You’ve decided to take care of the “hold button problem”–you know, that silence or fuzzy radio that callers endure while waiting for someone to come back on the line. Now you need to choose a music on hold provider. Here are 7 quick tips–things to watch out for when shopping messages on hold.
1. CONTRACT OR NO CONTRACT?
There are services with ongoing contract payments and there are “buyout” message-on-hold providers. If you want to own your equipment and messages, mention this up front. If you simply want to pay a monthly fee for complete service (equipment, message changes, scripting) then remember that there will be a time limit on the use of the messages. At the end of the contract you have silence on hold once again.
You may look at your messaging on hold as a “utility” or ongoing service, so you’re thinking of paying a simple monthly fee (like you would your cable tv bill). That can be accomplished, but look carefully at what you’re getting. Ask about whether the entire audio production can be changed, or whether just a few paragraphs can be altered. Can you change the music at any time?
We often hear, “I paid every month and never changed my message”. Buyers who feel trapped by a monthly contract are looking for a pay-once play-forever model. A buyout means you may play the message on hold as long as you like, with no obligation to buy again. If you purchase 4 complete productions, for example, you can use them in 12 months, 20 months, 36 months or more.
2. WHAT IS A MESSAGE?
Some companies call a short paragraph a “message” or “commercial”, then they say you’ll get 8 messages. This means you get one on hold production containing 8 paragraphs of copy. Often a “message” refers to a self-contained 4-minute production that will loop continuously. Ask about word count. How many words will I get in my script? How many unique scripts?
Questions To Ask
- Are we talking about a 4-minute message?
- What is the word-count?
- How many unique 4-minute messages will I get?
3. DO YOU NEED AN EXTERNAL MUSIC ON HOLD PLAYER?
First, do you need equipment? If you have had music-on-hold on your current phone system, state this to your prospective supplier; it may keep you from paying for unnecessary equipment.
Your phone system may allow messages to be entered into an internal memory, in which case you may not need any equipment at all. Most VOIP off-site or “hosted” systems allow you to upload a file to the system.
2-4 Line Ordinary Phones
You might have a 2 or 4 line phone you purchased at an office supply store. These types of phones cannot play music on hold without the help of a special adapter that allows music to be piped into the phone line.
Avoid Consumer Grade Players
We recommend against the use a consumer-grade audio player in place of a professional message on hold player. Lithium batteries should never be plugged in day after day. The idea of a message on hold player is that it repeats 24/7 so any time a caller is placed on hold, your message will play.
MARKETING, GREETINGS OR JUST MUSIC?
Consider who is calling. If you are doing business on the phone, then a marketing message may be ideal. You’ve got a captive audience of potential buyers at a critical moment. They’re already connecting with you, so phone on hold is a great time to insert your current specials, announcements, image enhancers, etc.
A mostly-music message can include a few short spoken statemetns. For decades, callers have been hearing “thank you for calling” or generic messages on hold. These are predictable, but friendly statements that can add a human voice to the waiting-on-hold experience. Consider a custom greeting that includes your company name, to make the message more personal.
Knowing how long your hold times are, and who is calling will help determine what content is appropriate. Companies with callers that are “internal” or “departmental” won’t need a marketing message, so just music will do. Extremely long hold times may call for mostly or all music.
HOW OFTEN WILL YOU CHANGE YOUR MESSAGE?
If you do go with a marketing message, then you will want to consider keeping it fresh over time. The on-hold message industry calls message changes “updates”. If you have a seasonal business, or if you hold monthly webinars, events and shows, you should ask for pricing on a package of custom hold messages. You may also find a plan that allows unlimited message changes over the course of a year. Easy On Hold offers an “Anytime Plan” for a flat annual fee. This can reduce the per-production cost considerably. You may be interested in a smaller package of 2 or 4 unique productions. Easy On Hold offers packages of 2 to 4 on-hold productions that “roll over” (like unused cell phone minutes that never expire).
BEWARE OF UNNECESSARY INSTALLATION AND SETUP FEES
Chances are, you can plug the message on hold equipment in yourself. If you have never had music on hold playing on your phone system, you can place a call to your system installer and ask about the MOH INPUT, which may be as easy as plugging in one cord. Installation may be best handled by your I.T. department, your phone installer or an outsourced technician.
REQUEST A CUSTOM DEMO
Typically, message on hold providers will play an audio sample of messages on hold they’ve produced for other businesses. That’s fine, but it doesn’t really show you what they’ll do for you. Will you get the same voiceover/announcer, script quality, production quality, etc. as the sample? The only way to know for sure is to discuss your business with a music on hold producer. Let them take a couple of days to write up a short script–about your business. (Free music message on hold demo.) Listen to the voiceover for your actual production. Listen to how the music works with the voice. You don’t need to be completely satisfied, as the script can be modified, the music can be changed, etc., but the demo should tell you if the producer “gets” your business. Also, consider how the production process was handled. Were deadlines met? Did the script speak to the caller, or was it all fluff and corporate-speak? Don’t let the script writer get away with using a boring template.