?
Don't you deserve to work with professionals who can ask you the right questions (inputs = outputs) when representing your organization with messaging and music on hold?
Free quote schemes conveniently “ gloss ” right over these key questions, and it's the customer who suffers. You don't know which questions are MOST important for making the best decision. That's why you rely on the vendor to help you, they've been there many times.
Free quote schemes don't even care WHO is in their network of vendors. They don't screen them! Again, I used them all and they let me right in with nary a question asked.
How does this help you, the customer?
Well, it doesn't! It's a free-for-all.
Smart and successful business people have learned that the lowest cost provider is almost ALWAYS a bad option when it comes to professional goods or services.
So why then are FOUR or FIVE low cost providers any better?
You could have a million of nothing, and you'd still have nothing. Wouldn't you rather have just ONE of excellence?
And hey, we're not talking about pens here, we're talking about professional studio recordings that make a critical first impression to your customers (and prospects) when they call! You certainly don't want to look amateur at this crucial moment, do you?
Finally, don't you want to look as professional as possible when people call you? Using a “rinky-dink” on hold company will make you look foolish and amateur.
Probably the exact opposite of what you've worked so hard to become.
Conversely, wouldn't it be nice if you were so proud of your new on hold message and music that you could tell friends and family to call in and listen to what a success you are? Impressing them goes a long way, and that's the fun part!
So our advice is to avoid free quote schemes because of all the crap that comes along with them. If you've read this far, you probably aren't interested in the lowest cost provider anyway. So to you, there are plenty of good vendors out there who have quality, fair price, and value to sell for messaging and music on hold.
We hope this information was helpful to you in making the best decision moving forward with messaging and music on hold for your business.
What to do next...
you can receive a free music on hold quote (from a company
who knows all about messaging and music on hold) and free phone
compatibility analysis by clicking HERE.
Or, please call
Music on Hold | The 7 Myths People Have About Messaging & Music On Hold and the 7 Dispelling Facts You Need to Know
by Mitch Winchester
Fact: All businesses put callers on hold. Even if your phones are answered live by people, your call is put on hold when transferring a call to the appropriate party. This can take 5 seconds up to 40 seconds, or more.
Also, when the receptionist is busy on one line, your other lines (two, three, and/or four) are likely answered by the system. Again, this is an “on hold” situation which your callers are exposed to.
Bottom line, even if you are answering your phones "live", you are putting callers on hold. Period.
ACTION: Call your office from your cell phone for one week and see how often you are in fact put on hold. You'll be surprised the time you are “in limbo.” This is what your callers are going through daily and they hate it. And it's hurting your image and your profits.
Custom messaging and music on hold is an ideal “patch” for replacing silence or the radio when putting callers on hold because it make you look professional rather than looking amateur.
"We use the radio (or silence) on hold and no one is complaining about it, so it must be working fine."
Fact: Hogwash. Just because your callers aren't providing you feedback doesn't prove it's working. “Absence is not evidence.” Most people are being polite by not criticizing you, and also, they don't care enough to tell you how to make your business better. That's your job to figure out, not theirs.
Radio on hold is illegal (BBB Oct. 2002) and silence is just downright amateur. The benefits of custom messaging and music on hold are worth their weight in gold, and you need to start realizing just how important it actually is to your image.
"My phones will not support messaging and music on hold."
Fact: Almost all phones (99%) support on hold messaging one way or another. If you have a professionally installed PBX/Key phone system, then you are 100% guaranteed compatible.
If you have standard office phones (AT&T, Panasonic, RCA, Brother, Uniden, Sony, etc.) then you most likely can use on hold messaging.
You'll want to discuss your set up with a qualified on hold provider so they can ask you the right questions to make a determination for you. However, rest assured that most phones will work with music on hold these days so compatibility is not an issue. Call 1-877-422-1051 to discuss your phones now.
"My customers don't want to be 'pitched to' when waiting on hold. It annoys them."
Fact: Most on hold callers (85%) when surveyed reported that they prefer to hear SOMETHING as opposed to hearing NOTHING. Isn't that what you prefer too?
Silence is a killer on hold and it increases hang-ups. Moreover, a custom messaging and music on hold production need not be a “pitch-fest” any way.
Helpful information on hold is very useful for your on hold callers. This includes: your location, your hours of operation, your website address, your slogan, your service offerings (most people only know some of your offerings, not ALL like you think they do), and how long you have been in business. All people need information like this...
Again, useful information is HELPFUL, not annoying. Silence is annoying. The radio blaring is annoying. Help educate your callers while on hold using custom messaging and music to keep them in the loop. Your image and sales will rise accordingly.
"We have WAY more pressing issues to deal with right now."
Fact: What can be more important than the first impression you make to your callers? And what can be more important than your prospects and customers?
After all, they are your “life line” to profits and you need to understand just how important looking professional is. You NEVER get a second chance to make a first impression.
Custom messaging and music on hold not only makes you look less amateur it also shows your callers how much you really do care about them. Not only that, the on hold message process is automated. The instant the callers are placed on hold, your music on hold plays through your phone, time and time again. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month.
"Custom Messaging and Music on Hold is too expensive."
Fact: Custom Music on hold is more affordable than you think. Advances in technology have driven down scripting, recording, and production costs. Fully custom messaging and music on hold is only $199 to $369. Players are also very affordable ranging from $199 to $349 depending on the chosen model. Also, certain packages are available for just $64 per month. More Info Here >
"We can't afford it. We already spent all of our advertising dollars."
Fact: You need to re-allocate your marketing dollars to include custom messaging and music on hold. Yellow pages, billboards, TV, radio, and all the other advertising mediums are ridiculously expensive. And you know it.
You can shave off just a little bit ($100) from each medium and get messaging and music on hold. Again, total costs are under $499 total, with nothing more to buy, ever. If you look for the dollars, you will find them.
What to do next...
you can receive a free music on hold quote and free phone compatibility
analysis by clicking HERE.