Sound Communication: The Holdcom Blog

Psychology of Telephone 'On Hold' Programming

psychology of message on hold, customer relations, on hold messages, audio marketingCirca 1987, Dr. Jim Will published a whitepaper titled The Psychology of Telephone ‘On Hold’ Programming. Contrary to many telephony-based research initiatives, this paper focused on the psychological and emotional affects of waiting on hold, and how businesses can adjust their messages to yield the best results – or the least caller abandonment.

Dr. Will first focuses on playing music on hold, where he highlights three key areas to “best reduce anxiety (and subsequently lower the incidence of hang ups) [in] the ideal ‘on hold’ program”:

  1. Generic upbeat music
  2. Predictable, 30 second musical selections of varied types that terminate and tension release the caller
  3. Longer, less-repetitive formats

Dr. Will then takes “the hold program as a sales tool,” providing a “checklist” for the “optimal ‘on hold’ program consisting of music and verbal presentations”:

  1. A variety of information genres to maximize caller interest and cognitive functions, placed in a structured manner.
  2. Maintenance of longer program formats to minimize “wearout” (the listener tuning out)
  3. Upbeat and personable verbal information delivery (live voice talent).

Take a listen to your message on hold. How do you think your customers are reacting to your choice of music? Is your information converting the initial “resentment and negative feelings” from being placed on hold into a positive experience?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

white paper

Tags: message on hold