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Tips for Better On Hold Messages

By Scott Greggory, VP, Creative Services at Madison Avenue Marketing Group (used by permission)

1) You’re communicating with one person. On Hold Messaging may be heard by an audience of hundreds of callers at any given moment, but because each person listens “privately” with his own phone - pressed against his own ear – On Hold Messaging can maintain an intimate, one-on-one feel. For that reason, the audience should not be addressed in the plural (Examples: “Everybody” and ”All of you,” etc.)

2) Your copy will be heard, not read. Try to keep it as conversational as possible while still following the rules of good grammar.

3) Tease your callers. Don’t give them all the facts. Provide enough information to pique their interest, then include a specific call to action: “Ask for Tom when we return”…or “Visit the New Products page of our website right now to learn more.” Effective On Hold Messaging gets a conversation started.

4) Watch your language! If your callers don’t use your company or industry jargon, don’t use it in your on hold messaging, or any of your other marketing copy, for that matter. Write to communicate, not to impress.

5) Focus on the needs and interests of your target audience. Resist any temptation to brag about your company. Instead, help your customers and prospects to see how your products and services can help them meet their goals or solve their problems. Also, use caller-focused pronouns (you and your) and avoid too many first person pronouns (I and we).

6) Consider the amount of time your average caller spends on hold. If it’s 15 seconds, don’t write 60-second messages. Even if you have long hold times, keep your copy concise. The shorter the message, the easier it'll be for your callers to understand, retain, and take the action your messages should ask them to take.

7) On hold messaging is typically an endless loop of copy and music. Callers can be placed on hold at any point in that audio loop. There is no perceived beginning, middle or end, so you can never be guaranteed that callers will always hear the “first" message. If there is content that you want most callers to hear, write several versions of the message and spread them evenly throughout your script.

8) Avoid negatives. Don't use phrases such as “Thank you for holding” or “Thank you for waiting.” The words “holding” and “waiting” only reinforce the negative aspect of being on hold. Instead, use positive phrases, such as “We’re glad you’ve called today” or “We appreciate your call.”

9) Don’t apologize for placing callers on hold. A phrase such as “We’re sorry to make you hold” not only reinforces a negative, but creates the sense that your company has made a mistake. When you use your copy to create a helpful, informative, entertaining or otherwise valuable experience for your callers on hold, you will have no reason to apologize.