Telephone Audio, Getting the Most from IVR and On Hold Marketing

IVR is short for Interactive Voice Response, an automated system that uses a touch response telephone to direct your call. You will have one of these if you have multiple departments with lots of incoming calls.

60% of callers put on a silent on-hold hang up within 40 seconds and callers put on-hold with information and music will stay about 3 minutes longer.

55% of communication is lost over the phone (body language), leaving us with 38% through tone of voice and just 7% through words.

As you can see from the statistics, giving the wrong message in the wrong tone could actually damage your sales and your reputation.

Many companies spend time and money on their visual branding (logo and leaflets) but neglect their telephone audio. “Your sonic branding is as important as your visual branding!”

This article looks at some of the common mistakes made with IVR and on-hold marketing. It also outlines some good techniques to use.

You Rang!

It is best to have just a few options on your telephone system. People lose interest quickly so listing every department is not always a good idea. Think about it from the customers’ point of view, what will they be calling your company for? To buy products? Information? To make a complaint?

It is recommended that you keep it to 3 or 4 salient options max if you can. If you think that you need 7 or 8 options, be ruthless; cut it down to the 3 or 4 relevant points. You can always have the 4th option to cover all other enquiries.

Remember, the purpose of telephone options is to get the potential client through to the most relevant operator as quickly as possible. Failing that, you need to get them to remain on hold until you are able to deal with their call.

“Thank you for calling ABC, for sales please press 1 – for product information press 2 – for all other enquiries press 3.”

Make it simple and friendly and always use a professional voice-over. People relate to it better and psychologically, it is more accepted and expected by the caller. Your company will sound established and efficient and will instantly inspire confidence. You can always tell when a member of the office records the IVR options, you know, the one with the best telephone voice!

Think about the type of voice-over you want to use… What image do you want your company to portray in the mind of the listener? What is your target market?

Using a voice-over style that will connect with your caller is important. You don’t want a mature corporate voice if your company is aimed at 18-25 year olds, and likewise, you don’t want a young radio type voice if you are a firm of lawyers.

On-hold Now

Being on hold can be annoying, however, you can entertain and use this time to educate your caller. A silent on-hold 홀덤 is extremely cold and callers hang up much sooner than when they have something to occupy them.


Music can alleviate boredom, however, make sure your music is properly licensed for use on a telephone system otherwise you could face a copyright infringement charge.

Also, do select the music carefully. Not everybody has your taste in music… for example, a banging hip-hop track may alienate some of your callers. It is usually best to go for music that is easy on the ear or relaxing. Original music is a good choice for telephone use as the caller has no preconceptions about the piece – they just accept it as music.

As with the voice, it is also advisable to pick music that is relevant to the company image you want to portray. It is acceptable for a nightclub to use a pumping dance track, but clearly this would be wrong for an accountant’s office.

It is good practice to thank the caller for holding, but do not do it every 5 seconds! Many on hold systems work on a continuous loop. I suggest having your ‘thank you’ message at the beginning and in the middle of the loop. Intervals of 20-30 seconds don’t disrupt the music too much but remind your caller that you care.

Entertain, educate and sell!

Don’t waste the opportunity you have when a caller is on hold. You have a captive audience. You have a great opportunity to keep them occupied and educate them about your services.

It is best not to blatantly advertise, or to cram as many ads in as possible. A more subtle approach is far less intrusive and more appreciated by the caller. On-hold marketing should use voice and music combined. They are both important elements so let any adverts breath; make sure there is music on either side of them to break things up.

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