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Making On-Hold a Positive Caller Experience

Image of a businessman smiling while on the phoneMusic on hold and voice over needs to be mixed correctly, otherwise it can become needlessly irritating. It never ceases to amaze me that some large companies get this so wrong.

I have just been on hold for about 20 minutes and as a producer of on-hold audio packages I am very aware of the issues. My experience today with a very large mobile phone company highlights some dos and don’ts for companies considering a custom on-hold package.


I have just listened to a variety of male and female IVR voice prompts all at different volume levels. I believe the voice-over should be the same person throughout the IVR prompts. The only exception to this is during the marketing messages in the on-hold section. However, there is no excuse for the on hold voice to change in volume from message to message.

Don’t stop the music

I strongly believe that the voice-over during an on-hold section should be mixed with the music. My on hold experience today had me listening to 10 seconds of music before a voice-over thanked me for continuing to hold. At each stage, the music stopped playing while the voice thanked me for holding.

Two things are wrong here...

Firstly, the music should duck, or lower in volume during the voice-over message. Stopping the music lulls the caller into a false sense of security. Every time the music stops you think you are through… then you realise you aren’t!

Secondly, don’t thank the caller every 10 seconds for holding. By all means thank them periodically, but it is always best to mix in a variety of voice-over elements to engage the caller. Product or service related tips or facts, anything other than the same sentence over and over.
The spacing of these messages depends on the speed of the music on hold and the length of the voice-over message. As a producer of on-hold packages, I find it is best to determine the spacing of on hold messages based on how it feels and how it fits with the music bed.


The on-hold section can be an ideal advertising and communication channel for you, sending marketing messages directly to your target market. Tell them about those little known services, latest deals, and practical information.

Make your on-hold a positive caller experience. It requires a little forethought but will make a huge difference to your callers.

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