Sound Communication: The Holdcom Blog

Message on Hold, IVR System, or both?


A common question Holdcom encounters is: what is the difference between IVR and Message on Hold?

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems are telephone infrastructures that respond to digital input [pressing a number, or speaking a word]. For example, “please press 1 for Client Relations” is a typical IVR voice prompt. IVR consists of layers, and the best systems have the fewest layers before your arrival [fulfillment] point.

If IVR is the frame, Message on Hold is the artwork. MOH is voice and music content played while callers are waiting on hold [in queue or manually held] for a live representative. Though it lacks interactivity like IVR, it's capabilities to provide more in depth and entertaining content makes it a valuable link in the call processing chain.  Generally, Message On Hold programs are  longer than IVR voice prompts – perhaps three to four minutes– and continue to loop in the event a caller is on hold for an extended period of time.

IVR systems tend to be more useful for large companies or call centers that have many departments and handle a large influx of calls. By nature they process the caller rather than engage them,  focusing more on efficiency than content.

On the other hand, Message on Hold focuses primarily on content. Though the experience is passive listening, these programs can use music and social media to encourage a call to action.

Some businesses choose one or the other, IVR or Message On Hold, to fit their needs. If so, they may be missing opportunities.  Though both programs have different functions and structures, they are not mutually exclusive. Two channels of information allow segmentation: Is your customer looking for a specific department, or do they wish to speak to a live representative? Are they willing to wait on hold, thereby hearing announcements and special events, or are they looking for on-the-point information, such as store hours, availability, etc?

Message on Hold readily augments and enhances the IVR experience.  When considering the value of an IVR system, the conversation should continue to Message On Hold.

Tags: Message On hold, IVR announcement