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VOIP Telephone Messages On Hold: Here's the Scoop

diagram describes VOIP phone system setup for ON site and OFF site.

The term VOIP (voice over internet protocol) is used in a variety of situations. We use the term "hosted PBX" to describe an off-site service whereby your phone system does not reside at your site. You have phones (extensions), but no central control box or brain in your phone room.

The names for the "off-site" service vary, including:

  • Hosted IP
  • Virtual PBX
  • Cloud-based
  • VOIP enabled
  • Hosted VOIP and so on.

When you hear these terms, you're hearing about a phone system that receives messages on hold via an "upload" through a web interface.

Vendors in this category include:

  • Phonality
  • Virtual PBX
  • Ring Central
  • Access Direct
  • 8 by 8
  • Grasshopper
  • TDS Metrocom and many more.

On hold messaging limitations on VOIP phone systems

Internet-based phone systems offer many features, but the music on hold feature typically falls short.

  • Your messaging on hold service cannot load your messages for you unless given your phone system passwords.
  • You must take the time and effort to learn how to change your messages and upload them yourself, a hands-on, manual application.
  • Most hosted PBX systems do not allow changing of the messages on a schedule (if you don't do it manually, it doesn't get done).
  • Most virtual PBX systems play the on-hold message from the beginning each time the call is placed on hold, meaning only the beginning of your complete hold message will ever be heard.

Key Questions to ask your VOIP phone service provider

1. May I use my own music on hold equipment here at my business?

Changing messages is much easier when using a music on hold device that resides at your business site. Easy On Hold's Anytime Plan includes a message on hold player that can schedule announcements and change audio content remotely, from our studios, so you will never need to invest time changing your on hold messages. Such messages-on-hold players are usually not compatible with VOIP "cloud-based" phone systems.

2. Does the message on hold play from the beginning each time the hold button is depressed?

Callers may complain if they hear the exact same piece of audio each and every time the hold button is pressed. By allowing the caller to join a message on hold production in-progress, the caller will hear a wider variety of content, rather than the same exact messaging and music each time the call is placed on hold.

3. What audio file format is required to upload to the music on hold function of my VOIP system?

There are many different audio file formats in use. Easy On Hold has experience with audio file preparation for VOIP phone systems. We will be glad to contact your provider to get the correct specifications.

4. Can I schedule certain on hold message announcements to play on various days automatically, or times of the day, on a schedule?

Easy On Hold's message on hold player (included at no cost with the Anytime Plan) will schedule announcements days, weeks and months in advance, and play certain announcements on certain days, or even specific times of the day.

Work-arounds to improve the VOIP on hold experience

One work-around is to have short voiced announcements on hold that you change weekly (if you have time). Our script writers and studio engineers have had success with creating four one-minute productions you can manually change over time, rather than one longer on hold production. Talk to us.

Other options

Internet and phone system providers are pushing hosted PBX (VOIP phone/off-site cloud based) systems. Getting locked in to an off-site system is not your only option. Consider a Hybrid PBX system that you can use on-site. An article from CNet covers several options.

Easy On Hold is not responsible for the performance, installation or operation of equipment we do not sell. Articles about equipment are for educational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of any make or brand. Easy On Hold makes no claims or warranties regarding telephone equipment of any kind.