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Consider these message on hold statistics:

  • 84% of callers are put on hold for 16 seconds or more*
  • The average small business puts customers on hold for a combined 180 hours a year.*
  • The average executive spends 15 minutes a day or 68 hours a year on hold.**

That’s a lot of time on hold. And a lot of time that companies should use as a strategic opportunity to connect with their customers.

“The purpose of a message on hold program is to keep callers on the line and serve them with interesting information until the client can talk to them,” says Jerri Owen, production manager at On Hold Company. “And it all begins with the script. If your script is weak, boring or lacking in production quality, callers may hang up and cost you a strategic business opportunity. It has to be engaging, interesting and of the highest quality to make every connection count.”

Here are seven keys to creating an effective message on hold script that will help keep callers engaged, responsive and ready to talk to you when you pick up.

Key #1: Know Your Customer

You have to know what information will answer your caller’s questions, peak their interest and ultimately answer a call to action. The message on hold script should be pleasing to the ear, contain dynamic sentence structure, be interesting and clear. The scripting should evoke the correct image and emotion.

Key #2: Do Your Homework

Writing great message on hold scripts requires a good understanding of the business, its objectives and customers.

“In most cases, marketing materials such as websites, social media and brochures provide the relevant information needed,” says Owen. “In cases where marketing materials are insufficient or where the business is complex, the scriptwriter should interview the client. To get an effective message on hold, the scriptwriter must know how to make a valuable connection between the client and customer.”

Key #3: Avoid these Common Scripting Mistakes

  • Take care to avoid boring, outdated language and incorrect terminology.
  • Strike a balance between brevity and length. If a script is too short it can feel repetitive. If it’s too long, it can feel monotonous.
  • Watch the tone: if your business is a funeral home, the script should sound comforting, reassuring and hopeful – not like it was written for a car dealership.

Key #4: Keep Your Script Current

Different businesses have different needs. Some need new messages frequently in order to keep up with changing marketing goals such as new sales, new products and new information. Others experience less change in their business so their need to update their message on hold is less frequent.

Businesses should review their script once a year at a minimum but more preferably on a quarterly basis.

“Some clients don’t want to change their message because they like it,” says Alane Richardson, director of Customer Service at On Hold Company. “But we have to remind them that their callers may have memorized it and tuned it out. We need to keep it fresh to keep the callers engaged. At the very minimum, we change the voice talent and music so that callers will hear something different and be more likely to listen.”

Key #5: Take Advantage of Holidays and Other Special Occasions

Message on hold scripts should be current and relevant to callers. Changing your script to reflect holidays and special occasions is a great way to make a fresh connection with callers.

“During holidays, businesses experience higher call volumes so there will be more callers on hold,” says Owen. “Businesses should take advantage of this captive audience to promote holiday specials. You can also feature employees, awards won, new locations and other personal touches which connect callers to the human side of your business.”

Key #6: Make Sure that the Voice Talent and Music Complement Your Script

You can have an award-winning script but if it’s not matched to appropriate voice talent and background music, it won’t sound congruent. Script, voice and music need to work in tandem to communicate a cohesive message to callers.

Things to consider when matching voice and music to the script are the:

  • The industry
  • The geographic location
  • The tone of the script
  • The brand

Key #7: Use a Professional Message on Hold Scriptwriter

Professional message on hold scriptwriters write thousands of scripts a year. You can’t beat that kind of experience.