How to shop on-hold messaging companies:
Does the vendor lock you into any kind of long-term contract?
At first glance, the long term contract appears appealing- but do you really want to be locked into a relationship, which doesn't offer you an "out" in case you are not satisfied with their programming or service? In our travels, we have found quite a few dissatisfied customers of other larger on-hold companies, who are unable to break that airtight multi-year contract they just signed- even though they are currently unhappy with the programming or don't feel they are being properly serviced- they feel there is no other recourse than to endure their contract to the end.
Ask for an extensive list of references- and then spend the time to call their references and ask:
- About the quality of customer service and responsiveness they have experienced from the on-hold vendor.
- What their customers think about the programs- does the business get compliments on the quality and content of the on-hold message or does the caller complain about being put on-hold?
- Whether the on-hold message successfully conveys the actual message and the character of the business to the calling customer.
Listen to the quality of the background music.
- Does it sound like the dreaded "elevator music" or is the music vibrant and dynamic?
- How does the music interact with the programming?
- Is it all at one volume level or does the volume level change throughout the program and in concert with the announcer's voice?
It doesn't take a lot of production time to just lay a voice track on a softly playing music bed in the background. Hence, this common type of production is typically found in the more boring on-hold messages.
- Does the music represent the character or image of your company?
Listen to the quality of the announcer's voice.
- Does the announcer sound sincere? Believable?
Most announcers have trained their voices for radio broadcasting. Successful radio announcers have a characteristic "edge" to their voices, so when they are on the radio, and listener is often busy- while doing something else (like driving or thinking about something else), the announcer's voice "edginess" causes the radio listener to draw their attention to what is being said on the radio. However, when you have that same "edge-style" spoken to you on an on-hold message, the caller typically gets annoyed by the obvious nature of the sales pitch. A truly effective on-hold message uses an announcer which sounds like they are speaking WITH you, not AT you. It's a subtle, but important distinction.
- How does the announcer vary his/her voice throughout the production?
People with good sounding voices are a dime a dozen. What differentiates the amateurs from the pros, is how the voice is used. For instance, when a person is talking to you in public- on the street, they often use subtle inflections to make their point to you. They are interpreting your body language and then making the appropriate inflections in order to compensate for your body language. One of the most difficult things to do while reading a script, is to utilize those same inflections which come so naturally in a live conversation. Without having the body language feedback mechanism to gauge the impact on your listener, most untrained announcers offer a dry and a "canned" sounding read. Again, another subtle, yet very important trait to look for in an announcer.
Not all on-hold messages are created equally. If you want a mediocre sounding message, there are vendors out there who create mediocre messages at a reasonably low price. Vendor's pricing of course, always reflects the costs of producing their product.
Our Company has a very talented and seasoned staff of announcers, all-digital recording studios, plus, we use the licensed music services of a high end production company. In other words: top quality. All this, and still we maintain very attractive pricing for all of our customers.
We often have our customers comment that their customer's responses to the Audio On-Hold message is very favorable and we have had some customers suggest that our programming is the best they have ever heard. But don't trust me, I'm just a sales guy, call me and ask for my references. Then our customers can tell you in their own words what it is like doing business with Audio On-Hold.
In any case, no matter who you choose to do your on-hold messaging, we appreciate the time you spent on our webpage and we wish you good luck in finding your next message on-hold vendor.