Jersey Cares Annual Coat Drive

group in winter coats

According to data from the US National Center for Health Statistics for 2001-2007, an average of 7,200 Americans die each day during the winter months (December-March). High-risk individuals include infants, the elderly, pensioners, and the homeless.

This winter is predicted to have intense drops in temperature, accompanied by several blizzards. With unemployment stagnant at 9.2% and heat prices climbing, more and more people cannot afford winter clothes to defend against the cold.

For several years, Holdcom has supported the Jersey Cares Annual Coat Drive, which runs from November 1st to December 15th. Holdcom collects donations and promotes the cause to local businesses. According to their website, “every fall, The Jersey Cares Coat Drive collects and distributes over 40,000 ‘gently used’ winter coats to at-risk men, women, children, and infants.”

If you are in the North Jersey, you can drop off donated coats at our Holdcom office, located at 955 Lincoln Avenue in Glen Rock. Last year Holdcom collected over 70 boxes of coats. For a list of public collection sites, or to find out more about Jersey Cares, check out their website.

Also, we are collecting this month for our annual “Toy’s for Tots” drive!

Thank you!

Holiday Hours

Please note that the Holdcom offices will be closed the following days during the Holiday period:

  • Christmas Eve Day, Friday, December 24th
  • New Year’s Eve Day, Friday, December 31st

If you have time-sensitive Message On Hold updates or Voice Production projects during this time.  Please allow enough time to meet your due dates.

Have a great holiday!

If you need to purchase a Holiday Message On Hold Program, you can get a promocode based upon your customer status (Active, Former, Soon To Be) for an additional discount at our Audio Production Store.

holidaypromocode

Click Here to get your promocode

Please Don’t Repeat… I Repeat…

pencil on white paper with eraser

There’s nothing wrong with being polite, but repeating the word “please” monotonously in your IVR menus can be overkill.  Imagining hearing the word “please” throughout a lengthy employee directory: “For John, please press 1. For Joe, please press 2. For Kim, please press 3. For Ed, please press 4…etc.” With all that repetition, the congeniality begins to lose its sincerity.  Our suggestion is say it once before the first direction and then simply continue with “…press X” for the remainder of the prompt.

Just For Fun Video – Santa Sessions

This month’s video strikes home for studio producers and voice talents alike.

To welcome the coming holidays, Santa Claus needs to update his voicemail greetings with the perfect recording of his trademark chuckle, “Ho ho ho!” He decides to stop in at Sunspot Productions, an audio production studio, to deliver his message.

Of course, hilarity ensues.

Holdcom wishes to extend a hearty “happy holidays!” to our peers in the industry – and to everyone who cherishes the power of voice!

New Holiday Music!

As the days march on towards the holiday season, the music we know and love fills the air. At first the childish glee of “Frosty the Snowman” or “12 Days of Christmas” is heartwarming, but after the five-thousandth time it becomes, well, a bit tired.  You can’t go shopping, driving, out to dinner – well, anywhere – without hearing an overly joyous rendition of “Jingle Bells” or “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

holiday music collage

At Holdcom, we’ve decided to change things up. We have received feedback that our clients want more diverse interpretations of holiday classics: tracks that capture the excitement and anticipation of the holidays that you wouldn’t hear in an elevator. Well, not only have we gotten off the “elevator,” but we have also demolished the building.

Alongside bolstering our traditional holiday selections, Holdcom has acquired four new albums of eclectic holiday music that can be accessed from our audio production store or our website: Christmas Kitsch, Christmas Crackers, Masterworks V3 Acoustic, and Happy Happy Holidays.

To commemorate these collections, each member of our Productions Department is going to provide an insightful, and pointed, review of each album a la Rolling Stones. Check out all the reviews on our website to find out more.

Department Feature: Production

Then following is the third installment of a five part series featuring Holdcom’s specialized departments.

In last month’s issue of the Holdcom Voice, we explored how the Scripts Department contributed to the “Holdcom Story”: it is “the guts of the novel, the plot, where information gathered by Client Relations…is digested, formulated, and finally put to paper.” This month, we proudly feature the Productions team, who is responsible for taking the manuscript one step further.

production department

The Production department is responsible for infusing the scripts with sound: they hold live studio session with voice talent, edit and produce the files, and are responsible for sending the final product directly to the client. The Production team could be compared to the proofreading and editing team of a publishing house who formats the manuscript, or in the words of Production team member Brett Lubansky, “we bring it all together and put on the finishing touches.”

But Production not only realizes the final product; they work with Scripts to create a program that reflects the client’s vision. “We are the ghostwriters,” says Production team member Nicholas Bolton. Just like proofreaders and editors meticulously scan the manuscript, Production analyzes the sound files second by second, deleting breathiness, adding spaces, clipping, stretching, and restructuring. Production is responsible for insuring clarity, high quality, and that proper file formats are used; they make it possible for large, complex files to be played through a phone system.

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Toys for Tots

Toys for Tots (logo)

This month, join Holdcom in supporting Toys for Tots, the annual national charitable program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, now in its 63rd year.

