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Appropriate Music for Callers 'On Hold'? 339

Posted by Cliff
from the if-you-have-to-wait-you-may-as-well-groove dept.
RiBread asks: "I work at a startup, and as such wear many hats. Right now I'm trying to make sure our phone system is useful. One of everyone's biggest complaints is the cheesy music that plays when someone calls in and is put on hold. The stunning MIDI rendition of 'Home on the Range' they hear vies only with the ice cream truck and 'It's a Small World' for its ability to infuriate. I found out we can hook up a CD player to the phone system to alleviate this, but the real question is now: what do we want to play? What's the best 'on hold' music you've heard? (comments with links to samples of music will be most appreciated)"
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Appropriate Music for Callers 'On Hold'?

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  • Put actual music on there, and change it. Not stuff that only appeals to a small audience - stuff lots of people like. Blue Man Group, Beatles, ABBA ... or whatever. Licensing might be an issue; I don't know. But don't put on Ride of the Valkries and Beethovens 9th 300 kajillion times in a row.
    • Re:Variety (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Flexagon (740643) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @02:45AM (#9515709)

      And why stop at a fixed playlist? This has so many {exciting,absurd} possibilities. 1) Offer menu choices. 2) If you've got caller ID, remember the setting for that customer's next call. 3) Think of things that would work well on an open speakerphone that the caller's probably using in a cube.

      As for selections, sure, you could go with generic popular music, but, particularly if there are selectable options, I'd try for more things at the absurd/fun/useful end of the scale, like:

      • Raymond Scott, say, Powerhouse.
      • Teletypes, like an old newsroom.
      • A scripted, busy call center with crazy discussions going on. You and a few cohorts could do this yourselves, avoiding licensing issues, and making it a tongue-in-cheek version of your company's business. Your company would have to have the right culture for this.
      • A news feed.
      • The Jeopardy final question theme, if your call answering statistics are good enough.
      • Sound effects: waves crashing, coffee percolating, someone typing very rapidly (so the caller sounds busy to people in the neighboring cubes), cars racing.
      • Tips of the day for your product or service.

      That all said, nothing is more annoying, once there is interesting hold conent, than to have it interrupted every 15 seconds reminding the caller that "Your call is important to us, stay on the line to keep your position, blah, blah.". Say that at most once up-front and never again.

      • best yet... (Score:3, Informative)

        by RMH101 (636144)
        ...some UK companies pipe live radio stations like Radio 1 to their hold music. you'd need to licence it, but it's always new, doesn't get stale and people *might* not mind listening to it.
      • 3com tech support (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Webmoth (75878)
        Several years ago, I had occasion to call 3com's tech support. After wading thru several layers of menus, the last option was what kind of on-hold music I wanted to listen to. Something like "Press 1 for jazz, press 2 for classical, press 3 for country, etc."

        The worst part about it was that the one time I get to choose my on-hold music, the wait time was less than a minute.
      • Live DJ (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Webmoth (75878) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @11:55AM (#9518956) Homepage
        I don't know if they still do, but Symantec used to have a live DJ running the on-hold music, along with "traffic reports" saying how many people were on hold, and what the average wait time is.
    • Re:Variety (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mattcelt (454751) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @08:57AM (#9516985)
      You're welcome to use my solo piano album [moreilly.com], license-free. It is currently used at several other places as on-hold music, and some people actually ask to be put on hold to hear it from time to time!

      There are twelve tracks, more than enough music to handle most on-hold situations without repitition.

      All I ask is that you give me credit if anyone asks, and point them to my site. Oh, and please let me know if you use it - I like to know!

      Email me privately if you want more information.

      Mattcelt
  • by FattMattP (86246) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @12:00AM (#9514978) Homepage
    Classical music is good, but don't forget about copyrights. Although the music itself may be in the public domain the performance may not be.
    • I don't see how playing music on hold is any different than playing it in your waiting room. I know entertainment establishments have to have a license to play music from the major labels, but I don't think this applies to any and every business.
      • by bakes (87194)
        It might or might not be considered different. In Australia, you need a license from APRA in either case.

