Caller limbo

When a potential customer calls your business and is put on hold, what are they listening to? A radio station that fades in and out? Scratchy music that sounds like it’s coming out of a phonograph? Or the ultimate nightmare—silence.

Maybe it’s time to consider an upgrade of your customers’ on-hold time from listening to bad music to listening to a professional message.

“What a small business can gain by adding an on-hold product is credibility,” says Michael Sakakeeny, president of San Diego-based On-Hold Plus, a manufacturer of computer-based hold services. “When you make a call to a business, you may not think about it, but when you hear music on hold, you automatically think big business. If you’re talking to someone and you hear call waiting, you think home office.”

Thanks to technology, small businesses now have some of the same options once only available to large companies. A PC now handles the music and message that can project a big-company image.

Prior to the software Sakakeeny calls Holdware, anyone wanting a personalized or professional message would have to go to a production studio, decide on the music and the messages and then have them mixed. If you wanted to change it, or your message went out of date, you would incur the cost of having it completely redone.

“The software now lets the user mix and match or change their messages at will,” says Sakakeeny.

The product comes with eight “thank you for holding” messages, but businesses can also take the next step of customizing their system.

“You can start adding things like your company name that makes you sound bigger and better,” says Sakakeeny. “You can also make it real targeted with a marketing message. It really takes the company beyond just the image issue. If you can actually communicate a marketing message to a holding customer, that’s fantastic.”

Some businesses even overlook the fact that they have callers on hold. When a call is transferred between extensions, or the receptionist is paging someone, what is the caller hearing? With a marketing message, even if the person isn’t in, at least you’ve gotten a marketing message to them and made their time on hold seem shorter by giving them something to listen to and think about.

Companies can also use templates to add their name and information to take the hard part out of script writing. When finished, the user e-mails the message to On Hold Plus, which will professionally record the custom message and e-mail it back to you in two to three days. Once recorded, messages can be activated through the computer, so when a marketing message is no longer valid, it can easily be taken out. Users receive four personalized messages at no charge, with additional messages available at $25 each, or four for $60.

Holdware at a glance

  • Holdware is software for your PC that plays music and custom messages.
  • It helps give your business a big-company image.
  • Hold times seem shorter when listening to a marketing message rather than music.
  • If you’re using a radio station for your on-hold time, your holding customer may hear an ad from a competitor.
  • Messages can be as simple as “thank you for holding” to an announcement regarding a new product line.
  • No studio or product work is needed.
  • Holdware retails for $129.95, comes with 20 royalty-free music backgrounds, eight “thank you for holding” messages and four free custom messages.

For more information, call (800) 839-7277 or go to