10 Tips for the Perfect On-Hold Music

10 Tips for the Perfect On-Hold Music

Posted in in Articles by Mark Malekpour on

Choosing music for your telephone on-hold system isn’t too hard. But there are some guidelines you should follow to ensure you don’t make simple mistakes and get the very best results possible...

  1. Don’t use default music
  2. Choose something that isn’t repetitive
  3. Avoid rock music
  4. Avoid commercial/pop music
  5. Choose music that represents your business
  6. Choose classical music wisely
  7. Add useful messages
  8. Don’t apologise for wait time on a loop
  9. Be seasonal – change it up for holidays
  10. Avoid lyrics

Don’t use the default music

If you have a music on-hold system installed with an existing set of music tracks, so does everyone else who has that system. It will remind callers they are on-hold and waiting for yet another business to answer their call. Choose a unique piece of music that is different.

Choose something that isn’t repetitive

While you should answer the phone as soon as possible, sometimes a wait is unavoidable. Choose a music track that isn’t repetitive. If it is, the wait will appear longer for the customer and make the wait feel unnecessarily more inconvenient.

Avoid Rock Music, well almost

In general fast, heavy, thrashy or angsty music will amp up your listeners and make them impatient. It will also serve to annoy much of the general demographic, that is unless your audience happen to be youth or culturally related to that style of music.

Instead find music that is easier to listen to. Go for more relaxed, easier, softer rhythms or songs with less impact. That way you can slow down time by allowing the listeners ear to catch on to a gentle track and follow it.

Also bear in mind that when digital audio files are encoded for use with music on hold systems the sound quality is far reduced and similar to that of a handheld AM transistor radio. In this sense pick a simple and easy groove that will translate well into your customers audio experience of your brand.

Tip - Choose a music track that is simple, not too fast and easy on the ear.

Avoid Commercial/Pop Music

Unless your brand identifies with pop music/youth markets then we would suggest avoiding pop music.

Why, because it is everywhere. It is generally tedious, intrusive, loud, annoying, over played and repetitive. Do most people really like what is called pop music today? Well yes some do but don't alienate the other parts of your customer base.
Instead think to yourself "what other companies or business are similar to mine” and “what music would they play in their store or on their phone system?”

Choose Music that Represents YOUR Business

Music can be a powerful part of your overall brand and customer experience. All major companies now use music as part of the marketing mix. It is powerful in that it can paint a picture or create a feeling like nothing else does. if that picture fits your business then BINGO BABY!


Ask yourself..

What music track or song represents the feel of my business?
Music is a brand element. What music style would suit your brand?
Should it be modern, classical, trendy, familiar, relaxed, enveloping, uplifting, trustworthy, solid, reliable?

Think of one or two keywords that best represent your brand and find music with that attribute/nature.

Use Classical Music Wisely

Classical music oozes class and sophistication. If this fits your business then it can work well. But choose it wisely. Classical music can be quite dynamic with very quiet sections then very loud sections. Over the phone, it will either sound too quiet, or too loud. When using classical music, look for a piece that has consistency, like a piano sonata, or violin concerto.

Add USEFUL Messages

Add some messages that could aid the caller’s requirements. If they require a specific extension or department, let them know how to get there and avoid waiting in a queue only to be transferred. Don’t try to up-sell!

Don’t Apologise Continuously for Being On-Hold

While it seems respectful to acknowledge the customer’s wait, don’t apologise over and over on a loop and say “we value your call”. It’s meaningless and border-line insulting to be told by a recorded message on a loop that you “value their call”. The best way to respect the customer is to answer their call and help.

Be Seasonal for the Holidays

Don’t be afraid to add in some seasonal music for the holiday period with a personal message. If it’s Christmas, add some music that is festive but not too corny and include a message that wishes them season’s greetings. It’s a nice touch.

Avoid Lyrics

Don’t use music that is a song with lyrics. Nobody calls a business to listen to a song over the phone. Lyrics sound awful over the telephone and you can’t include branded messaging over the top.

Posted by Mark Malekpour

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