        You can't even play a radio (where fees are already paid by the radio station for each song) in the waiting room without a license. If you have a radio playing at your desk, or in a workshop, that's ok - as long as no customers can hear it.

        They have some stupid rules.
      • by Seumas (6865) * on Thursday June 24, 2004 @02:18AM (#9515610)
        Yes, you need to license your hold music in America.

        BMI Records on Music On Hold [bmi.com]


        Although, most people buy tapes and CDs thinking they are now their property, there is a distinction in the law between owning a copy of the CD and owning the songs on the CD. There is also a difference between a private performance of copyrighted music and a public performance. Most people recognize that purchasing a CD doesn't give them the right to make copies of it to give or sell to others. The record company and music publishers retain those rights. Similarly, the music on the CDs and tapes still belongs to the songwriter, composer or music publisher of the work. When you buy a tape or CD the purchase price covers only your private listening use, similar to the "home" use of "home" videos. Once you decide to play these tapes or CDs in your business, it becomes a public performance.

        Songwriters, composers, and music publishers have the exclusive right of public performance of their musical works under the U.S. copyright law. Therefore, any public performance requires permission from the copyright owner - or BMI - if it is BMI-affiliated music. With a BMI Music Performance Agreement, you can publicly perform all BMI-affiliated music.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Once you put them on hold, they'll never make the mistake of calling again.
    • > Once you put them on hold, they'll never make the mistake of calling again.

      Oops! I did it again!

      I mean... yeah... you can shoot me now.
  • Bebop (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jbrandon (603700) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @12:01AM (#9514989)
    I heard Thelonious Monk while on hold for AT&T last week.

    Sweetness.
    • Re:Bebop (Score:2, Interesting)

      by saden1 (581102)
      You can't go wrong with Bryan Adams, Sting, and Lionel Richie. It's universal music.
      • Universally hated maybe. Particularly in the case of Bryan Adams.

        Everything I do, I do it to try and avoid that annoying song from that crappy Robin Hood film.

    • Re:Bebop (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MaxwellStreet (148915)
      We used to play one CD, over and over, back in my dotcom days.

      Miles Davis - Birth of the Cool.

      It brought us constant compliments - it's quite possibly the perfect on-hold music. (Sorry Miles!)

  • I'd try (Score:4, Funny)

    by bob_dinosaur (544930) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @12:02AM (#9515000)
    Rage Against the Machine - Bullet in the Head.

    It perfectly describes my attitude to being on hold.
    • One place where I worked they had Aphex Twin's "I want your soul" as their music of choice. It seriously lowered the amount of people who actually waited in line, which ment we got time to work in stead of answering calls ;)
  • why not an iPod? 10000 songs, just put it on repeat and shuffle, and off you go.

    On a side note- muzak is intended to be calming for everyone. Instead it's annoying. All other music is written for a specific audience, so no matter what you play, someone won't like it. i say load the iPod with some of everything.
  • Well, I'd check out the legal aspects of using commercially produced music like that... but that said, you want something that's relaxing but crisp, no vocals (or minimal)... possibly approachable jazz/swing?

    Ever heard of Pink Martini? Some of their songs would be the perfect hold music. No specific genre (but vaguely retro), non-threatening to most.
  • by m000 (187652) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @12:06AM (#9515017)
    ...while I do real work. I didn't call to listen to music, it just serves as a reminder that you haven't hung up on me.
    • Agreed! And, as other people have mentioned, don't cut in just to say I'm still on hold. I know I'm on hold, thanks - if I wasn't the music would stop.

