On-Hold Messages 101: How to Create a Great On-Hold Experience

No one likes being put on hold, but an effective on-hold program can help you build your brand, educate callers, and tap into your phone system’s marketing potential.

But where do you start? How do you write an on-hold message?

Let’s break down all the basics of your on-hold system so you can create professional quality, custom on-hold messages that reduce caller frustration and improve your bottom line.

Understanding Your On-Hold System: Traditional Vs. Cloud

You need to know how your phone system’s on-hold message feature works to design a great on-hold program. There are two types of on-hold messaging systems: traditional and cloud-based.

  • Traditional On-Hold Message System – Traditional or legacy phone systems require an external audio player to be installed on-site and operate continuously. With a continuous loop player, callers may hear a different portion of your message each time they call. So, it’s important to keep messages concise and add an acknowledgment message (thank you for holding, we appreciate your patience, etc.) between every three or four announcements.
  • Cloud On-Hold Message System – Newer, cloud-based systems do not require the installation of an audio player, and unlike legacy systems, they start the on-hold message from the beginning for every caller placed on hold, so get your most important, timely message out first. If you don’t have the bandwidth for continual message updates, it’s important to use messages with a long shelf life and a neutral, indistinct musical track.

Call Hold Times Determine Scripts

Regardless of your system type, you need to factor your average caller hold times into your scripting process.

Average on-hold lengths can vary, but generally an on-hold program is three to four minutes long and an average of 200 to 300 words. However, this structure may not be appropriate for all industries. If your business has extensive hold times of eight minutes or more, you should keep messages brief and utilize longer musical breaks. Consider the needs and preferences of your typical caller and adjust accordingly.

What Should You Include in Your On-Hold Message?

Regardless of your industry, there are a few things all businesses should consider including in their on-hold program:

  • Tagline or mission statement
  • Website URL
  • Product/Service and Benefits
  • Hours and location
  • Social media pages
  • Experience or years in business
  • Awards and/or accreditations
  • Request for referrals

What sets your business apart from the competition?

Aside from sharing the basics, your on-hold messages can be a powerful marketing tool if you cross-market and brand appropriately. Before writing your messages, consult Snap Recording’s quick on-hold message guide

Selecting Voice and Music for On-Hold Messages

  • Your target audience should be the most important factor when choosing a voice for your on-old message recordings. Who would one of your prospective clients take advice from? Whom would they find the most captivating and trustworthy? Whether they’d prefer a conversation with a friend, a command from an authority figure, or advice from their mom, keep your audience’s needs at the forefront.
  • The music you select should also reflect the tone of your business and the sentiment you wish to portray to your callers. If you’re an Italian restaurant, go for the tarantella; a doctor’s office should stick to light, easy listening; a gym might choose an electronica track. If you’re self-recording, avoid licensed music to avoid a potential fine.

Most companies turn to professional agencies, like Snap Recordings, to produce their on-hold messages. Agencies specializing in phone recordings will give you access to professional voiceovers, pre-licensed music libraries, and other resources that make it easy to have high-quality brand voice messaging for your business.

CTS has decades of communications expertise. Let’s talk about better technology to meet your business goals. Contact us at: 800.787.4848 or jnolte@ctsmd.us.


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