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On Hold Messages That Work

Article by script writer Greg Simmel

Julie cook from easy on hold.

Here are 5 solid ideas for putting on hold messages to work. That means callers are more engaged and more likely to respond, because you followed these key tips for successful on hold content.

There are 3 main avenues of commerce into just about every business: Your front door, the Internet and your phones. All are important, but the telephone is possibly the most overlooked gateway to your success. Phone time presents an ideal opportunity to escalate sales. Effective messages on hold improve business by communicating the latest and greatest to a captive audience already interested in doing business with you. Here are 5 vital tips for best practices in developing on hold messages the work.

Get To The Point

So if your message on hold script looks good on paper, or a website, then it's fine, right? Nope. Print copy is a much different beast than audio copy. Obviously, print copy appeals to the eye and can be read and re-read over and over again while skipping "non-essential" details. On Hold copy has to be approached differently. Callers don't have the advantage to self-edit. Say what needs to be said, and in a way that works for the EAR. Here's an example from a message on hold for a pest removal company:

"Moles. They can cause a lot of damage. You don't like moles, and neither do we. Let's get rid of 'em. We'll be right back to tell you how."

Know Your Average Hold Time

You should know, or at least have an educated guess, about the average length of hold time your callers experience. It could be 10 seconds; it could be six minutes. If callers stay on hold for a minute or longer, don't bombard them with a non-stop recitation of all you do. There's only so much a caller can absorb. Talk to your music and message on hold company about spacing out the voiced messages in a way that gives the caller some musical breaks between topics. Short hold times call for short, single-idea paragraphs. Longer hold times give you more options.

Update, Update, Update

You have a lot to deal with when it comes to marketing. Have Messages-on-Hold productions fallen down the priority list? You want your messages to be relevant and up-to-date, rather than bland and generic. Think about putting your current promotions and most important announcements in the spotlight. Plan ahead. You might also consider leveraging the power of a music on hold message player that automatically updates for you. The most advanced devices, like the iProMOH can schedule unique messages to be played exactly when the time is right. Here are some examples of messages with a sharp focus:

"Say aloha to Hawaii Bonus Days on Norwegian Cruise Line. Book any Hawaii cruise by September 1st and get $100 to spend on board. This deal is combinable with our Hawaii cruise fares starting at $1,099 and air & cruise packages from $1,949. Ask about special savings for select U.S. and Canadian residents with rates starting at $999. So start practicing your hula because now's the perfect time to book your piece of paradise. Please stay on the line and our next representative will be right with you."

Call to Action!

If you are already changing and refreshing your audio regularly, you may sometimes hit a bit of a dry spell. If this happens, ask yourself, "What do I want my caller to do?" That will prompt a call to action that can not only spice up your on hold messages, but spark callers to do more business with you.

Have Fun!

Who says on hold messages have to be dull? Try one of these techniques to bring a little cheerfulness to your patient callers:

  • Play off the current season. Spring cleaning. Summer vacation. Fall sports. Holiday and New Year's Day. In content marketing it's called an editorial calendar. What's coming with the change of seasons?
  • What callers don't know. Introduce a really cool fact about your company that might raise an eyebrow (or two). You'll boost your hold message's entertainment value while making the audio more memorable.
  • Voices and sounds. Mix male and female voices in a conversation. Easy On Hold client Multipet International has a fun product to begin with: dog toys! It lends itself naturally to an entertaining twist:

"Multipet's Migrators, our classic plush stuffed birds with honking sounds, have taken on a new addition. We have put recycled water bottles inside our migrators, eliminating the stuffing and adding the crunch sounds that dogs enjoy (crunchy water bottle sounds). Ohhh, the dogs are gonna love this!"

As a professional script writer, I once thought that wordsmithing on hold messages would be a snap. After years of experience in the phone on hold industry, I can tell you that creating effective Messages on Hold audio presents its own unique challenges. Smart marketing calls for collaboration with professionals, so let's work together to "make the wait great"!