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What Your Hold Music Says About Your Company [Friday Five]

Ring Central Blog


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Jun 27, 2014

hold music Does this sound familiar? Something of the utmost time sensitivity forces you to call customer service. Your internet is down; your Vitamix won’t blend celery; the tiny sweater you bought for your pet rock arrived in the wrong shade of fuchsia. You dial the number and a robot voice sounds on the other end, asking that you hold for ten minutes. That’s fine by you. You’re not angry.

Then the on-hold music comes on.

Swirls of reverby piano, synthesized flutes, and half-awake jazz drumming trespass your senses. You can’t pull the phone away from your ear; someone could pick up at any time. You were frustrated before. Now you feel like throwing your phone in the Vitamix.

Bad music-on-hold isn’t just an issue of aesthetics. It’s the soundtrack to a customer’s experience with the company; what’s playing forms a subconscious association with your brand. Shoddy customer service is one thing. Blast someone in the ear with Kenny G for thirty minutes, the mere mention of your company’s name will probably throw the customer into a Hulk-like rage.

With that in mind, I present a list of five on-hold music genres, and what they say about your company. It’s a small detail that could prevent a lot of customers from hanging up the phone on your business.

1) Genre: Muzak/Smooth Jazz

Other Contexts Found: Elevators, infomercials.

What it says about your company: This is the most common type of music you’ll hear while on hold. It’s been the butt of millions of jokes. If your company is using easy-listening to inspire confidence in your customers, you’re doing the exact opposite. You run the risk of permanently putting your customer to sleep. If you’re running Muzak or smooth jazz through your phones, ditch it immediately: how are you supposed to appear cutting edge if your music evokes an aural cobweb?

2) Genre: Free Jazz/Fusion

Other Contexts Found: Coffee shops, jazz critic conventions.

What it says about your company: There are actually a number of advantages to using the black sheep of the jazz family. Free jazz is dissonant and alarming, but it still sounds like jazz. Less adventurous customers will think there’s something wrong with the phone, but they’ll still be mollified by the sounds of bop. Hip, young potential investors will know the score, and probably be wowed by your nonchalant use of John Cage.

3) Genre: Thrash Metal

Other Contexts Found: Loud concerts, Dungeons & Dragons parties.

What it says about your company: Unless your business sells model dragon-slaying swords or wholesale black Capri’s, you’ll want to avoid using Slayer or Megadeth for your music-on-hold. Most customers don’t want more angst while they wait.

4) Genre: Indie Rock

Other Contexts Found: Liberal arts freshman dorm rooms, Portland.

What it is says about your company: Indie rock is trendy and evokes an inquisitive nature; consumers will assume your business is tapped into the youth market. The disadvantage is that indie rock is the flagship genre of cappuccino-sipping indifference, so be careful about your customer service representatives sounding too casual.

5) Genre: Instrumental Hip-Hop

Other Contexts Found: Clubs, hip-hop shows with a missing MC.

What it says about your company: Instrumental hip-hop may be the most ideal song to play for businesses of all stripes. There’s no rapping to offend the faint of heart, the beats are in a natural 4/4, and most DJ music can be pretty soothing. If your company uses instrumental hip-hop for music-on-hold, it says you’re hip, innovative, but not too aggressive. Plus, customers can freestyle over the beats while they wait.

And now, RingCentral Office customers can choose their own music, or even messages, they wish to play when customers call them directly! Check it out here, and learn how you can keep callers informed and entertained with messages and music while they hold.

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