Generic ‘please hold’ messages are perceived as a major irritant for customers, but research has found people in the Midwest actually feel more valued if they hear customised voice and music messages while on hold.

The survey of 2,234 American consumers, conducted by audio branding specialist PH Media Group, discovered 64 per cent of Midwestern customers feel more valued if they hear voice and music, instead of alternatives such as a dial tone, beeps or even silence.

Furthermore, 65 percent consider a business to be more professional if tailored messages are played over the telephone system.

“On-hold marketing has regularly attracted negative publicity due to its association with horror stories about customers being left waiting for long periods of time, listening to generic automated messages,” said Mark Williamson, Sales and Marketing Director at PH Media Group.

“But the key word there is ‘generic’. Customers do not want to feel as if messages they hear on hold are simple placeholders designed to placate and pacify them – it reflects badly on the company’s brand.

“Implementing tailored voice and music which corresponds to the existing values of the business conveys a more professional image. It also helps to engage and entertain both existing and potential customers, speaking to them on a more relevant and personal level.”

Respondents in the South were the most receptive to on-hold marketing, with 67 per cent of respondents claiming to prefer bespoke messages to other alternatives. They were closely followed by those in the Midwest and West (64 per cent).

Those in the Northeast were the least enthusiastic but even there, 62 per cent said they preferred to hear messaging.

The research also found there is a fairly even split between generations across the USA when it comes to responding to on-hold marketing messages.

Sixty-eight per cent of 45 to 54-year-olds and 65 per cent of 55 to 64-year-olds believe a company sounds more professional after hearing customised voice and music, compared to 64 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds.

“These results show that regardless of their age, most people are receptive to on-hold marketing messages,” added Williamson.

“The implications of implementing bespoke voice and music are evident. If done well, it is clear that it can help to strengthen a company’s image and reinforce professionalism, instead of acting as an annoyance.”

Staff report