Although modern phone systems are capable of distributing incoming calls to an unlimited number of extensions, it’s inevitable that there are still cases where the caller will have to wait before being connected to someone. However, in a world where every second counts, there is nothing more annoying than waiting – especially if that time is spent in dead silence.
Thankfully, most companies know that remaining silent while the customer waits is a business-killer. This is why businesses turn to music on hold (MOH), one of the best methods of keeping callers’ nerves calm and ensure they don’t hang up in frustration. Contrary to popular belief, however, the selection of on hold music is a delicate process that has to be carried out carefully to achieve the right effect.
Why Is On-Hold Music Needed?
At first the idea of on hold music doesn’t seem to be too important, but studies show that over 70% of callers will drop their call after a minute if they hear nothing but silence while 35% of them won’t even attempt to make a second call. Additionally, listening to silence amplifies the feeling of being forgotten and could lead to the false assumption that the call assistant just doesn’t care and had ended the call.
This is where MOH enters the picture by setting the tone of the upcoming phone conversation, as well as creating brand awareness, shortening the perception of wait time, and – most importantly – managing customer anxiety. Still, picking the appropriate tune to be played while the caller is waiting is a challenge in itself but, thankfully, there are a few general rules that could be useful in selecting the right music.
Finding the Right On-Hold Music
Knowing the Audience
The rule of thumb of selecting a fitting MOH is to understand your clientele and what they might expect to hear. To achieve that, simply take a look at data on those that call your business most frequently, go through a selection of music that the highest demographic might want to listen to – i.e. classical for older clients, pop for younger callers – and the right tune will eventually pop up.
Genre and Length
Although most businesses play safe and pick either classical or pop music, the most ideal candidate for MOH is Muzak, a brand of background music comprising of generic, orchestral arrangements that was developed for this exact purpose.
Regardless of the chosen genre, though, it’s best to opt for more complex, longer music, as it engages the thinking process of the caller and prevents their mind from wandering.
Cisco's On-Hold Music, the Most Famous Muzak
Royalty-Free vs Licensed
Selecting the right MOH is already tough, but copyright law mixes things up even more. Playing such music is deemed to be broadcasting and, therefore, requires the purchase of a license from the music’s owner, which is usually a performing rights organization like BMI or ASCAP.
Note, however, that licenses usually cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars, depending on the chosen track, so if you want to avoid that then it might be better to turn to the public domain – which is full of classical pieces – or search for anything that can’t be categorized as current, popular, post 1900, or copyrighted music.
A popular licensed track might create a more positive attitude towards the business, since it will give the company a sense of ‘coolness’. However, these particular tracks are expensive and not necessarily worth the cost since it’ll need to be changed regularly to fit in with trends – and therefore increase the cost even more.
Intermission With Messages
A professional business has many ways to communicate important information about itself and the products or services that it offers, and doing so while the caller is on hold is one such method. In fact, interrupting the MOH helps break the monotony and it may even lead to the caller purchasing the product or service advertised during the wait.
If not for marketing, then the message can be about anything but an apology; not only are apologies dishonest, but they also create the false illusion that the wait time will be over soon.
On-Hold Music in Cloud Phone Systems
Since the on-hold music is an integral part of any decent business, it’s not surprising that cloud phone systems like Grasshopper and RingCentral provide this feature by default. And just like many other features, MOH can be set up in different ways, too.
For starters, cloud phone system users can opt for the system’s default on-hold music – which is already licensed so there are no further costs to be paid – or they can upload their own custom music with or without an additional informational message. The option to pick the most fitting music is already a huge asset, but VoIP solutions don’t stop there. Unlike traditional phone systems, where there is room for only one track, virtual phone systems are more than capable of playing various songs based on different criteria, such as time, day, caller, and even extension number.
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