How On-Hold Messaging Works

Problems with On-Hold Messaging

Customers calling with a complaint can get irritated with on-hold messaging systems.
Customers calling with a complaint can get irritated with on-hold messaging systems.
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Take an angry customer with a complaint, add a lengthy wait on hold for service, and you'll only make the situation worse by forcing the customer to listen to amateurish or poorly planned on-hold messages. The point of on-hold messaging, after all, is to make the time pass pleasantly and perhaps provide some useful information.

When the message on hold becomes the problem instead of the solution, it's time to seek outside help. That's why many companies hire experienced vendors who specialize in on-hold messaging. Whether the messaging is done in house or outside, the quality needs to be professional.

Playing a radio station on hold might seem like an option, but that's a problem, too. When you play radio programming on hold, you're rebroadcasting material protected by copyright laws. And that's illegal. With radio on hold, you also subject your customers to music they may hate and run the risk of them hearing commercials from your competitors [source: Marketing Solutions].

You can, of course, buy digital messaging equipment, select background music, write and record your own messages, and keep the whole process in house. If you choose that option, here are several suggestions:

  • Keep it casual. Use words or phrases in the script that you'd use if you were talking with a friend or business acquaintance.
  • Keep it interesting. Don't use background music that'll have your caller snoozing, but don't use anything that's loud and annoying either.
  • Keep it legal. Don't find music you like or comments in celebrity voices and simply use them. If you don't secure licenses to use copyright material, you can be fined for copyright infringement.

And if you're unsure of what to include in your recorded messages, here are some types of messages that customers might find useful or interesting:

  • Information about what your business does
  • Hours of operation and the business Web address
  • Specific information on products and services
  • Key selling points for using your business
  • Announcements of new products and special offers
  • News about upcoming events
  • Answers to frequently asked questions
  • Trivia questions and answers

[source: Marketing Playbook]

If you're using time-dated information, be sure to avoid another problem -- outdated information -- by replacing that information in time. Nothing is more annoying than listening to Christmas sales announcements in March or hearing about a special sales offer two days after it ends.

The best option may involve finding a company to help you that has the marketing expertise, voice talent and recording technology you need. Keep reading to learn more about on-hold messaging vendors and the services they offer.