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Types of Messages on Hold: Elevating Customer Experience

14 June 2024


When it comes to enhancing customer experience, businesses often focus on the front-end interactions, such as customer service and product quality. However, one crucial aspect that is often overlooked is the time customers spend on hold. Messages on hold, far from being mere fillers, can play a pivotal role in shaping customer perceptions and satisfaction. Let’s explore the various types of in-queue and on-hold messaging and how they can transform the waiting experience into something beneficial and engaging.

Traditional On-Hold Music

The most common form of on-hold messaging is your good old-fashioned traditional music on hold. Fun fact: did you know, music on hold was invented by accident in 1962 by Alfred Levy (CallsonHold.com). He discovered that a loose wire in his factory’s phone system was picking up a nearby radio broadcast, which callers could hear while they were on hold. Realising the potential of this phenomenon, he developed a system to play music intentionally for callers on hold. Although simple, it serves an essential purpose: reducing perceived wait times and keeping callers from feeling neglected. Traditional on-hold music usually consists of instrumental tracks that are pleasant and non-intrusive, ensuring that the caller’s experience remains positive. However, the downside is that if the music is repetitive or not to the caller’s taste, it can become irritating. Businesses know the importance of selecting  music carefully to suit their brand and ensuring the genre and pace appeals to their customers

Creative and Engaging On-Hold Messages

Moving away from traditional music, many businesses opt for creative and engaging on-hold messages to align with their business brand. These messages are usually mixed in with a music bed and are designed to capture the caller’s attention, conveying valuable information. Messages can include fun facts, interesting trivia, or even a brief history of the company. Engaging on-hold messages can significantly enhance the caller’s experience, making the wait feel shorter and more enjoyable. Additionally, these messages can be used to promote special offers, new products, or upcoming events, turning a potentially frustrating wait into an informative and engaging interaction.

Customised Messages for Different Business Types

Every business is unique needs, catering to multiple client demographics. Customising on-hold messages to fit the specific needs of the business can greatly enhance effectiveness. For instance, a medical practice might use on-hold time to provide health tips or information about new services, while a car dealership might highlight the latest vehicle models and finance options.

Customised messages ensure that the content is relevant and valuable to the caller, increasing the likelihood of a positive experience. This tailored approach helps maintain professionalism and reinforces the business’s brand image. Did you know, certain VoIP systems even allow you to upload your message on hold as individual productions – this will give you the opportunity to randomise the playback!

Additional Features, such as IVR and Call Routing

Messages on hold can be integrated with additional features like Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems and call routing. IVR allows callers to interact with the phone system using voice commands or keypad inputs, providing a more interactive and efficient experience. For example, callers can be guided to the appropriate department or receive answers to frequently asked questions without needing to speak to a representative.

Call routing ensures that callers are directed to the right person or department quickly, reducing wait times and improving overall efficiency. Calls can also be re-routed to a voicemail so callers can opt for a callback if the wait period is too long. (Virtual on hold). These additional features, when combined with informative and engaging on-hold messages, can significantly enhance the customer experience by providing quick resolutions and maintaining a professional image.

Comparing and Contrasting Different Options for Messages on Hold

When deciding on the type and style of YOUR unique message on hold, you need to  consider specific customer preferences. Traditional on-hold music is simple and effective but can become monotonous if not chosen carefully. Creative and engaging messages offer more value by providing information and entertainment.  For the ultimate customer experience, why not keep your messages fresh by regularly updating content?  Regular content updates means customers are listening to the most up-to-date an relevant info about YOUR business.    

Custom messages offer the most tailored experience, ensuring that the content is directly relevant to the caller’s needs and the business’s goals. However, this approach requires more effort in planning and implementation.

Integrating additional features like IVR and call routing can further enhance the effectiveness of on-hold messages, but it requires investment in technology and training. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks, and the best choice will depend on the business’s specific requirements and resources.


Messages on hold are an often-underutilized tool which can significantly enhance customer experience. From traditional music to creative and engaging messages, and from customized content to advanced features like IVR and call routing, there are numerous options available to suit different business needs. By carefully considering these options and implementing the most suitable ones, businesses can turn on-hold time into a valuable opportunity to inform, engage, and impress their customers. In doing so, they not only improve the waiting experience but also reinforce their brand image and increase customer satisfaction.

McGirvanmedia is the largest message on Hold, music on hold, and IVR voice telephony supplier on Australia’s East Coast.  Our expert team of Voice artists are real people, who will be a professional and authentic representation of your brand. You can select one of our amazing professional voices via our audio library

Please email us at enquiries@mcgirvanmedia.com.au or call to speak to one of our experts on 1800 777 428.

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