As a customer, you’ve probably experienced the chill of on-hold music several dozen times in your life. As a business, you probably offer hold music to your callers as a matter of course.
Hold music gives customers a transition between customer service representatives. It fills the blanks with more than empty space. Depending on the style, it may even be entertaining or informative.
This you know. But are you aware that on-hold music can keep customers engaged with your brand and improve the outcome of inbound calls? When you structure your Business Phone System properly, you give customers confidence that you’ll assist them well and quickly. We’ll take a deeper look at these ideas in the paragraphs that follow.
The History of On-Hold Music
A pioneer of telephony, Major General George Owen Squier, who was credited with the invention of multiplexing, also helped develop the concept of Muzak.
Squier’s development of multiplexing in the early 1900’s – the technique of transmitting multiple signals across a single wire (such as more than one phone call across a single copper wire) – made it possible to send music through wires without the need for radio signals, which was expensive to send and receive at the time.
Before radio became cheaper to consumers and businesses in the 1930’s, Squier’s efforts lead to the development of wire-fed music that was piped into, among other places, elevators. This led, of course, to the overarching term, elevator music.
Breaking the Silence
A comprehensive blog post at Beatsuite mentions that the Muzak company was a frontrunner in this market. The company’s involvement ultimately lead to a second generalized term still in use today: muzak.
Muzak, Beatsuite notes, is characterized by being “easy listening, relaxing, and lounge.” It has meant to function so well as a space filler that, although it was present, “you barely knew it was there.”
From Elevators to Phones
Beatsuite also notes that, in 1962, an inventor names Alfred Levy had developed and patented a technique to create an on-hold music system similar to what we hear today.
The key to effective on-hold music, both in the 60’s and today, is its function as a space filler that listeners “barely” know is there.
If background music was more intrusive, it may not have the same positive effects seen in business telephone systems.
On-Hold Music Benefits
When callers leave a queue or hear static during a call, the experience between the business and caller is hindered. Hold music and messages help keep callers at ease, and it may keep them informed while they wait to reach a sales or technical service team.
A study published at the Journal of Applied Social Psychology revealed that playing pop music “you wouldn’t expect to hear” can somewhat buffer a caller from negative thoughts typically associated with customer service calls.
The study showed that, for instance, Micheal Jackson’s “On the Line” performed better than Jackson’s “Heal the World.” Although both are recognizable as Jackson songs, the former didn’t patronize customers with a subtle message of healing humanity. “On the Line” did the job of helping customers pass the time, but it didn’t suggest how their experience would be wonderful or fulfilling, which appeared to be heavy-handed.
Beatsuite notes in its blog that on-hold music helps callers avoid silence. It also points to a USA Business Telephone Today study that showed 52 percent of callers hanging up after one minute on hold when they sat in silence. Contrary, only 13 percent were found to hang up after one minute when background music was played. And only two percent hung up after one minute when music and information were offered while on hold.
Moreover, that study suggests that individuals perceive time to pass much more quickly when they had listened to music and/or information.
Show Off Your Brand
Your own business can use on-hold music to give customers a better experience when reaching out to your sales and support teams.
It could be worthwhile to conduct your own studies about which type of music works best for your customers. If that’s out of reach, however, you could start with a few basic steps:
- Play songs that are upbeat and recognizable
- Intersperse music with messages that show off your brand
- Be kind to customers by respecting their time with decent music and quick answer times
The messages you pass along to your customers are contained within the background music itself and within your spoken messages.
Looking at the research, it’s probably best to keep your customers’ on-hold music within the bounds of easy-listening pop. Just stray away from “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” when making your selections.
You can also mix in messages about your recent sales or promotions. Callers will be interested to know how they can benefit in their future interactions with their brand. Reminding them to be “stay positive” within your messages, though, could backfire as much as positive pop songs.
What VirtualPBX Offers
All our Business Phone Plans come with an Automated Attendant that’s capable of playing on-hold music to your callers.
You can program it with custom songs and messages. Or if you want something more professional, you can contact our partner, Snap Recordings, to create greetings, announcements, and hold music (with or without messages) that fit your needs.