      Other posters have mentioned the "Thank you for waiting" messages an annoying reminder that they're on hold, but it's more than that - at least for me. Every time I hear the music stop, I have to stop what I'm doing and ask myself: is *this* is my lucky moment? Will I finally get to talk to someone? My hopes rise - I could be at the front of the line at last

  • I personally really enjoy it when I call up some place, and their hold music is the local public radio station. I think it's great to hear that little bit of wherever the end-point of your call is. Granted, this doesn't work for huge companies, but when I call a smallish / mediumish place, it's a nice treat.
    • by Kris_J (10111) *
      No. When there's talk on the radio you can't easily tell the difference between the chatter and the person you're waiting to pickup the phone, frequency -wise. It forces you to listen.
  • by hashinclude (192717) <slashdot AT hashinclude DOT com> on Thursday June 24, 2004 @12:14AM (#9515058) Homepage
    The purpose of call-hold music is to indicate that you have not hung up. So why not send soft beeps, once in a while, so that

    (a) the exchange does not terminate the call thinking that there is no activity

    (b) the listener doesnt get pissed off listening to some (great?) music played over a crap 3KHz bandwidth phone line
    • Because that's worse. It's all over PBXen in Canada and it pisses me off. The first time it happens to you, you'll think it's your Call Waiting going off.
    • by jtheory (626492) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @10:19AM (#9517796) Homepage Journal
      It doesn't have to be music -- but beeps? That could easily confuse a caller into thinking there was some error in the system.

      The hold music used by the Macaroni Grill (Italian restaurant chain) -- and what they play in the bathrooms in the restaurants -- is an interesting alternative; it's a "learn Italian" CD, teaching you common phrases in Italian.

      You might think it'd be annoying... but the voices are soothing (and Italian in general is a very musical language), there's some subtle music in the background, and it really worked for me.

      I'm not sure what an equivalent would be for tech support, though... listening to some adenoidal geek stuttering through technical term definitions somehow wouldn't be the same.
  • for your business. I'd suggest a mix of open-source or musician-posted streaming audio [webjay.org] direct off the internet.

    That, or some Mid-Cretaceous Dinosaur rockers like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Doors - would really let your customers know that your software's inspired by organic product.
  • by Laxitive (10360) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @12:22AM (#9515104) Journal
    For a commercial music, you want to try to offend as few people as possible, while still playing interesting music that people won't mind listening to. Generally you want it to be instrumental, apolitical, and good.

    You don't want to be playing The Clash or blaring Radiohead out to the world.

    Downtempo electronica and acid jazz fit that bill perfectly. They have a certain amount of respectability because they generally sample jazz and mix it with electronic beats and modulations to produce very "chill out" music. It's not hard on the ears, it's not loud. It's quiet and relaxing, and still good. The nice thing is, there's a lot of it that is purely instrumental. No annoying vocals to deal with, so you have to neither risk alienating people with controversial vocals, nor dumb down vocals to the point where they are stupefyingly trite and banal.

    For concrete suggestions, try the following:
    Suzuki by Tosca
    Bricolage by Amon Tobin

    Another choice you have is to play straight up good Jazz. Put on some Coltrane or Miles Davis or Herbie Hancock or something. There's no fucking way anybody can be offended by that music. It's all instrumental, and it's all rock solid.

    Jazz and jazz-based electronica seem to be a perfect fit for what you're looking for in terms of: apolitical, instrumental, and good.

    -Laxitive
  • I kid you not, by the time your reps pick up the phone your callers will be spurting blood from their nipples as they spasm incontrollably and chant demonic verses along the lines of "Du Hast Mich" in hair-raising, spine splitting gothic German.

    Then again if this is not a tech support line, please disregard. Might want to think about doing the Engelbert Humperdinck thang.

