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On Hold

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  • | 7:01 a.m. September 13, 2013
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Peoples' attention spans are changing. More than ever, they don't like being put on hold; they just want an answer.

That's Aaron Kleinhandler's specialty.

“These days, people are used to instant gratification — they're able to go to the Web to get info,” says Kleinhandler, CEO of Oldsmar-based Spectrio. But the phone isn't going away, he says. “There's something about connecting with a human voice — the only way is through a phone system.”

Spectrio is a marketing company that provides custom on-hold messaging, in-store music and digital signage. With 75 employees and at least 40 contractors at any given time, the company provides services to big brands including Starwood Hotels, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, LabCorp, Papa John's Pizza and Raymond James Financial. For on-hold messaging, Spectrio provides the message content, voice talent, background music, studio recording and assistance with audio installation and maintenance for its customers.

“The phone is one of your main touch points with your customer,” Kleinhandler says. “So when people are calling into your office, in some ways that's your front door. The image you are projecting when people are on hold is very important.”

Kleinhandler, 41, believes both big and small businesses have become more brand-aware. Companies want to have a consistent customer experience from in-store to online to on the phone.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide hired Spectrio to help it maintain this kind of consistent brand experience over the phone for hundreds of its locations worldwide. In the company's on-hold messaging, it uses the same music and company “voice,” whether it's a message for a W hotel in Paris or Qatar, the Westin Lake Resort and Spa in Las Vegas or The St. Regis in Miami.

“'Thank you for holding, we'll be right with you,' repeating over and over again — that's not OK anymore,” Kleinhandler says. “The harder you make it to find a live person, the more upset the person is when they actually connect.” That's why it's important to make the on-hold experience as informative and easy to navigate as possible, he adds.

In the past two years, Spectrio has branched out its services to include digital signage and videos for use in-store and online.

For example, the company is working with a large tire dealer to create a series of videos to explain different car repairs, such as why customers need to get their tires rotated, or why they need to check their differential. That way, when customers are in the store, they can learn from informative, easy-to-understand videos with animations on an in-store tablet, rather than trying to make sense of a mechanic's jargon.

Videos are similar to websites, according to Kleinhandler. People visiting websites tend to “jump on a page for two-three seconds. If they don't see what they want, they jump off,” he says. “People are doing this with video now, too.”

Because Spectrio has created videos for some big-name brands, it has access to statistics from a large data pool. Some of its videos have more than 100,000 views each month, Kleinhandler claims. According to these stats, there's a noticeable drop in people's attention span during an online video after 45 seconds. After two minutes, almost 90% of people have dropped off, he says. Sharing this information with clients, Spectrio encourages customers to focus on concise, high-quality, relevant videos to capture viewers' attention.

Spectrio's approach to brand strategy seems to satisfy its clients. More than 85% of the company's clients have been customers for more than three years. With most services structured in a subscription-based format, Spectrio's churn rate is a low 6.5%.

The company's growth the last couple of years has come largely from acquisitions, Kleinhandler says. He says the company expects to add to that growth in 2013, with expected revenues of about $17.5 million (see chart, right).

About half of Spectrio's business comes from clients with one or two locations, such as local restaurants, dentist offices, or law offices, and half are multi-location accounts. Subscriptions range from $19 to $500 monthly, depending on the services requested. For example, creating a basic one-minute video with a spokesperson would cost around $600.

Most of the company's clients receive multiple services. According to Kleinhandler, the company provides on-hold messaging for about 30,000 customer locations, video for 1,500 locations, and in-store music for 4,000 locations.

Despite its continued specialty in on-hold messaging, Kleinhandler says more businesses are gaining interest in the place-based marketing such as in-store videos and digital menu boards. To Kleinhandler, it only seemed natural for them to include these services as well. “We're a content company, we're a marketing company, and we're also a technology-enabled service company,” he says. “Customer experience is what we do.”


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