While Message On Hold programs are the traditional way to share content with people waiting on hold, but one of Apple's latest patents is seeking to change the way we interact with our friends - and potentially businesses - on hold.
The Patent Particulars
Of course, the sharing information would be customizable, so users could choose who sees what content.
An additional patent further enhances the telephone call by providing users information specific to the person they're calling - when you last spoke, when their birthday is, even if you have a meeting scheduled with them in the future.
Implications for Businesses
Right now, this looks like an iPhone-to-iPhone feature, but the technology could have huge implications, especially for businesses. Similar to the features presented by an intelligent IVR system, on hold visual menus could complement recorded Message On Hold content by answering frequently asked questions, providing operating hours and directions, or encouraging callers to opt-in to email lists for special offers.
Of course, the same caveats that apply to on hold programming will apply to visual menus - It is always unwise to try to sell or promote to callers waiting for assistance with tech support, for example. Already frustrated and having problems, the messages could actually discourage users from purchasing additional products.
All in all, Apples new patent reinforces an ongoing trend: content, especially snackable content. If you can provide useful, engaging visual and audio content during hold time, you'll be well on your way to helping customers and boosting sales.