    • I don't know, I don't think using a staple of Holleywood soundtracks like Rammstein will really get people to spurt blood. A bit of KMFDM might make them leave, but a healthy dose of Mindless Self Indulgence would probably get some lawsuits. There's no such thing as bad press, right?
      • I agree on the MSI thing. Saw them live when they came to Jersey. Had milk poured on me then watched the singer pee into a cup and pour it on a group in the crowd (thankfully not me) as his finale...
  • If you can change the way hold works and give them a separate line plug them into HAL. It will give them the option of voice command over their music. All you need is a PC with a good voice modem and HAL (one pc per line).
    http://www.automatedliving.com/products_dm c.shtml
  • As long as there's absolutely no speech in what you pipe down the line, it can be any genre. I don't want to listen to your music, but I do want to listen for when your staff member answers my call.

    If you're specifically asking about genres, I recommend ambient electronica and/or classical, in that order.

  • Use your competitors adverts. It means that there is an incentive to get people off those dumb arse holding queues.
  • Apple (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TALlama (462873)
    For a long time, Apple used to play surf rock. Beach Boys, Ventures, etc. Definitely different; made waiting much nicer.
  • I suggest the Bunny Hop, and other such music. Children's songs like "I'm a Little Teapot," or "Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes (Knees & Toes)." Oh yeah, great stuff. "Pop Goes the Weasel," "The Hokey Pokey." Classics all, and guaranteed to drive most sane adults totally bonkers. Then when they get annoyed and hang up, you don't have to talk to them!
    • IIRC 30 second samples are legal under fair use (though I'm not sure about public performance)... The chorus of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" would get callers dropping in less than 5 minutes.
  • How much do you like your job ?
  • ETA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by frantzdb (22281) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @12:43AM (#9515194) Homepage
    Start with an ETA every minute or so. There's nothing worse than "your call is important to us, we'll be with you shortly" every thirty seconds for tens of minutes.

    After that, the minimalist in me says just play enough white noise to make it clear that the line isn't dead.
    • Re:ETA (Score:4, Informative)

      by brc007 (603602) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @02:38AM (#9515676)
      I assume by "ETA" you mean the estimated time until their call will be answered. That is nice, but most phone systems do not support that. The ones that do usually require an additional license to enable that module.

      If you haven't heard of it check out the Asterisk PBX [asterisk.org]. It's GPL licensed and comes with ETA announcements built in :).
      It supports VoIP (SIP protocol among others) and Analog phones, T1's, etc.

      Check out the 2 port SIPura ATA [atacomm.com] to interface with 2 FXS ports which allow you to interface with normal Analog phones, or the
      SIPura 3000 [atacomm.com] with two FXS ports and one FXO port which allows you to interface with a POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) line from the telco.

      Stop by and say hello in #asterisk on the irc.freenode.org IRC network (Sorry you've gotta register your nick with nickserv to get in...we've had huge problems with spambots :\) /nickserv help register

      /nickserv register mypassword

      /nickserv identify mypassword

      /join #asterisk


      Hopefully these spambots will go away eventually.

  • by gehrehmee (16338) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @12:46AM (#9515214) Homepage
    In this day and age, I'm really genuinely surprised at how common being on hold is. Let the customer input their phone number, leave a message, or whatever, and get the next available person to just call them. The customer doesn't have to hold a phone to their head for an hour. They don't have to tie up their phone line. They can listen to whatever music they want, watch TV, make food, or pretty much do whatever it was they were doing before they had to call you.
    • For large companies, this wouldn't be great (I get a feeling of "they haven't forgotten me" when I'm on hold, even though I hate waiting like that), they'd worry about missing the call/being on the phone, etc. For a startup like this guy, it'd be great.
    • Money. They're already paying so you can call them toll-free. If they have to call you back, that costs them still more money.
    • by mcowger (456754) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @01:34AM (#9515454)
      An interesting variant of that for people who dont do well punching a phone number into a computer is the following (which I know that at least one company, SpectraLogic, does).

