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6 Characteristics of an Effective Message On Hold Script


If you’re considering a custom-scripted music and message on hold audio announcement on your telephone system, take a moment to ask yourself, “What do I wish to accomplish with my script?”

Keep in mind that you only have the caller for a short time. You’ll need to be succinct and to the point. You’ll need to use “economy of words” while keeping the caller engaged. Rather than provide a list of “dos” and “donts”, I have compiled a list of six characteristics of a message on hold script that can keep focus where it belongs: on the customer getting a good impression of your company and a better idea of why calling was the right move.

Authoritative. Take pride in being the expert in the field—the ultimate authority. The authoritative voice is reassuring and confident, but not boastful.

  • You want_______ and we’re committed to providing it…
  • Looking for _________? Turn to us, like more than 50 Fortune-500 firms did last year.
  • We can give you the advantage…
  • When second-best is not an option…
  • When we started in (year), we set out to do things differently.

Compelling. Studies show that a well-crafted message on hold will make one minute seem like 40 seconds to someone waiting for their call to be picked up. The job of the on-hold content is to inform, yes, but its foremost task is to keep the caller from disengaging. Here are some ideas.

Use a short, familiar phrase that quickly engages the listener.

  • Ready, set…
  • Everybody likes…
  • Nobody likes…
  • The good news is…
  • The best of the best –
  • Time flies when you’re having fun –
  • Stop me if you’ve heard this one –
  • Need to stand out in the crowd?

Another way to compel the listener is to ask a question…

  • Have you ever…?
  • Remember when…?
  • Have you hear the news…?

Conversational. Most people can spot a meaningless or manipulative presentation a mile away. A “one-on-one”, conversational tone can gain the trust of the listener.

Unreal Person (avoid)                         vs.                       Real Person (you)

We’ll be with you momentarily                                       We’ll be right with you

Thank you for your willingness to hold                        Thanks for holding

All of you should know…                                                    You should know (one-to-one)

Further,                                                                                       Oh, and one more thing…

Undoubtedly,                                                                            Without a doubt

It has come to our attention                                               We’ve noticed

In retrospect                                                                              Looking back

Credible. Want to be credible? Be specific.  In an effort to add real meat to the message, find some facts. See my previous post, Credibility Sells.

Friendly. Over the 13 years we’ve been in business, we’ve often asked clients to describe the style or tone of their custom spoken message. The terms heard most often are, “friendly” and “professional”. What drives this?

It’s not just the insipid brochure-talk and synthesized music that turn people off while holding. It’s the very fact that they have been placed on hold. While standing in line at the bank, a man was overheard explaining, “I called your bank and you put me on hold.” He was angry to have been placed on hold. People want personal attention and they want it now. While the bank manager could not avoid the man’s hold time, he could have had a voice on-hold that was so friendly and professional that the experience would have been at least tolerable for even the most irritable customer. Please watch for my upcoming post on this topic. Being friendly is critical… and we’ve got a lot to say about it. Stay tuned.

Helpful. Put more meat in your message on hold. When a caller is being helped, he/she won’t hang up. How can our script provide “help”?

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Solve A Problem
A caller may want to know, “have I called the right place?” It is reassuring to hear that my problem is about to be solved. One of the questions our sales staff is to ask the Easy On Hold client is, “What problem do you solve for your callers?”

  • Nobody likes a noisy neighbor. That’s why you’ll be glad to know our air conditioners have been rated the quietest brand 3 years in a row. (Notice the familiar phrase lead-in, the focus on you and the specifics—3 years! This is almost a complete paragraph/segment. Just add a tease close such as, “You’ll hear a lot more about the quiet air conditioner when we pick up the line in just a moment.”)
  • Identity theft happens millions of times each year. With Wachovia Bank’s “Crest Protect” program, you’ll be safe.
  • Keeping your home’s carpets clean isn’t easy, especially in the winter. Fortunately, getting them to look like new again is easy.
  • Will the new airline regulations cause you to change your travel plans? Pick up some great new travel tips on our website: Capital Travel dot com.
  • Want to know how to get more miles per gallon? Clean filters and properly inflated tires can help, but for all around better performance, bring your car to the experts at Kyle’s Garage for a tune up.

I’ve shared with you some of the vast knowledge we’ve gained over years of working with thousands of music on hold messaging customers. There is a right way to do it. It is not as simple as it may seem. Work with an expert when it comes to properly handling your customers on hold. 70% of your callers will experience “on-hold time”. What they hear says a lot about you.

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