Choosing A New Business Phone System? Read This First.

Streaming Music On Hold
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This one missing feature could set you back decades.

Switching to a new business phone system or contact center platform? Don’t forget to ask your vendor this key question: Will the new business phone system integrate with my streaming music on hold solution? The answer might change what callers think of your business while they wait on hold! The high-tech, flexible streaming technology you enjoy today could be unknowingly replaced by old-time default system music that becomes the unwanted responsibility of your tech team.

We want to help you ask the right questions before it’s too late to go “back to the future” circa 1985.

“We were so excited by our new phone system until we tried to update our on hold and realized that we could no longer stream, and had to go back to using files again. It was so archaic. The salesman never explained this to us, and we realize now that it’s because he never even thought about it himself. Nobody does, except for Easy On Hold®. This has been a major setback and we wished we would’ve asked more questions before signing the contract.”

Easy On Hold customer

Streaming vs. Files: There’s a big difference.

As your legacy phone system begins to show its age, your team has no doubt discovered attractive new VOIP systems that promise more internal and external communication features. You’re not alone. Many SMBs and Enterprises eventually find themselves hunting for the holy grail phone system that will allow their teams to communicate with each other and with their callers perfectly.

While more and more communications platforms have adopted Easy On Hold®’s Streaming Queue Music, too many still have not. Many of the most sophisticated communications platforms will try to convince you that hold and queue music from audio files is an adequate solution. We say, “no.” There’s a big difference between file-based hold music and streaming audio.

Since Easy On Hold® launched the first on hold queue stream in 2013, more than 80% of its customers have converted to EOH’s streaming technology. New customers choose EOH because the streaming music on hold feature makes hold time more meaningful and enjoyable while making life easy for administrators.

Here are some of the reasons why a streaming on hold feature is so helpful to your business:

Technology professionals prefer streaming because:

  • Messages are changed in the stream, not by handling files. You won’t have to load files with every update. Simply load the stream once and step away.
  • Streams are automated to start and stop by date for each topic (individual announcement). No more out-of-date audio files left on the system.
  • The liability for licensing the content that is heard on your phones is the responsibility of Easy On Hold.
  • Bandwidth consumption is just 0.025 GB/hour.
  • Streams provide real data that can be used in implementation and troubleshooting.
  • Once installed, the URL does not change. No further maintenance required.

Business and marketing professionals prefer streaming because:

  • Scheduling automation allows messages to play on certain days of the week and at specific times of day. You can also remove or change them on demand. Add a new message from the content control center any time.
  • Changes are heard immediately. You’ll never wonder when topics will be played, or if they were programmed at all.
  • Dayparting, meaning “good morning” and “good afternoon” phrases, can be used to surprise and delight callers.
  • Topics are played randomly in the stream, too, (unless otherwise pre-scheduled) which makes audio less predictable and on-hold times seem shorter. This reduces call abandonment and increases customer engagement.
  • Easily manage content for multiple locations or departments using any browser or device.
  • Easy On Hold streams let you set priority ratings for each topic, so your high-value, time-sensitive messages are delivered with pinpoint accuracy.

The alternative to streaming is to use an audio file that must be uploaded into the new business phone system.

Your internet service provider (ISP), managed service provider (MSP), or CTO has introduced the idea of a cloud-based (hosted) communications platform. The idea is appealing. These platforms make it easy to integrate new customer management tools, accommodate off-site employees, and expand as the business grows. When you ask about the music on hold function, you’re told that it’s all included. Yes, callers hear music when they’re being transferred and when they must wait on hold. But can you change the music? When Microsoft first introduced Teams as a “do-it-all” communications solution, there was only “default” music on hold, with no option for loading audio whatsoever.

If the new platform you’re considering adopting requires the loading of audio files for callers in queue and on hold, you may be in for a disappointment.

