On Hold Messages

The big showdown - Silence vs Music vs Messages

We get asked a lot about on hold music, whilst it’s really important to have something for your callers to listen to whilst they wait on the line, music isn’t the most engaging option when on its own.

Combine music with messages on hold and you’ve got a winning combination! The standard Music on hold included with every telephone system is often poor quality, tinny and let’s be honest, boring! Plus call handlers are constantly made to feel guilty for interrupting waiting callers’ private discos…

Research shows that there’s 3 stages of how much your caller will put up with when placed on hold, when faced with varying levels of entertainment.

Average hold time of callers whilst listening to...

Average hold time of callers whilst listening to...


Placing a caller on hold for them to be faced with silence is unsurprisingly bad for business, with callers staying on a silent line for an average of just 40 seconds before hanging up. Being faced with silence is confusing, your customer doesn’t know if they were placed on hold properly or if the call is even connected correctly.  Your caller is now sat debating if they should hang up or not, a debate that lasts just over half a minute. The next best thing would be to add a little music in to jolly things up and reassure your customer that their call hasn’t been lost to the on hold abyss. Oh and if you’re thinking our phone system beeps to let callers know they’re still connected that’s just as annoying!


We can be honest here, no one likes listening to dodgy on hold music on its own. Often crackly, dated or over exuberant classical music is played, unless you’re really treating your customers and subject them to deafening and confusing beeps. Making them reminisce back to the dreaded bleep test you used to do in school PE does not help to retain your customers unfortunately, with callers who are placed on hold to music alone hanging up after around two and a half minutes.


There are many benefits to having on hold messages and music playing to your waiting customers, primarily that they will actually wait! Unlike the previous options, callers placed on hold who were able to listen to professionally recorded messages in combination with music stay on hold for around four minutes!

Average Hold Time

The average hold time of a caller when faced with silence, music only or music and messages


Put yourself in your callers’ shoes, when you ring a company how would you feel if there was silence on the line? How would you feel if there was music? Now think how you would feel if there was music with messages?

What better way is there to introduce your company to new customers than by telling them directly what you do, why you do it, how you do it and how well you do it? On hold messages are perfect for instilling confidence in new customers that you’re a professional company and also reassuring returning customers. You’ll turn what would have been a passive caller into an active one!

Think of your return of investment, by opting for both music and messages on hold you’re more likely to keep customers on the line, meaning you’re not losing calls and potential leads. What’s more is that you can target your patient callers whilst they wait happily on the line.

On Hold Marketing is a fantastic way to communicate and build a relationship with your customer before they even speak to anyone within the company. It gives you the chance to promote your products, offers and services whilst they wait, which could not only create a positive conversation when the call is connected but could potentially convert into a sale. This also helps to improve your credibility, by informing your customers of your experience or accreditations you’ll increase their faith in your services.

Hopefully we’ve convinced you to consider the contrast of call outcome from a caller faced with silence to one faced with entertaining and crisp sounding messages and modern music. If you think it’s time for a Spring clean of your on hold audio then get in touch, we promise not to bore you if you’re on hold!





3 Phrases to Banish from your On Hold Messages

Last week we talked about waffle, jargon and gobbledygook and how it shouldn't be littering your on hold marketing and clouding the message you’re trying to get across to your customers.

This week we’re moving onto the phrases for on hold recordings that we think should be used an awful lot less often than they are. We had many, many to choose from but have managed to whittle it down. We’re building on what we mentioned last week; the importance of your script. When it comes to on hold marketing your script, music choice and voice over become the holy trinity. They all need to harmonise with one another, which is why it just won’t do if you've got a well thought out script and a voice over that doesn't fit your brand. It works exactly the same way when you've chosen the perfect voice but your script isn't up to scratch.

Think about the wording of your messages, do they promote what you do or what you’re offering the customer? Simply rewording a message can make all the difference. Take the two messages below as an example, which one would sound more appealing if you were calling? Promote your services easily just by altering how you inform your customers of them.