      You call the support line, and you wait on hold a max of about 1 minute. A real human answers the phone, and he/she takes your name, number, brief problem description (this is a tech support line) down and you hang up. The issue is assigned to arep, who calls you back when they are ready. Its like the OP's system, but you get to talk to a real person, and hear an ETA, or give them 2 contacts numbers, etc, because a human answers. Works really well for me.
    • actually i did this with ticketmaster the last time i was on hold for never getting my concert tickets in the mail.

      just remember not to take a shower when you're waiting for them to call...
    • I have to say that'd be rather nice.
      It's a pain to be on-hold, unable to listen to music, put the TV up loud, or even go to the toilet.

      Certainly for 0800 (UK freephone - customer doesn't pay) numbers, where I can only assume that it's the company who has to pay for 100+ people stuck on the other end. They'd be bound to save money, and possibly piss the customers off less.

      Tiggs
    • I expect it's because most people won't leave their name and number.

      I know it doesn't make sense, but I think it's still true...

    • Actually, I never choose this option when it is offered. The thing this - when I call, even if I'm on hold for ages, I'm still calling at my convenience. If I ask them to call me back, then they are calling me back at their convenience.

      Here is the problem with this: I know when I call that I might be on hold for awhile, so I sit in the front of the computer, read slashdot, what-have-you, and I don't really notice I'm on hold. Plus, I know that within the next 30 minutes I should be connected. But, if t
    • by jamesh (87723) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @09:06AM (#9517049)
      CLID should mean they don't even need to leave a number... maybe 'Press 1 to have someone call you back on the number you are calling from, Press 2 to have someone call you back on another number, Press 3 to send someone around to tie you to a bed and tickle your privates with a feather'.

      If you do have to put people on hold, one thing i'd really like to see on is some indication of call progression, eg 'You are currently position 7 in our queue. Given our current call rate your call will be answered in 10 minutes'. That way I can make a decision on if I want to hang around or maybe call back later. Market research must indicate that this doesn't encourage people to stay on hold though as I have never encountered it.

      To actually go on topic, if you have to put customers on hold, give them something useful to listen to, something to make their time on hold not a complete waste of time. Some ideas I can think of are:
      . Word definitions. Improve the vocabulary of your customers.
      . Fun Facts.
      . Movie reviews.
      . Book reviews.
      . TV guide (only useful if most callers are local)

      Finally, depending on your phone system, it would be cool if customers could 'change the channel', or at least turn off the on hold noise if they do as I do and call such numbers on a speaker phone while I'm doing other things. In that case I would prefer silence.
  • If you hate your customers, play either the Jeopardy theme or Hanson's MMMBop. Actually, some time ago, there was a site that had corporate anthems for download -- perhaps some of those would be appropriate...
  • take "on the road again" and s/road/phone/ and loop it over and over. people will never get tired of that one.
  • by rcpitt (711863) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @01:09AM (#9515333) Homepage Journal
    Bore them so they hang up - Bolero, on a loop

    Get them humming, at least for a time - Abba

    Entertain them for a half hour (or more) on hold - radio comedy shows from the 40's and 50's

    Remind them of a time before computers - 101 strings playing "hits" of the 60's and 70's

    Get them to forget they're on hold if they're over age 40 - up-tempo orchestral classics - Brahms, Beethoven, Thaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussagorsky, etc.

    But whatever you play, run it through an audio compressor so the dynamic range is minimal - and then check the actual volume from another phone so you neither blast them out nor make them strain to hear.

  • Use it as a sales opportunity. I know that this will almost be counted as spam, but your callers are sitting on hold, you have the opportunity to promote your services. Have some background music and a comfortable voice explaining some of the services you provide that might be useful to the callers on hold.

    Playing the radio can be bad, while waiting on hold, what if they hear an ad for a competitor?

    They will judge your company by what music they hear. Theres a reflex ad going on at the moment where a boar

    • The licensing issue can be a real pain at times.
      I'm not talking from a money-saving business point of view. I'm talking from the PoV of the poor sod suck the other side of the hold-music when it's some royalty-free (but Godawful) music.

