The on-hold opportunity: Veritonic measures consumer preferences

“Be thoughtful about your hold experience.” That is the guiding principle and throughline of a new study by audio analytics company Veritonic — Harmonizing Connections: How Audio Turns Waiting Time into Brand-Building Opportunities. (Free download HERE.)

Veritonic hits on an audio segment almost never mentioned: The music or spoken word audio that phone callers hear when they call a company and must wait on hold. This is a powerful space; for the most part listeners cannot leave, and cannot avoid listening to whatever programming is put in that space. “The hold experience matters,” Veritonic asserts.

The company backs up that premise through a piece of research which is unique in our experience: Veritonic interviewed hundreds of podcast listeners about their on-hold experiences with different brands and services. In particular, how audio impacted brand impressions.

A few broad takeaways about general programming of the Hold space:

  • 90% of respondents prefer hearing music to an ad.
  • 92% prefer hearing music to silence.
  • Given a choice of an ad which contains talking, and silence, 57% of respondents would choose the talkative ad.
  • Just under half of respondents (49%) said that a meditation track on hold is more relaxing than music or an ad that contains talking. (We’re surprised it’s not a higher percentage.)

The results teach us that most consumers (82%) will hold for longer if the hold music is enjoyable — an important result for any company that wishes to retain its callers through a potentially lengthy hold wait. Further, 70% of consumers said they would be “less likely to fixate” on a long wait time (we love this question) if the hold music is enjoyable.

Those results beg the question: How does a company know the music preferences of any hold-waiting customer? It’s an intriguing question for the audio audience targeting industry, but this survey provides an easier answer: 73% say that wait time is more enjoyable if the company merely plays top-50 charted songs.

But pickiness still pervades: 86% of consumers prefer that the hold song be one they recognize. Those demanding on-hold customers!

There’s more. Most people don’t want the music to be “too loud.” That seems a likely preference across the universe of consumer programming. Then there is this: Don’t program music whose tones and rhythms are “too repetitive,” because the customers will develop negative sentiment about the brand.

Our takeaway: Yeah, make a good product. But be sure your hold music is always on, not too loud, not too soft, and draws from the absolute center of mainstream pop.

But wait — Veritonic has takeaways, too. “Don’t sleep on the power of using a hold period to engage your audience.” There’s more. Get the short and clarifying deck, HERE.

Brad Hill