why hold music should matter to your call center

Why Hold Music Should Matter to Your Call Center

An Australian once remained on hold for 15 hours to see how long it would take for his call to be answered. Not everyone is that patient, which is why choosing your hold music is pretty important.

‘Thank you for your call. All of our agents are currently busy. Please listen to this elevator music for the next 10 minutes until someone becomes available.’


Choosing what your customers listen to when placed on hold can be like playing roulette – you’re either really lucky and they love that jam, or you strike out. What you don’t want is for your customer to cringe for the duration they’re on hold or slam the phone down in frustration (assuming they have an old-school rotary telephone.)

The right hold tone can mean the difference between your customer feeling like no time has passed and feeling like they’ve been on hold forever.

It all goes ties back to CX

Remember, your customer phoned you. They’re taking time out of their day to engage with your company and are waiting patiently on the line. Their time is precious, so best keep them entertained.

But what do customers want to listen to?

USA Business Telephone Today placed 30000 callers on hold for one minute to see how they would react to three different scenarios. The group was split into three sections: some were left in utter silence; others were played music; and the remainder heard music interspersed with information.

Those who didn’t hang up outright reported the following:

  • 52% of those left in silence hung up within a minute.
  • 100% of listeners in the silent section thought hold time exceeded one minute (27% believed they were on hold for five minutes.)
  • 44% who were played music thought hold time exceeded one minute.
  • Only 19% of those entertained with both music and information felt they were on hold for longer than a minute. (Only 2% hung up.)

Interestingly, according to a survey conducted by Telephone on Hold, 88% of callers prefer on-hold messages to other hold options, and 16% made purchases based on an on-hold offer.

Clearly, customers prefer a combination of entertainment and informative stimulus while on hold. We’ll repeat that for emphasis. Customers want to hear about your brand while they wait.

So, bring out those special offers, outline your value proposition and sing your brand values. You have a captive audience and they clearly don’t mind listening. Just don’t go overboard. You want to keep your customers engaged and entertained.

Which hold music do I choose?

Music can affect your mood. Science says so. Music can help decrease stress, improve focus, act as a distraction and even boost happiness.

Research conducted by the Society of Education, Music and Psychology Research showed that listening to music put participants in a positive frame of mind. Imagine the benefits this would have for your customer care help center where callers are already frustrated and in a bad mood before they even click dial.

Choose something uplifting that ties in with your brand personality. Something to get your customers bobbing their heads and snapping their fingers.

Inbound/Outbound Magazine reports that out of every 10 calls made, seven callers are placed on hold. If Newsweek is to be believed, this translates to an average of one year spent on hold in a lifetime. Think of your customer. Remember the last time you had to listen to Toto’s Africa on repeat for 30 minutes straight – and the nervous tic that resulted.

Choosing the right hold music is no decision to take lightly.

Liked what you just read? Read why hold time should be on your contact center watchlist.