      I don't care about copyright and licensing. If I'm stuck on the other end of the phone (and often the few times I do phone places it's for tech-support during a mass-outage - hence long waiting periods) then if I'm forced to hear something pumped into my ear, I'd rather it


  • How about just answering the phone?

    Hold music is great for when there's a sudden surprise jump in the number of calls, but it seems to be common practice just to make the customer give up and leave from boredom. Very few calls seem to be answered quickly these days.

    I guess it cuts down on the number of complaints (that get through).

    But I'm a paying (or potential) customer. Telling me my time isn't important to you is a great way to lose my custom.

    - MugginsM
  • Hey! Isn't this "slashdot"?
    Doesn't _anyone_ here play videogames?
    Just record all the K.K. Songs from Animal Crossing, and shuffle their order.
    Not only would the customers be completely tripped out, they couldn't be offended by the music or the lyrics, and they'd certainly know when it ended.

  • morse code (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mamba-mamba (445365) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @01:30AM (#9515430)
    You should play morse code training materials.

    <morse code> di-dah
    <Eisenhower era voice> "A"

    di-dah "A"
    di-dah "A"

    dah-di-di-di "B"
    dah-di-di-di "B"
    dah-di-di-di "B"

    Etc.

    MM
    --
  • by Lenolium (110977) <rawb@kill[ ]net ['-9.' in gap]> on Thursday June 24, 2004 @01:32AM (#9515438) Homepage
    There were some particularly weird "things" on XMission (a local and awesome ISP) [xmission.com]'s hold music
    When I worked there, there were two songs that were the techs favorites. One of them was something like six minutes of dogs barking. The users really hated it, it really rubbed all of them the wrong way. Rubbed them the wrong way so much that you could always tell when it had just finished playing and someone had to sit through all of it. Even though there were thousands of songs in the playlist (mostly trance), this one got a lot of attention and was removed.
    The song that people liked to hear the most was "C is for cookie" by the cookie monster. Wouldn't matter if they had just been sitting on hold for three days and the DSL line had surged out of control and killed both of their parents, anyone after listening to that was in a pretty happy mood by the time they got to you. I think that one is still on there.
    My personal favorite Hold Music was what I put on when I worked at a little company in San Jose. 100% Christmas music, the Secretary said it shouldn't be done, it was October and all. But I said "But if we don't do it now, we won't catch them by suprise." It's really quite amazing how few people know how to change the hold music, even though it was powered by a normal cd player with a little wire running to the PBX
  • The following's just a small sampling of some of the musical horror you can inflict on those hapless souls you've got strung on hold. None of these are gratuitously bad tunes; many of them are, IMO, quite excellent. But they're all ... ahh. Shall we just say that they're very appropriate for the work experience? They all talk to the poor schmuck on the other end of the line and tell him/her how pathetic their situation is and how much you don't want to hear from them. :)

    Leonard Cohen, Waiting for the M
  • http://www.modarchive.com/ [modarchive.com]

    A lot of pretty much IP-free music, some of which is very good. You'll have to go through it to pick a few workable selections. 30 minutes should be plenty; if people are on hold for that long, you guys aren't doing your job!
  • It's a pivotal moment in ambient dance music - sure to calm anyone's frayed nerves. At least if the sound quality isn't so bad.....
    Here's waiting for CD quality VOIP codecs
  • by Grabble (91256) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @02:00AM (#9515564)


    You asked about what on-hold music to use. I'm going to pretend you said, "Give me input on phone-related stuff for my company."

    1) NEVER blame "unusual call volume" for hold times. God, that makes me sick. It's a sneaky way of saying "It's not our fault you're on hold." Yeah, it is.

    2) When the caller has finished their business, NEVER ask "Is there anything else I can help you with blah blah blah?". "No." "Okay then, thank you for calling Ultrablather Systems Software Systems Incorporated." STFU and say goodbye like any normal polite person and let me get off the goddamn phone.