1.       To pay your bill over the phone, press one for our automated payment line.
2.       Did you know paying your bill is as easy as pushing a button? For the quick and stress-free way to pay please press one.

Now onto those phrases!

If you've ever been on hold for a very long time, which I'm assuming you have, you’ll know how infuriating it is to be told to...

"Please continue to hold, your call is very important to us…"

It’s a little hard to believe that your call is important when you’ve been left waiting, listening to the same repeated message for ages. The customer knows their call is important because they’re calling you but telling them that it’s important to you when no agents are answering doesn’t seem very fair. Don’t de-value your customer’s call by coming across as condescending in your on hold message. If you value your customer’s calls then the most important thing to do is ensure you have enough staffing in place to deal with high demand. We think a selection of entertaining messages that will bring your best services to your customer’s attention are a more suitable option than reminding them that they’re waiting.


"We’re exceptionally busy at the moment, please hold the line and we’ll answer your call as soon as possible..."

Possibly the worst thing you can mention to someone who is giving up their free (or more than likely not free) time to speak to your company. The amount of lunch hours wasted trying to contact a company only to be on hold for the majority of that time is enough to bring a grown man to tears. There’s something too high and mighty about the word exceptionally, it effectively slaps your customer across the face with a clock to say that our time is more important than theirs. It’s quite likely they are also exceptionally busy, telling them this just rubs in the fact that they can’t continue with their productive day, as it’s been halted by patronising on hold messages. Whilst your customer is experiencing a negative aspect of your company you should ensure your on hold marketing reflects the positive aspects instead.


"We know you’re waiting, we will be with you shortly..."

When I hear this phrase I picture someone staring at a ringing phone but not answering it. It’s not necessary to remind a caller that your agents know they’re waiting on the line but their call hasn’t been answered. Don’t forget how effective and inexpensive on hold marketing is in comparison to other methods, utilise the time your customer is waiting to inform them about your company’s services and encourage them to use these. Creating a positive listening experience, rather than drawing attention to the fact your caller is waiting will keep customers more engaged and less grumpy about their wait!

Hopefully this has given you some food for thought, if you actively encourage customers to call you in your marketing strategy then ensure that you’re being optimistic in your on hold recordings, so that if they are placed on hold then the messages they hear aren’t all about how long their wait is and how busy you are!

How to Amplify Your Business with On Hold Marketing

At iNarrator it’s really important to us that we show our clients our human side, we like to be approachable and friendly whilst remaining professional, even more so because we know how many of our clients are fed up of robots on the other end of the line. I’m sure that’s how you’d like to come across in your business too.

Something else that we take seriously are the scripts we produce, they’re all written by us in house after researching your company, tailoring them to your USPs and making you stand out.

We recently came across an article on 2016’s Business Buzzwords and one really stood out to us:

Amplify – a buzzword that couldn’t be more relevant for a company like ours. It should be important to your business too, amplifying isn’t all about cranking up the volume, it’s about raising the bar, making your business boom and heard well above the others.


The Writer, a language consultancy, have noted that amplify is being used in place of words like improve and increase, which is exactly how we want you to see it too. Our scripts aim to polish what you’ve already got whilst keeping things simple. Less is definitely more when it comes to on hold. When creating an on hold message, the most important part is of course the content. What your customers will be listening to whilst they wait must be engaging and current, we write for the ears not the eyes when it comes to on hold messages!

There are a few factors to consider when drafting your message scripts;

Top 3 Tips for On Hold Messages


Would you be bored listening to your messages on hold? Make it exciting and to the point. Cut out any waffle because your customer shouldn’t be waiting long, but at the same time you want to make sure that if they’re listening to your message that it gets to the point quickly.


Which brings us to our next point; how long are your customers usually on hold? Use this as a guide for how many messages you require, there’s nothing worse than hearing the same message again and again so talk to us about looping and spacing out your messages. This will give your customer the chance to actually take in what your messages are saying without bombarding them every 10 seconds.


