It’s Just Muzak

Filed under: Music On Hold — admin @ 8:15 pm

~ This was posted on - August 25, 2009

In this post we take a break from our considerations of the strategic application of music and message to look at the issue of your choice in an on-hold music and messaging provider.

Muzak has earned a dubious reputation over the years with both the public in general and, apparently, with some of their customers as well. The typical impression most people seem to have of “muzak” is “that insipid, vapid, annoying background sound in the air (regardless of whether or not Muzak actually produced it) on elevators, in restaurants, in hotel lobbies and doctors’ offices, and, while waiting interminably on-hold calling one’s favorite mega-corporation.” Rock music legend, Ted Nugent, was at one time reputed to have attempted to buy Muzak for $10 million “…just for the pleasure of erasing the tapes”.

Nowadays there are options in the world of on-hold music and messaging, however this may not yet be common knowledge. Could it be that Muzak took for granted the popular perception of their being the only game in town? In addition to being infamous for a product most people seem to think of as a joke, albeit the “only” joke, in February of this year Muzak made the news when it filed bankruptcy. Perhaps the apparent scarcity of competition led to a lack of motivation and consequently lax business management in various areas, such as customer service.

Holdtime Music has heard complaints of poor customer service and “vindictive five year contracts” more than once in discussions with local Muzak customers exploring their options. If on-hold music and messaging were “just muzak”, these issues might not warrant a second thought.
Given the potential, however, of on-hold technologies for reaching a warm market with fresh, targeted messages such neglect does not make good business sense. Muzak’s seemingly cavalier attitude has created a wide-open opportunity for competitors such as Holdtime, small though they may be, to pick up valuable market share through no-brainer strategies including realistic contracts, aggressive pricing, and customer-focused customer service. Add to that mix, thoughtful, well-written, custom on-hold productions, and the general public, not to mention Muzak, may soon be in for a paradigm shift.

Telephone Hold Music – The Psychological Impact

Filed under: free hold music — admin @ 3:19 pm

~ This was posted on - August 22, 2009

Telephone hold music – We’ve been discussing the importance of appealing to the range of people and personality types calling your business or organization. We’ll now zero in on some of the specific factors that play into your choice of telephone hold music – and its emotional and psychological impact on your callers. This is important for the simple reason that your telephone hold music may actually have an influence on your bottom line!

What criteria should you consider in choosing your telephone hold music? Your own personal preference may or may not be the best point of reference. Of course, you may want to be guided in part by the tastes of your clientele who are calling, however, that may or may not be the best way to pick your on-hold music either. The effects of various types of music, from classical to country to rock to rap, on humans, animals, and even plants have been studied for years and become subjects of popular discussion. While researching for this blog I came across an article (at “Suite101”, a library of online articles on a range of topics) describing one such study in which one group of mice listened to classical music twenty-four hours a day while a second group listened to heavy metal. The researcher then timed the mice as they ran through mazes to see if the music affected their speed of learning. According to the article, the researcher unfortunately had to terminate the experiment prematurely as the mice exposed to the heavy metal music all killed one another. Could there be a lesson here to learn for you in picking your telephone hold music?

Statistically, it appears that music types such as classical, soft jazz, piano, and harp may be the optimum choice for engendering a positive mindset in your callers as they wait on hold. It seems that, as a general rule, the harder-edged the music the more negative the emotional and psychological impact on those exposed to it. (By the way, violent and negative lyrics can also have adverse effects on listeners, and this would tend to compound the problems with music such as hard rock, however, for telephone hold music it is generally better to use instrumental music anyway. More on this topic in a future post.)

Real estate agents are known to employ the positive psychological and emotional affect of the smell of fresh-baked bread or chocolate chip cookies wafting through the air to help create positive feelings about a house they are showing. Perhaps the right choice in your telephone hold music could have a similar impact on your callers’ ears! It may be only a subtle effect, but if it favorably disposes them toward doing business with you, even if only slightly, it would be worth it.

Messages and Music On Hold – Make the “Combo” Work for You

Filed under: On Hold Messaging — admin @ 11:57 am

~ This was posted on - August 8, 2009

I just got off the phone with a graphic designer who is working on a website and logo design project for me. Of course I’m trying to get the concepts and images in my mind to his mind. We were talking about not only this specific project and our attempts to communicate with each other but also that process generally of one person trying to communicate something subjective to another person. Just before he hung up, he made an insightful statement: “You can talk about the technical specifics forever and never get there; sometimes you just have to see it or hear it and say, “Yeah, that’s it!”

The previous post of this blog considered the fact that the world is made up of what we might call “thinkers” and “feelers” and virtually all people are really some mix of both. No matter what the communication medium from email to radio advertising to messages and music on hold, you can enhance its effectiveness by keeping that “combo” idea of thinking and feeling in mind. An average sampling of customers calling your phone system will include some people who want you to “bottom line it” for them and others who want you to tell them stories and paint pictures. It might be safe to assume that some combination of the two approaches is generally a good strategy. As I said in an earlier post, “people do business with people”. Customers need to feel they can trust you and they relate to you on some level. If everything else is equal between you and your competition, you’ll win the day if your customers are more comfortable with who you are as a person – or who your people are as people.

Being “nice” or likeable is not the point, however. You must be perceived as an expert. Moreover, you must really be an expert, and you must give your customers the specific information and answers they need. The trick is finding a way to communicate your expertise in an appealing and relevant way. Your customers must know that not only are you a competent professional, you also hear them as people and understand their situation, issues, needs, and objectives. It’s basic, “customer service 101”, and it applies to your messages and music on hold as much as any other area of your communications.

Music and Messages On Hold: A Powerful Combo at Your Fingertips

Filed under: Music On Hold — admin @ 4:48 pm

~ This was posted on - August 1, 2009

A friend of mine is the director of a school for the arts that specializes in “unlocking the creative energy and talent in those who are right-brained and who wish to pursue the arts”. She has also written a book on understanding right-brain intelligence and gifting. On the frontispiece, she quotes Albert Einstein, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

It takes all types of people to “make the world go ‘round”, and the business world is no exception. “Right-brain creatives”, “left-brain rationalists”, and everyone in-between seem to have their place. While some people may be more strongly disposed toward one or the other way of seeing the world, most of us probably fall somewhere in the middle. None of us is entirely devoid of the alternate thinking style; even the most logic-driven analysts have emotions and some capacity for appreciating the “whimsical”, all of their “rational” denial notwithstanding. Conversely, even the most fanciful “artiste” possesses some sense of logic, dormant though it may be. Chances are, you have a varied mix of “types” calling your business or organization on the telephone every day. Your music and messages on-hold are the perfect vehicle for reaching this diverse audience.

Music appeals to the emotions. Messages – i.e. words – are capable of moving in areas of rational precision and specificity from which music and emotions seem forever barred. At the same time, words can appeal to the emotions as well. In fact, both music and words can impact the emotions in ways the other cannot. Curiously, the actual structure of music is packed full of logic and mathematics, even as its end result can be a mysterious, almost magical manipulation of the emotions or the opening of doors into other worlds of the imagination. Together, music and words (messages) are powerful tools you can easily use to impact the people who call you while they are waiting on hold.

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