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BizReport : Trends & Ideas : December 15, 2014

Popular music, not the sound of silence, keeps callers on hold longer

If you want to keep people on hold when calling your customer service or sales representatives, play them something they will know, suggests new research by ICM for soh.

by Helen Leggatt

It is not just the stores that are busy with long queues - so are call centers. Whether consumers are calling sales or customer service lines, you want to be sure they don't abandon the call and shop elsewhere or leave with a bad taste in their mouth.

Or, in this case, a bad tune in their ear.

ICM's research for soh found that keeping callers on hold for as long as possible can be helped by playing them tunes they like. In a survey of over 2,000 consumers opinions were sought on what type of music would make them put down the phone and the types that would keep them in the queue.

Out of a range of non-message options, including "well-known popular music from the last year", "well-known popular music from any period", "well-known classical music", "music from unknown artists", "silence" and "telephone system music", the option that was most preferred was "well-known popular music from any period". That type would not only make 11% of consumers wait longer but make their wait more acceptable.

"Organisations should try to make any wait as good as it can be - it makes good business sense too," says Rob Smale, Professional Services Director at soh. "An experience that's well thought through means callers are less disgruntled when they do get through, something that may help them to keep their customers. For sales lines it may also mean less lost revenue as fewer callers will hang up before they speak with someone."

The survey found that what consumers do not want to hear, and what will most likely make them hang up, is "silence" - top of the list with 49% - and "telephone system music", the Muzak that often comes free with phone systems (28%).


However, as Smale stresses, a lot of thought needs to be put into which track is appropriate for the call including taking into account the customers' reasons for calling, potential demographics, wait times and brand compatibility. soh use a music psychologist to help choose the most appropriate tracks.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: call center, customer service, music, telephone

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