Creativity on Hold

Why your on-hold music is such as important part of your CX strategy

28 Jun 2018

We’ve all been in a queue, waiting patiently whilst the agent is “busy helping other customers”. But, “your call is important”, remember. And “did you know, you can get answers to your queries on the website ”? Now I don’t know about you, but hearing these things makes me feel like just another number on a conveyor belt of needy callers. (If this sounds like your caller experience, we need to talk).

Some might say creativity on-hold is limited due to file sizes and sound quality… but we don’t agree.

This is a captive audience. So it’s actually a magical space where you can help your caller feel a certain feel. You can educate them, entertain them, reinforce your brand or invite them to interact with you. When it’s done well, your caller will feel valued and be in a better frame of mind. And a better frame of mind gives way to a better conversation. A better conversation then leads to a stronger relationship with the brand, which means they’ll use you again. And they may even recommend you to others, and share their experience. This all sounds pretty positive to us.

How can you be more creative on the phone?

Let’s face it – people’s attention spans are short. But unfortunately, sometimes, they just have to wait. And if the waiting experience is unhelpful or repetitive, it might frustrate the caller. A creative on-hold experience will help reduce the perception of time spent on-hold. I’m often caught having a little sing-along with the music while waiting for someone to answer. To me, that’s a good sign as I’m joining in with it and not fighting against it. So here are a few tips to try:

Targeting and adding value

Your on-hold experience shouldn’t be a one size fits all jobby. When you have different queues for different call-types, personalising the content for each route adds huge value. It gives you control in creating a relevant experience for the caller – which helps them feel valued, important and cared about.

If I’m calling because my new XYZ phone keeps switching itself off, I don’t want to hear about how amazing the new XYZ phone is, or about the awards you’ve won. I’m a little disappointed, and that doesn’t match up with my state of mind or experience so far. I feel like you don’t understand why I’m here.

So think about who you’re talking to and why they’re calling. Use the space to show you understand the caller and what they need. You may even be able to solve their query while they’re waiting, and they might not need to speak to an agent after all. A job well done!


The type of music you use will depend on your brand, and your call types. It’s a really important part of your experience, and can set the tone really well – or not. But even to this day, with the explosion of audio products and voice activated systems like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, most phone systems don’t have great sound quality. This is something you have to bear in mind when designing creative aspects of the caller experience. For example, too much percussion on music tracks can sound tinny and crackly over the phone, which might irritate callers or cause discomfort. Here at Customer Touch Point, we have a methodology and techniques to make sure you get the best out of your sound, especially when being creative.

Depending on the type of system you have, you could also present your music slightly differently. If your on-hold is one long mixed file, you could mix it in a way that there’s no silence in-between tracks. When a song finishes and you hear a few seconds of silence, you’re aware that another song has finished in the time you’re still waiting. So mixing the music differently is a way to keep the energy of the experience rolling, and helps to reduce the perception of waiting time again.

Sound effects

There’s certainly room to use sound effects to bring your messages to life (just make sure it suits your brand – it might not work for all companies and call types).  Like with music, due to sound quality, audio that’s been creatively designed for use elsewhere, such as the radio, may not work as well on phone. Due to smaller file sizes, certain sounds and details get lost – but here at Customer Touch Point we understand what works in this environment, and use it to create an engaging, creative  message. For example, if you’re in the travel sector you could include beach sound effects or splashing and other familiar sounds behind the scripting to enhance the experience. If you’re in the entertainment sector, you could use music and sound effects that sound like you’re at a concert, or a show. It’s refreshing. Don’t forget, you can use your brand’s sonic logo in your experience if you have one too.


Try not to send callers back to your website to get their query answered, like some kind of eternal loop. Chances are they’ve been there already and still need help. If you have a new feature or service they might not have seen, that’s fine. Just make sure it adds value.

Companies have so much more than the website now too. For example, you could talk about your podcast by creating a promo for it, or drop clips into your on-hold. It helps to show rather than tell.

Also think about how else people can keep in touch or keep in the know. If you’ve got a blog, share it. You can talk about what social media channels you’re using, the campaigns you’re running and how they can get involved. You can share information on events, charity work or news. Have you any tips and tricks surrounding the reason they’re calling, or any interesting facts about the industry you’re in? You could even share your brand story.

And finally…

Of course, all of these aspects need to be kept up to date and relevant, but it’s worth it. It doesn’t have to feel like a typical on-hold experience – a splash of creativity can give the caller a fresh approach and feel more modern, in touch and current.

We understand what does and doesn’t work on the phone and how to work with certain restrictions, rather than be held back by them. If you need help with any creative aspects of your caller experience, give us a buzz. Our team of copywriters, audio producers and customer experience gurus will be keen to help you and you can get in touch with them here contact us

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