I was wondering if there are any current studies on Call On Hold messages. Today I had to call 3 different companies that put me on hold, with all of the experiences ranging from bad to nauseating, so I was wondering how is that possible? Isn't there a set of standards for this? Right off the bat I could think many improvements. Back in another life when I was Marketing Manager for an important bank, we used "on hold" as advertisement chances, we had some slight knowledge about the use of music, and simple stuff like that. And I'm talking almost 20 years ago!

So, maybe it was just my bad luck (although in my country is probably lack of effort or "the man"), but these were 3 of the biggest companies in South America, one of them from Europe, so it looks like something widespread.

So this triggered my curiosity in a great way. My questions are:

  • are there any studies on usability for "on hold", waiting calls, incoming calls and such ?
  • any CREDIBLE study about using these time spaces for advertising?
  • any studies about repetition of music in these messages?

Of course these studies could be specific or general, just anything that helps me understand what's going on in this area

  • 8
    This area has been and continues to be studied extensively. Here are a few examples - 1, 2,3,4,5, Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 13:43
  • thank you @user1757436 , this should have been an answer! :)
    – Devin
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 17:38
  • 2
    This site does not allow people post really short answers—no matter how useful—especially not when they include links. In a world of spam, you can probably imagine why. :)
    – JeromeR
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 5:57
  • I obviously mean to have it formatted as an answer
    – Devin
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 15:57
  • 2
    If @user1757436 doesn't want to post it as an answer, should Devin repost it as an answer to close the question out? This question keeps floating to the top for me as an unanswered question even though it has been answered :)
    – Clint
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 3:07

1 Answer 1


I would like to point out some usability studies and research work done in this field.

According to a UK-based survey, almost 70% of callers to businesses are put on hold for longer than one minute. Some significant numbers were also highlighted:

73% of the 2,000 consumers surveyed revealed they wanted to hear something more than beeps or silence when placed on hold.

Furthermore, 72 per cent of personal calls to businesses are made at home on a landline and 60% of consumers are sat in front of a computer while on the phone.

“These results offer vital considerations for any business looking to employ best practice in the handling of customer calls," Mark added.

“If 60% of callers are in front of a computer, a simple message directing inquiries towards a company’s website could prove particularly effective."

A social sentiment analysis was done on Twitter to understand what customers really think of "Music on hold". While most people hate this music, only a few callers prefer silence as also indicated in the UK-based study. Suggestions have also been given to choose the right music on hold. I am quoting some of the important ones that also talk about advertisements during calls on-hold:

Think about the music that best represents your brand and how you want your customer to feel when they talk to your operators. When a person is relaxed, the heart beats at around 80bpm – so music with the same rhythm will have the same calming effect; perfect for when you receive an irate caller.

Up to 20% of callers make buying decisions while on hold so use it as a valuable marketing opportunity. Callers waiting on hold are a captive audience and you’ve got the opportunity to tell them about your website, cross-sell new products, communicate your hours of operation and shout about your industry accolades. Whatever your company has to say, on-hold time is a great moment to say it.

Use the opportunity to reaffirm your brand. If you invest in TV or radio advertising, get the same artist to voice your on-hold messages. It’s about creating an audio brand that your callers can relate to, and helps you sound as good as you look.

There's also an interesting Wikipedia article about "Music on Hold". I found this fact particularly amazing:

As of 2010, the music-on-hold/message-on-hold business was a 100+ million dollar industry

Hope this helps!

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