Sound Communication: The Holdcom Blog

How to Structure a Message On Hold Program

You can do a lot with Message On Hold programs: Give client testimonials, offer special deals and promotions. create a game show, let your CEO or President present a special message...and the list goes on. In fact, the options you have are nearly limitless: as long as you record it, you can put it on hold.

But sometimes, you need to go back to basics. You need to walk before you can run. You need to know the rules before you're allowed to break them.

Message On Hold 101: The Basics

Some basic considerations for any Message On Hold program:

  • An on hold program plays through your phone system for callers on hold.
  • Messages On Hold also include music, which plays for 10 to 15 seconds between each message.
  • The average program is 4 minutes long, although longer programs are possible.
  • Voice Over Talents typically read 100-112 words per minute, which means 400-450 words total for your on hold message.
  • Four to five paragraphs comprise an average program.

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The Anatomy of Message On Hold

You can say a lot to callers on hold, so it's important to keep a structure in mind for your program content. The format below can help you ensure your program has the appropriate structure:

  • Introduction: Greet callers and give a brief overview of your company. You can start with a basic message like, "thank you for calling {name of company}. We'll be back on the line shortly." Then, give some more information like:
  • Operating and Customer Support Hours
  • Your Location
  • Number of years in business
  • A summary of what your company does, including products or services offered.
  • Your slogan or tagline.

Click Here for Message On Hold Script Samples

  • Unique Selling Proposition: It's important to tell callers what makes your company unique and why they should do business with you. This is the key place to include specific branding, awards received, and anything that differentiates your company in your industry. It might be your dedication to quality or customer service, your 24/7 live support, your price matching policy, or your ability to customize products for a specific customer's needs. It's important to include the information that makes you stand out the most. 
  • Primary Products and Services: Be sure that callers know what you're the most well known for. Then, call them to action. The simplest way to do this is to tell callers to, "Ask a representative for more information when they return to the line," but you might also consider directing callers to your website.
  • Secondary Products and Services: Make sure to give your secondary products adequate airtime. This is a great opportunity to introduce a new product, cross-sell, or offer a special promotion for callers on hold. By highlighting your "secondary" products or services, presenting offers callers probably don't already know about. Again, be sure to instruct them to ask a representative for more information.
  • Give information about alternative assistance: Often, clients call looking for similar information: Frequently Asked Questions, Directions, Product Catalogs, or Pricing. To include all of this information in your Message On Hold program would make it too long. Instead, tell callers where they can find this information. Frequently, this kind of information is easily accessible on a company's website. Give your web address and direct callers online where they can find this information. It will help alleviate some of your call volume and leave your agents free to address more complicated customer concerns. You can also let callers know your about your Facebook Page, Twitter Handle, or Blog for additional resources.

How to Determine the Order of your Paragraphs

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In general, the order of your paragraphs doesn't matter because the program plays in a loop. Whenever a caller is put on hold, they'll hear the part of the program that's currently playing. Every caller on hold hears the same thing at the same time. This is how most phone systems will work.

In some situations, your system will start playing the message from the beginning every time. Every caller will hear the beginning of the program every time they're put on hold. This might be the case if you're using a VoIP telephone provider. If this is the case for your phone system, place the most important information at the beginning of your message, so the greatest number of callers will hear it

Whatever you decide to include in your on hold communication, be sure that you are using time spent on hold to provide informative, interesting, and engaging content to your callers. They'll know more about your business, products, and services and will feel well taken care of.


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