Lastly - you need to know your audience. We can’t stress enough the importance of effective communication. This is why you need the right combination of content and voice - your message might hit all the right points, but if the delivery doesn't match then customers might lose interest. So consider your target market and current client base. For example, if you’re more of a casual or corporate company, or whether you would benefit from a regional accent or something more national. We have a huge range of national, regional and world voices so you’ll definitely find something to suit your business!

Leave it to the experts...

You can rely on us as being experts in the field to help you avoid using jargon and clouding the message you want to get across to your customers. We can stop you sounding like a sheep in your on hold marketing, so let us help to amplify your company! 

Why we recommend at least 3 minutes of On Hold Audio...

Every day we speak to business owners and marketing managers and we're quite often told:

"We don't put people on hold for long"


"Callers don't hold for more than 15 seconds"

Our response is always the same...

"Yes but you do put people On Hold... and here's the reason we recommend at least 3 minutes of On Hold Audio..."

Your customers call you on a regular basis and if you have the same generic On Hold Message going round and round (or even worse, silence or beeps!) it's going to drive them mad!

Our 3 Minute On Hold Package includes 6 different marketing messages, so your callers are much less likely to hear the same message every time they call.... simple when you think about it.

Take a look at our on hold prices, then request our free On Hold Demo today.


by Steve Hindley - The Creative Director at iNarrator OnHold. You can find Steve on Google+

Take a leaf out of Tim Cook's book...

When an Apple customer emailed Tim Cook (CEO of Apple) to complain about the quality of Apple's call centre music on hold, he was slightly shocked to get a call the very next day to inform him things would be improved.

The Apple customer posted the message below on Reddit, in response to a thread about the Apple Maps team correcting incorrect address data.

I once sent Tim an email about the quality of music while on hold with Apple. It was super low quality, therefore an upbeat rock song sounded like pure distortion and really aggravated me because I was on hold for 20+ minutes for something so simple (iPhone didn’t turn on, needed to set up a repair as in my country no Apple Store = have to send it to another country).

Much to my surprise a lady from Cupertino called me up the next day, saying she’d received a concerning email from Tim about ugly distortion hold music while on the phone, that Tim had tested this himself and agreed that something had to be done. She assured me that the hold music would be tested to make sure it sounded pleasant on all types of phones and connections.

The next time I called Apple, the hold music was indeed very pleasant.

Cook has admitted in interviews that he reads hundreds of emails from customers everyday, and so seems is carrying on the tradition of acting on and replying to emails from customers just as Steve Jobs did as CEO.

Well done Apple and Tim Cook for taking action and improving their Music On Hold.

When did you last call your company to check what callers hear while on hold?

Request your free On Hold Demo here and we'll do it for you. 


by Steve Hindley - The Creative Director at iNarrator OnHold. You can find Steve on Google+

What makes a good On Hold Message?

We are often asked , 'What makes a good On Hold Message?'  We think there are three points that need to be present in each On Hold Message to engage with the caller.  But, before we go into detail, we should point out that an On Hold Message is just one of a number of messages which make up an On Hold Marketing Audio Production - our basic package features 8 individual On Hold Messages.

What makes a good On Hold Message?

1. Good Content. Each message should deal with one specific product or service your business provides, this allows you to promote each offering to its full potential and fully engage with the caller. Reeling off a list of services might be impressive but it's not very interesting for the listener. 

2. Persuasive Writing. A well written and interesting message is essential to engage with the caller and make them take action which leads nicely into point 3....

3. Call to Action. Finally each message should have a Call to Action, i.e. something to prompt the caller to respond. This could be to ask a member of staff for more information when their call is answered, visit a website, follow you on Twitter or Facebook any action which you can track, so you can monitor how your On Hold Marketing Messages are performing. 

It goes without saying that every message needs to be up-to-date as callers will quickly spot old and outdated messages.

Script writing by one of our marketing experts is included with every On Hold Marketing Solution.


by Emily O'Connell - Head Script Writer at iNarrator OnHold