March 1998



Replace annoying Muzak with information

To get an important point across to your customers, leave them a message. More U.S. companies (jewelers among them) are doing so with on-hold messaging - recordings played over the phone to callers while they wait. Companies use these messages to reinforce advertising, pitch a product or simply provide information about who they are and what they do. According to an article in U.S. Airways' Attaché magazine, 7% of U.S. companies now use on-hold messaging, and the number is growing at an annual rate of 30%.

The first task of on-hold messaging, the article says, is to stop customers from getting frustrated or bored and hanging up. Though there are no hard statistics, marketing folk-wisdom has it that 70% of all callers are put on hold, and up to one-third of those hang up and never call again.

The messages' usefulness goes beyond that. Sometimes they "broadcast a company's world view," the article says, as Paine Webber does when it incorporates synopses of its newsletter articles into its messages. (Jewelers can use on-hold messaging to present their own "world views" on such topics as, say, phony discounting or the importance of cut in determining diamond quality.)

"As advertising and marketing go, on-hold messaging is pretty cheap," the article says. About 450 companies provide this service, and can rustle up anything from simple information bullets to pastiches incorporating music and sound effects. Costs vary greatly, based on the complexity of the message, the number of times per year it's changed and any licensing fees required for music included in the message.

A company cited in the article, On Hold Advantage, in Portsmouth, VA, charges $500 for up-front costs, then $595 for eight copyrighted messages. More elaborate programs can run into the thousands of dollars, the article says.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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