    3) NEVER have a phone system that constantly reminds me every 30 seconds that your sorry I'm holding and blah blah blah. If you're not gonna have enough people to eliminate the wait, at least let me wait in peace.

    4) If your phone system requires me to punch numbers in, you better be sure your system rewards my effort. Being asked for the info I just punched in makes me want punch in your face.

    5) Make sure the hold music is QUIET.

    6) Play Dixieland music, simply because nobody does. Added bonus: It uses banjos.
    • Humm...Dell with their EXCELLENT home customer support seems to fail at your guideline.

      1. yep, they blame the latest virus/worm causing increased call volume and waits of an eternity.

      2. Yea, just gives me an excuse to think of something else to complain about- tying up the rep for even longer.

      3. yep, that music, then dell's "helpful" messages on how to get rid of spyware...bla bla. And the occasional reminder that I'm important (but nobody seems to talk to me)

      4. yep, i punch in my express service c
    • 1) NEVER blame "unusual call volume" for hold times. God, that makes me sick. It's a sneaky way of saying "It's not our fault you're on hold." Yeah, it is.

      Ever tried making sure hundreds of support agents are in the right place at the right time to answer the right amount of calls? It's not easy. Especially if there are multiple centers and/or there is something happening (virus, network outtage, 9/11, etc) that's causing increased volumes. Tech support is a loss leader for companies, they don't want to pay any more for it than they have to because it costs a *TON* of money. Quite frankly it may even cost more than losing a few customers for a lot of companies.

      2) When the caller has finished their business, NEVER ask "Is there anything else I can help you with blah blah blah?". "No." "Okay then, thank you for calling Ultrablather Systems Software Systems Incorporated." STFU and say goodbye like any normal polite person and let me get off the goddamn phone.

      People usually remember the first and last things about a call and not the middle. Most people *like* it when the agent seems to genuinely want to help. You're not going to get rid of this one anytime soon, management wants the companies name said at the end of the call so people will remember it.

      As for the rest of your suggestions, I only have an issue with #6, I hate dixieland music...
  • If copyrights aren't an issue, go for some modern lesser-known instrumental music. A lot of it is good while still being non-invasive. Because it will be something that most people probably haven't heard before, it could help reduce boredom by sparking intrest. Classical is alright but it's pretty generic.

    Whatever you decide, don't play the local fucking pop station. No product is worth having to sit through 30 minutes of ChristinaBritney/NickleCreed.

    Off the top of my head, some quiet instrumental mus
  • The best music I've found for chillin' is club/lounge music. Stuff like "Simple Things" by Zero 7, or "Sao Paolo Confessions" by Suba, or even the compo "Om Lounge Vol. 8".

    It's all catchy music that is mellow, interesting enough to keep you listening, without putting you to sleep. They're all on iTunes if you wanna give 'em a listen.

  • well, the RIAA might have something bad to say. .but... try... Godsmack.. "Whatever".

    I'm doin the best I ever did
    I'm doin the best that I can
    I'm doin the best I ever did
    Now fuckin' go away!

  • AMBIENT (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Feztaa (633745) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @03:16AM (#9515812) Homepage
    Find some AMBIENT music from any musician. I would personally recommend Aphex Twin's ambient works, but that's personal taste.

    Remember, hold music is meant to just remind the caller that the line has not, in fact, gone dead and that they are still on the line. It should not be anything catchy or particularly enjoyable (because everybody has different tastes and there's no such thing as a song that every person will enjoy).

    So just pick something ambient. Preferrably it'll be calming, with no beat.

