Hold Music and the Customer Service Experience

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Researching “On-Hold Music” reveals an extensive amount of information on the topic. It is an entire industry in itself, plus there are numerous opinions, studies, and articles that focus solely on the type of music you should play for customers when you put them on hold.

NPR’s MarketPlace recently featured a segment discussing “What Makes You Happy When Your Call Is Put on Hold?” This piece explored the evolution of the industry and how hold music can impact customer satisfaction.

Although on hold music technically does very little to increase a caller’s level of satisfaction, being greeted by silence has a negative impact on customer service according to Scott Broetzman, President of Customer Care and Consulting.  The most positive response from customers were received when they listened to on hold greetings with estimates of how long they’d be waiting. Emily Yellin, the author of “Your Call is Not that Important to Us,” added that treating customers well and keeping hold times shorter than a minute were the real keys to increasing satisfaction.

frustrated man on hold

While this information may seem to be against on hold music, answering the phone in less than a minute might not be a realistic goal for your company at this moment. Having a system in place, such as an auto attendant, for handling the extra call volume may be necessary. If that’s the case, remember your company’s first impression is made, through your greetings and on hold messages or music.

On hold music can support your customer service efforts by:

  1. Projecting a polished image for your company.
  2. Captivating your audience.
  3. Making hold time seem shorter.

Matching your current advertising and branding campaigns with your music selection can project a unified company. As your customers call, appropriate music selection decreases frustration, thereby reducing the number of dropped calls. This will lead to higher first call resolution rates and increased customer satisfaction. Well-chosen on hold music will make your customer’s time on hold seem shorter.

But remember, there’s definitely more to the on hold music than simply uploading a song from your iTunes account (potentially illegal, by the way). Taking the time to seek the right music selection for your organization will be worth the effort as your customers have more favorable impressions of your company as well as their customer service experience.

What customer service techniques does your organization use when customers are on hold?


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  • Nicola Bray

    Well said! We actually had a song created for us recently called ‘Call Resolution’ ( you can listen to it here: http://0dayhotmusic.com/dennis-malik/call-resolution ). The singer/songwriter is Dennis Malik and it seems to work well for us. Nearly everyone we’ve spoken to are complimentary – although it’s not to everyone’s taste. A few have asked to be put back on hold to carry on listening to it! Overall we think it helps our customers to better understand what we do and how we can help them best – which can only be a good thing at the end of the day. The important thing is they remember us better because of the music! http://www.hpplotter.co.uk