The foundation’s website states that “according to a recent report from the United States Census Beureau, the poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent in 2009…rise was steepest for children, with one in five residents under 18 living below the poverty line.” There are over 14.1 million children who do not have access to toys, fundamental tools for creative play that give children “recognition, confidence, and a positive memory of a lifetime.”

There are many ways to support Toys for Tots. Drop off locations include nationwide Toys“R”Us retail locations, or visit the website for local partners. Besides donating “new, unwrapped” toys, many options for monetary donations – through mail, Ebay, PayPal, and more – are possible.

If you are in the North Jersey area, stop by our Holdcom office, located at 955 Lincoln Avenue in Glen Rock, to donate toys or learn more about the Toys for Tots program.

Holiday eCards Coming Your Way

This holiday season, rest assured that you don’t have to trudge through a blizzard to check your mailbox for holiday greetings; electronic greeting cards, or eCards, are the way to go. With hundreds of eCard startups, robust social media platforms, and eco-friendly initiatives, more people are turning to eCards for their annual dose of holiday cheer.

eGreeting collage

But what about tradition! Don’t worry: printed greeting cards still generate $7.5 billion in annual revenue, with the average household buying 30 cards. But greeting card giants such as Hallmark and American have made a solid transition to digital greeting cards, while many novelty websites such as JibJab offer multi-media options that traditional printing cards cannot replicate: such as customizable “sendables®,” where you can crop a picture of yourself or a friend to be placed on a character’s body in a humorous dance video.

Though traditional printed cards may have sentimental value, eCards have endless customization features. Incorporating video or audio will reflect a unique greeting card – one that doesn’t rely on stock photos of snowy pastures or a jolly Santa Claus. Hearing, a warm, soothing voice will provide your loved ones with a more meaningful experience.
Paired with the knowledge that you are contributing to a cleaner environment can only add to holiday goodwill, or getting started on a new years resolution.

More and more younger families are turning to eCards as a cheaper and faster alternative to printing, collating, and mailing. Holdcom specializes in providing voice talent, sound effects, and audio fine-tuning for eGreeting cards of all types – whether for holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries. Our versatile scriptwriters can create hilarious holiday greetings or heart-warming gems at the drop of a hat.

While you are browsing the Internet for the perfect eCard to send, check out these top ten free eCard websites; and don’t forget about these five great eCard applications for your smartphone!

Special Offer!

What better way to carry your Halloween candy than in a sturdy, secure, and FREE Holdcom Tote Bag? Re-usable bags are less waste for the environment and most food chains will give you cash back – plus, in case we forgot to mention, it’s FREE! All you have to do is email Andy Begnoche if interested – Andyb@holdcom.com.  Only one per person & while supplies last.

Happy Holidays & Happy Carrying!

Customer Service Best Practices

Based on strategies by Anne M. Obarski, professional speaker, trainer, and author. Visit www.merchandiseconcepts.com for more information.

Good customer service is about making an impression – a memorable experience that will inspire your customer to pass positive feedback throughout their social and business networks. In essence, your customers become unofficial advocates for your company. And it can all start with just one positive experience with your business.

The following are eight tips that take a proactive approach to customer service, converting customers into company cheerleaders:

1) Be available – be live!

Always have a live representative available – even if you personally aren’t able to answer your phone. Call forwarding can transfer incoming calls from your work line to your mobile device, while professional answering services provide live representatives to be on-call.

2) Show your customer that you are listening

Show your customers that you are listening by suggesting solutions, providing educational resources, or confirming their concerns. For example, a Holdcom customer may ask, “How long does the average order fulfillment take?” A good response would begin with “The average order fulfillment…” instead of providing a disinterested one-word response. By repeating a portion of their discourse, you demonstrate that you have heard, and understood, what they had said.

3) Communicate with your staff

Teach your employees how to position your business. Open discussion about the fundamentals of good customer service, and the proper presentation of your company image, will insure that all of your staff are on the same page. If each employee has a general overview of each department and troubleshooting techniques, they will have the confidence to be an authority  – without the need for transfers.

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Scripts Department Feature

Holdcom Script Department

The following is part two of a five part series featuring Holdcom’s specialized departments.

Script deparmentIn our October Newsletter, we established that the departments of Holdcom could be likened to the unique elements that go into making a hardcover novel. Client Relations was compared to the Title Page, Table of Contents, and Appendices; this month, we proudly feature Holdcom’s Script department.

The Script Department is the manuscript, the body, before the novel is bound and formatted. They are the guts of the novel, where the information gathered by Client Relations, independent research, and communicating directly with clients is digested, formulated, and finally, put to paper. The Script Department consists of professional writers who organize customized content for message on hold programs, IVR announcements, eLearning scripts, virtual tour scripts, and more.

The Script Department comprises three individuals: Megan Adriulli, John Falcone, and Rob Lefever. All three work together, but separately – they each have their own clients scripts’ to fulfill, but they will often hand off a rough draft to a fellow team member to proofread or make suggestions. Like the twists and turns of a plot, each script says the who, what, where, when, and why of the client, and it is the Script Department’s job to transform these often lengthy company histories into succinct, informative message on hold programs. The scripts themselves are written either from scratch or based off a program development form filled out by a client, which is a questionnaire consisting of basic questions, such as store hours, company history, and the type of customer experience [tone] client wishes to convey.

