If you're trying to locate on-hold messaging vendors, you can find plenty with a simple Internet browser search. In fact, you may find the huge selection of on-hold messaging vendors to be bewildering.
Beyond the sheer quantity, you'll see that companies price on-hold messaging in different ways, make the messages available on different media and use different types of equipment. In addition, some companies specialize in a particular type of message on hold, such as for doctors' offices, while others offer a broad spectrum of services that goes beyond on-hold messaging to other types of marketing.
In deciding which on-hold messaging provider to use, you'll want to consider the factors you would for any other vendor -- years of experience, number of customers, technical expertise, cost, customer service record, recommendations and so on. But you'll also want to consider factors specific to on-hold messaging:
- Do you want a company that specializes in on-hold messaging for a particular industry, like medical? If you have a medical practice, your focus may be more on health tips and less on practice information. Look for a company that advertises its expertise in medical on-hold messaging or see what your specialty organization offers. The American Association of Family Practitioners, for example, offers Docs-On-Hold to members for under $30 per month.
- Do you simply want an on-hold messaging system, or one that's part of a broader marketing effort? Lots of smaller regional companies offer on-hold messaging as their main product, possibly at a lower price. But if you want to work on your company's marketing overall, look for a company like Marketing Solutions that offers more services [source: Marketing Solutions].
- How much are you willing to spend for professional quality? A large national company like Muzak will have lots of options in music and voices, plus the trained staff to turn out a high-quality product. But the cost is likely to more than for a mid-level product.
- Does the vendor require a long-term, multi-year contract? If so, you may find yourself locked in, even if you're not satisfied with the programming.
- Do you need or want digital equipment? A digital announcer retains music and messages in flash memory, making it easy to update and eliminating CDs that can wear out. They also won't cut out during a power surge like CD players can. But digital players can be expensive, with pricing starting around $400 [source: Powers Productions].
- Do you want to rent or buy equipment? Some companies offer both options. Renting often is cheaper, but you don't own the equipment. If you're renting, check the terms of the service agreement.
- How often do you plan to change your messages? Obviously, the more often you change the message, the more you'll have to pay. Check to see what options the vendor offers.
Finally, particularly if you're considering an unfamiliar, out-of-area vendor, check online with the Better Business Bureau to see the company's complaint record. With a little due diligence up front, you should have an on-line messaging system that'll give you a strong marketing tool and keep your on-hold customers satisfied.
For lots more information about on-hold messaging and related topics, check out the links on the next page.