Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Is Your Hold Music Doing More Harm Than Good?

October 27, 2014

Hold music has often been billed as one of the great solutions to call centers' wait time issues. It lets the customer know that the hold is still going, as opposed to having been disconnected midway through the wait for some reason, and it also gives the customer something to do to relax said customer and divert the attention. But there are some songs that really shouldn't be a part of a musical hold system in the first place, and a recent study from Face for Business shows off just what some of these are.

Face for Business conducted a One Poll survey of 2,000 people, and discovered what the British public finds to be the 25 most annoying songs to hear on hold. While some songs were probably to be expected—the top three most annoying are Psy's “Gangnam Style” at three, Justin Bieber's “Baby” at two and the most annoying was “You're Beautiful” from James Blunt—some of the songs in question represent some of the world's classics, including Mozart's “Symphony no. 40” which came in just behind “Gangnam Style” at the fourth most annoying.

However, it may not be the songs that are annoying so much as how the songs are used. The study had other findings as well, including noting that nine out of ten customers had hung up after waiting seven minutes or more on hold, and the average British customer has been placed on said hold three times in the last month. What's more, one respondent in three indicated that callers hung up after being repeatedly played the same song.

Much of this study makes some sense here. What if the problem so much isn't the songs used in musical hold functions so much as the actual practice of hold itself? Yes, a musical hold is a great thing when a customer is on hold—it beats listening to dead air—but why not put more effort into minimizing hold times in the first place?

Using tools like callback options make a great way to break down the hold process; instead of making the customer wait on hold, listening to whatever music was selected for a musical hold—music the customer may not even like to begin with—let the customer go on with the day as planned and call the customer back later. Even a favorite song can become grating when it plays over and over again for a period of several minutes, and it's even worse when that music is masking a wait to get an important question answered or a problem taken care of. Every note is just one more point saying that the problem isn't being addressed, and enough of these can be maddening to most any customer. Also, consider more customer self-service options, a move that puts more options in the customer's hand and prevents issues of on-hold annoyance.

So is the answer to dump musical hold altogether? No; musical hold can be a valuable thing for customers on hold, and should stay in place. What should be done, however, is minimize the amount of hold that's actually used. Make it a goal that customers never hear more than one song in a musical hold before either getting to an agent or getting the option to get a call back. It's hard to be annoyed when a customer's on hold for just one song, and that's the kind of goal that a company should get behind.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi