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The facts about on hold messages

Old fashioned Telephone

I don’t know about you, but I think there is nothing worse than calling a company, being put on hold, and hearing – nothing. You start to wonder if you’ve been forgotten about, or cut off, and after short while you probably hang up.

You’re not alone. Statistics show that if we are left in silence then 60% of us will hang up – and 30% won’t call back.

Businesses that don’t make use of on-hold music or messages are missing out.

Over 70% of business callers are put on hold, and a CNN survey suggests that the average person spends 60 hours a year on hold! That seems a bit excessive to me, but at times I’ve certainly felt like I’ve been kept waiting for 60 hours…(reference)

So, if you’re a business owner and your customers are likely to be kept on hold – even for a short time – it’s worth spending some time (and maybe a little money), making sure that they don’t hang up.

The simplest option is to play them some music, but be careful, you need to make sure that you have permission to play it, and don’t fall foul of copyright issues. There are plenty of places where you can source royalty-free music such as Audio Jungle and Audio Blocks. Don’t be tempted to play your favourite radio station down the phone line as this is highly illegal!

A better option than music alone, is to include some on-hold messages. You can use these to highlight your products and services, tell customers your latest news, direct them to your website, or give them directions to your store. Surveys show that 15-20% of callers make purchases based on information they heard on hold, which is a statistic not to be sniffed at.

So, how can you get good quality on-hold messages recorded? Well that’s where people like me come in! There are a number of dedicated on-hold service providers out there with banks of voiceover artists for you to choose from, and a range of music styles on offer so you can find something that fits your business. Some of these companies have a subscription model, so that for a monthly fee you can update your messages on a regular basis – for example with holiday opening hours, latest special offers, and seasonal messages.

Or you can go direct to a voice over artist like myself. I’m always happy to help people write their messages if they’re not sure how they should be worded, and I have a subscription to a catalogue of royalty-free music so I can help find the perfect track to reflect the business. And as on-hold messages tend to be short I can turn them around very quickly – often the very same day that I receive them. If you want to hear some examples of messages I’ve recorded in the past, I have a telephony demo.

Many phone systems require the audio files to be in a specific format (known as µ-law) – and if you hear them through your computer you will think they sound terrible. However, they sound fine over a phone line – trust me! Usually I will send my clients two versions of their recordings – the one that will go on the phone system, and an mp3 file that is much nicer to listen to that the client can use to check everything is correct.

If you’ve got some ideas for your on-hold messages and music then I’d love to have a chat. Drop me an email to