    Whatever you do, please god, don't play popular mainstream music.
  • Excellent instrumental tracks that you've probably heard before (as this album was originally released as a promo to media to use as background music). Of course, this suggestion is comming from a hard core Beastie Boy fan ;)

    Amazon [amazon.com]

  • just play the first 30 seconds of It's a small world or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, then cut it abruptly and allow people to entertain themseleves by singing either of those songs to themselves over and over again for the next several days.
    go ahead, try it
    it's a small world afterall
    it's a small world after....
  • You absolutely, positively have to rip the audio from this [ibiblio.org] and loop it.

    They'll love it. I'm sure. >:D
  • Blondie 'Hanging On The Telephone'.

    Quite apt.

    Steve :)
  • The Muzak version of course. Why limit it to just elevators?
  • by kipple (244681) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @04:40AM (#9516038) Journal
    1) it is proven that helps to relax
    2) no RIAA bugging you

    but please make it longer than the usual 30seconds.. and it would be nice to "beep" loud when someone answers the phone, in case the on-hold time will take longer than 2 minutes.
  • Whatever you do, don't attempt to filter out the vocals..

    I once sat through about half of Eric Claptons Chronicles, with the voice filtered out, and interrupted every 17 seconds (yes, I timed it..) by a inane message that I was still holding.

    I don't think I've heard the album since (yeah, I own it.. it'sfrom back when it was OK to buy music ;) )
  • I worked a summer job a at small-time ISP when I was 16. I hated working there and the boss always treated me like scum, so when he wasn't around I'd change the CD for the PBX to Dead Kennedys "In God We Trust, Inc." or Crass' "Christ - The Album".

    Oh ho ho. Somehow the old boar didn't find out. I loved it.
  • by rixstep (611236) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @06:18AM (#9516312) Homepage
    Some suggestions for lame companies ruining their reps with piss-poor lift music:
    1. God Save The Queen, Sex Pistols
    2. Love To Love You Baby, Donna Summer (maybe not)
    3. Get Off My Cloud, Rolling Stones
    4. Too Drunk To Fuck, Dead Kennedys
    5. Ayatollah Khomeini, Eddie Meduza
    6. Too Much Sunshine, Midnight Oil

    And for the companies intent on fast Chapter 11:
    1. Copacabana, Barry Manilow
    2. Kenny G
    3. I Want To Feel Your Body, Samantha Fox

    Who says corporate suits have to be uncool?

    (Shuddup!)

    And remember: Martha was ready to change brokers over bad lift music - it's a good thing!
  • by Andy_R (114137) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @06:34AM (#9516347) Homepage Journal
    While you are apologising for putting them on hold might be a good time to ask.

    Having said that, if you are a tech company, how about the 6-CD set of the HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the BBC radio show version)? No ads, no swearing (apart from b*lg**m), and quite a high 'oh, I forgot about this funny bit' value if you dip in at random.
  • Don't use live radio (Score:4, Informative)

    by cdrudge (68377) * on Thursday June 24, 2004 @07:34AM (#9516576) Homepage
    Please don't use live radio. I work for a large national hardware chain co-op. I'm on hold frequently waiting for a store to do something and occasionally hear a commercial for a competing store. Think Lowes doing advertising for Home Depot with their hold music.
  • My Ideas (Score:3, Funny)

    by _aa_ (63092) <j AT uaau DOT ws> on Thursday June 24, 2004 @11:48AM (#9518891) Homepage Journal
    1. Police/Fire Scanner
    2. Books on Tape
    3. White Noise
    4. Foreign Language Lessons
    5. NPR
    6. Raymond Scott - Soothing Sounds for Baby [raymondscott.com]
    7. Place Microphone in Center of Office
    8. Train Sounds
    9. Bubble Wrap
    10. Car Dealership Commercials
    11. Make a "People On Hold" Party Line
    12. Heavy Breathing
    13. These [f7sound.com]
    14. Fax Machine Sounds
    15. "Guess The DTMF" Game
    16. Funny Answering Machine Outgoing Messages
    17. Phone Sex
    18. Bass Test CDs
    19. Trivia Questions
    20. The Sound of One Hand Clapping

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