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stop torturing customers on-hold!

“That’s the stupidest idea ever for a blog!

There’s no challenge to writing On-Hold messages!”


Honestly, writing On-Hold messages is not always high on any business’ priority. Which is fine except for the fact that on average, every single call that comes in to your company will be placed on hold from anywhere from five to thirty seconds (and sometimes much longer at certain companies). Just for a moment, multiply that average time (17.5 seconds) by the number of calls you get in a day. Would you consider that On-Hold time more of a service opportunity or a sales opportunity?  If you said both then you (as the kids say) “get it”.

Placing callers On-Hold represent a valuable time to: a. Not alienate current or potential customers who are calling your company b. Create a sales opportunity, re-enforce your brand, up-sell or simple make a caller feel welcomed and appreciated

CHALLENGES, PROBLEMS AND FAUX PAS, OH MY! Folks, I’ve seen a lot of On-Hold copy come through my studio. Some scripts are outstanding but I also know that writing for On-Hold is a huge challenge for many business people. However, I never present a problem without presenting a solution so smile, help is on the way.

The Top Three Challenges Found in On-Hold Message Scripts

#1 A writer is not doing the writing.  It may be the company President or it may be an Administrative Assistant, both very competent for their positions but they are often not professional writers. Non-writers often break a plethora of rules like not tying some of the On-Hold messages into current marketing messages or copy points (Marketing 101). Also, non-writers often create run-on sentences, which are easily identifiable for an announcer because he/she sounds asthmatic when they finally get to the period (Grammar 101). If your company doesn’t have a marketing department, find a writer…it’s not that expensive.

#2 Duplicating the brochure text verbatim. There is a beauty to the written word that makes it such a valued and expressive medium. Equally, the grace and effectiveness of the spoken word relies on the written word BUT there is a unique and important way to write for the spoken word. Everything from copy length to vocal cadence and many things in between should encourage you not to assume that brochure copy will easily translate in to On-Hold script copy. Know your medium as well as your audience.

#3 Omitting the On-Hold basics. “Thank you for holding.” Sounds like a basic item that anyone would know to put into an On-Hold script. I see it left out all the time. There are many On-Hold “cues”…some day it might be considered “On-Hold Message Etiquette”…that companies leave off their scripts. Web site addresses are another common omission. Know what you are “supposed” to say as well as what you “want” to say. Some simple tips:

  • Find a good writer, someone who can properly translate your message to a well-crafted audio script.
  • Be creative in your messages, keep the listener engaged…pleasantly startle them.
  • Be sensitive and polite on your recordings, sometimes this can be as simple as please and thank you!
  • Update your messages often, write enough messages for three or four tapes and switch them throughout the year.

While writing for On-Hold isn’t brain surgery, it isn’t kids play either. Plan ahead to ensure your company takes full advantage of its17.5 seconds of On-Hold fame.