What Does Your Virtual Call Center Hold Music Say About Your Brand?

No one likes to be kept waiting. Sometimes it's unavoidable, and most people understand that. In these situations, when a customer calls into your virtual call center, the right on-hold music can mean the difference between someone who's patiently waiting and someone who's ready to scream at your unsuspecting customer service rep. Making people wait in silence or bombarding them with redundant messaging is a bad way to start off the customer experience with your service team. That's why it's important to choose the right type of music for your customers.

What Your On-Hold Music Says About Your Company

When establishing a virtual call center, one feature that should never be overlooked is the selection of hold music. Whether it plays for 10 seconds or 10 minutes, the choice of music reflects your company, and you want to be sure it's reflecting the right image.

Of course, choosing the right genre of music or creating a customized playlist can be challenging. For businesses with a niche customer base, the answer is often obvious. If you sell ranching equipment, country music is probably the way to go. If you make denture cream, opt for golden oldies. However, most large enterprises serve diverse customer bases with different demographics and vastly different tastes in music.

You can't play every customer's favorite song, but you can find music with a wide appeal that makes sense for your brand and target audience. Here are four common types of hold music and the associations listeners might make with your brand upon hearing them:

1. Easy Listening

Characterized by the smooth jazz sounds of Kenny G, Frank Sinatra's "Girl from Ipanema," and Celine Dion hits from the "Titanic" soundtrack, easy listening has long been a popular choice for hold music. It makes listeners feel like they're stuck in an elevator in a fancy hotel in the '90s, but it is, by definition, easy to listen to. Most people don't love it, but they don't exactly hate it, either. It's familiar and comforting, but it's also dated, clichéd, and a little boring.

That might work if you want your brand to come across as traditional and nostalgic. After all, '90s pop culture has been making a comeback lately. But if you're looking to project a more modern, hip, cutting-edge image, saxophones and Streisand won't help you do it.

2. Classical

A popular choice for government organizations, banks, and universities, classical music evokes a sophistication and seriousness that works for some brands. Yet much like easy listening, it doesn't scream innovative, nor does it give off a welcoming, approachable vibe.

If you use classical music, limit your playlist to upbeat or whimsical songs. Slower songs are likely to put your customers to sleep, while some of the more intense numbers might actually raise their anxiety levels, defeating the purpose of hold music altogether.

3. Top 40

Playing current hits — sans the inappropriate language — is a great way to appeal to the masses (at least those under 30). Of course, not everyone digs "what the kids are into these days." If your target audience skews older, you run the risk of making them feel like they're stuck in the car with their teenagers or making them feel old when they don't recognize any of the songs.

Using chart toppers isn't the most novel idea, so it might not make for a memorable or unexpected hold experience. However, it does project a more modern, approachable vibe than smooth jazz or orchestral music.

4. Instrumental Rock or Hip-Hop

It's always a little strange to hear once-hardcore music turned into soft piano or orchestral numbers, but it's also fun identifying them. ("Wait, is that "Under Pressure" or "Ice Ice Baby?") Of course, Metallica and Kanye fans might not enjoy hearing distorted versions of their favorite songs, but without the lyrics, those songs are more digestible for wider audiences.

This is an interesting way to incorporate popular music that might otherwise be considered inappropriate for businesses to play. Aside from offending the purists, it could work for brands that want to seem hip but professional.

So, what does your hold music say about your brand? Or, more importantly, what do you want it to say? Consider what you know about your customers and how you want them to feel about your brand. Then, translate those insights into a great hold experience.

To learn more about setting up a virtual call center, speak to a Vonage Business consultant.

Vonage Staff

Written by Vonage Staff

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