Top 5 Problems With Using Audio Files On Hold

  1. Changing the files is a hassle. Who is going to change the audio file when it becomes out of date? Recently, thousands of customers needed to change their messages to address the Covid-10 (Coronavirus) crisis. Many needed a technicial support person, and sometimes that comes with a cost.
  2. Stale content is inevitible. Most of the time, the phone on hold music and messages are loaded to the phone system with no plan or automation to change them.
  3. Files may play from the beginning every time. If you have a 4-minute, 8-paragraph message on hold audio file playing from the beginning each time a call is placed on hold, most of your message is never heard.
  4. Callers hear the same messages every time they are placed on hold. If the caller is placed on hold more than once during their interaction with your company, they must endure the exact same messages in the exact same order.
  5. Generic content is ineffective. Studies show that the more relevant your marketing messages are, the more effective they are. Generic message on hold topics are dull and remind us that we are “on-hold”. Because you are loading audio files up to the cloud, you are concerned that they will not get changed on a timely basis, so you use more generic messaging, a marketing missfire.

These hosted business phone systems only take audio files (for now):

  • 8 X 8
  • Vonage
  • Ring Central
  • GoTo Connect
  • 3CX
  • Ooma Office
  • Aircall
  • Comcast
  • Cox
  • Weave
  • Grasshopper
  • Five9
  • Teams
  • twillio
  • Phone.com
  • Dialpad
  • NICE in contact
  • Genesys Cloud
  • Avaya OneCloud

New Business Phone Systems With Streaming Music On Hold

Luckily, if you look, you can find streaming-integrated systems to suit a variety of business sizes and needs. We continue to grow our streaming service to meet the specifications of more telephone platforms. Our new Streaming Queue Music™ cloud service brings digital streaming connectivity to various platforms in a wide range of formats: HLS, RTP, HTTP, HTTPS, SIP, PCM, and more.

Easy On Hold® recommends the following companies as great partners to select when you switch platforms to preserve the dynamic flexibility and content control your teams, and your callers have come to enjoy.

Hosted (off-premise) business phone systems with streaming MOH feature:

  • Bicom Systems
  • NetExpress
  • Nextiva
  • OnSIP
  • Sparkplug IP
  • TPX
  • Vodia
  • Voneto ePlatform

On-premise business phone systems with streaming MOH feature:

  • Allworx
  • Avaya (Aura Media Server)
  • Cisco UCCE, PCCE, UCCX, CUCM
  • Fortinet/Fortivoice
  • FreePBX
  • FreeSWITCH
  • Genesys Engage, PureConnect
  • Mitel MiVoice
  • Yeastar S50, S100, S300

Don’t see your brand in either of these lists? Contact us to see if streaming is possible.

Easy On Hold engineers are working with top platform architects right now.

The country’s savviest brands are shifting their attention to perfecting the on-hold experience in order to drive sales, reduce hang-ups and increase customer engagement. According to a 2020 study by Walker, customer experience has overtaken price and product as the key brand differentiator. Bringing in the Easy On Hold® team before you make a move to a new business phone system is an important step. Often, discussions between engineering teams open up new possibilities for unique, effective customer experiences. Multiple streams, each with a particular type of caller in mind, will build your brand as one that cares and understands customers.

You may also find that some telephone system providers will falsely advise you that music on hold is unimportant, which ignores the strong customer demand for more engaging experiences. As hold times have more than doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, the in-queue on-hold experience has become critical to business success. 

Yes, 20% of EOH’s customers still use files. The new EOH Content Control Center allows the arrangement of various topics and messages into easily downloaded audio files. This makes it easy to keep content fresh.

Please see our full list of compatible systems for complete details about business phone systems with integrated streaming capabilities and how to stream content into your system of choice. 

Finally, we offer free 30-minute consultations if you would like one of our experts to get to the heart of your telephone platform’s capabilities and advise what you can do to serve your callers best when you are planning a move to a new platform. 

We hope this post provides some insight that will help you persuade the right stakeholders to preserve the functionality and efficiency that your business or call center needs so you can continue to deliver a great hold experience for your callers.

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Founder of Easy On Hold and Brandi Music. Thinker, writer, speaker, tinkerer, husband, father, musician.