Each member of the Script Department has distinct tasks to accomplish. Megan Andriulli has been a Scripts member for nine years. She not only works with high frequency clients [monthly updates], but also organizes and contributes to the Holdcom Voice, our monthly newsletter. Megan’s working situation is unique, for she alternates working at our offices and remotely, from home, where she can also keep a close eye on her two toddlers.

John Falcone has been working at Holdcom for eleven years; he handles various clients, from annual to monthly updates, and sends out submission reminders, as well as scheduling voice talent for studio time.

Last but not least is the Senior Script Consultant, Rob Lefever, who acts as the chief editor of the Holdcom manuscript. Rob is the manager of the department; he oversees that scripts are submitted on time, that voice talent recording session are on schedule, and that the writers have a fast turnaround. He gives the final proofing on scripts and handles large volumes of scripts from our most frequent updaters.

The Script Department works closely with Client Relations to really get to know Holdcom’s clients. Like the table of contents and chapter titles, the two departments work hand in hand to enhance the Holdcom customer experience. The Script Department is our creative content, but also acts as an index, where clients go if they have questions about the script.

Now that we have a completely structured manuscript, come back next month to see how the Production department brings the Holdcom story to the next level.

Holdcom Visits Audio Production Store Partner

Holdcom’s Andy Begnoche (COO) and Neil Fishman (President) arrived in San Francisco this past Thursday, just days ahead of SOCAP’s International Conference in San Francisco, to visit their valued partner, 8X8.  In addition to participating in the three day SOCAP conference (10/18 – 10/20), Andy and Neil, dubbed the “leadership team,” were excited to meet with key personnel at 8X8′s corporate headquarters in Sunnyvale.  They were greeted by Beth Carney (pictured at far right below), and then had the opportunity to meet with several departmental managers representing a variety of disciplines, including marketing, web development, customer service, tech support and sales.

Holdcom and 8X8 have been successfully working together for three years, providing clients with online fulfillment of custom auto attendant recordings and Message On Hold programs, via the 8X8 audio production store.   Management agreed that the online availability of professional voice recording services has fulfilled clients’ needs and enhanced their customer service initiative. This holiday season, Holdcom will be working with 8×8 to promote their audio production store for the holidays, providing special freemium offers for their customers.

After a tour of the facility and its various departments, it became clear that 8X8 is continuing to expand its role as a major force within the VoIP industry. Holdcom looks forward to working with 8×8 to develop further initiatives that  makes caller experience ever better.

Blog-Nurturing Campaigns

Client Relations Meets eMarketing With Message on Hold

According to the B2B analytics guide eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale by Ardath Albee, “buyers will search out and read more information by a vendor when the information they are exposed to is considered to be valuable and relevant.” The process by which companies do not pursue or cold call new clients, but enable clients by “putting high-quality content into play in a variety of channels to increase demand” is referred to as a nurturing campaign.

One of the basic tenants of a nurturing campaign is being the trusted source for problem solving – so clients will choose your company as a trustworthy knowledge base. At Holdcom, we go by the philosophy of providing an audio marketing solution for your company – this problem-solution approach is not only proactive for our clients, but for our clients’ customers, for the customers are empowered and educated by information distributed through message on hold programs…

To read more, visit e-marketing.

The End is Where It’s At

pencil on white paper with eraser

One of the more common changes the Script Department makes when proofing incoming voice prompt scripts is to place the call-to-action option at the end of the sentence.

When a caller listens to a laundry list of menu options, s/he is waiting to hear the option required and most likely has little to no interest in the other options being offered.  Placing extension numbers before their corresponding menu options makes it difficult for a caller to remember the exact number he needs.

GOOD EXAMPLE: “For Sales & Catering, enter two-zero-one. For Accounting, enter two-zero-two. For Public Relations or Marketing, enter two-zero-three.

BAD EXAMPLE: “Enter two-zero-one for Sales & Catering. Enter two-zero-two for Accounting. Enter two-zero-three to speak with a Public Relations or Marketing Department staff member.

As always, the professionals in Holdcom’s Script Department will keep the written copy on check, but it never hurts to be in the know!

Just For Fun

Game Voices is a website “created for VoiceOver Artists to demonstrate their talents to the mobile and video games industries.” The site is an open platform for voice over artists to contribute samples, post discussions on forums, and establish networks.

The following is a video that goes behind the scenes of the voices for the hit release Fallout: New Vegas by Obsidian Entertainment. You’ll here the iconic Ron Pearlman, Wayne Newton, Kris Kristofferson, and more.

Holdcom’s Holiday Hours

HOLDCOM would like to take a moment to thank our loyal clients for their continued patronage. We are truly thankful for your support and we would like to extend the sincerest Thanksgiving wishes to you, your staff, and families. Please note that our offices will be closed Thursday, November 25th and Friday, November 26th.  Be sure to set up your holiday message on-hold program so that it can begin playing soon after the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Looking ahead we will also be closed Christmas Eve Day, December 24th, and New Year’s Eve Day, December 31st.