Tips For Improving What Your Customers Hear When They Call You

Quick Fixes

Dramatically improve what your customers hear when they call your organization.

Call in to your business and actively listen to every phrase, every word with fresh ears, just like a first time caller would.

When's the last time you updated the voice-over on your telephone system?

More than ever before your business is faced with tough challenges. Your costs are increasing. Competition within the marketplace is tightening. Profits are becoming more limited, and your vendors are providing less and less marketing support. Customers have grown more cautious of how and where they spend their money. 

Then, of course, there are all the advertising issues. Do people read the newspaper anymore? Which of your customers watch television? Is cable a wise investment? Are the yellow pages an effective use of your budget?
Will anyone see your outdoor ad -- and act on it? Will people respond to direct mail?

Every advertising or marketing dollar you spend has to produce results.
Results are dependent upon reaching a qualified audience with the right message.                                                             

Who is Your Qualified Audience?

People who call your business are your best prospects -- your most qualified audience. Advertising, your reputation, and even your 800 numbers are all designed to make your phone ring.

Call volume and heavy phone traffic are the natural by-products of your marketing effort. Your customers and prospects call to conduct business or obtain information about specific products and services. When they dial your number, you have their undivided attention.

Callers currently spend more time on hold than ever before. According to industry statistics, 70% of all business telephone calls are placed on hold or in a call center queue for an average of 45-60 seconds. That's an average of 7 out of every 10 calls. For many businesses, that adds up to hundreds of hours of advertising time per year. (Calculate your call volume to determine your on hold marketing potential.)                          

What Parts of Your Phone Greetings May Need Updating

Be sure to update your greetings as needed. If your work is seasonal or the services you provide are influenced by external factors, you might choose to update your messaging more frequently.

Take into account seasonal messages with appropriate background music. For instance, beach themed hits are appropriate for summer, while Christmas classics should be kept exclusively to the holiday season.

Let's dig a little deeper into each aspect of what callers hear.


When scripting your phone system, make sure that the words come across naturally and are in your company’s voice. Every brand has a personality. Yours is no different!

Express your brand voice using friendly, direct language in order to create a deeper connection with callers you engage on the phone. Make sure that every line of your script has a place to live. When scripting phone trees, you’ll need to create a variety of voice prompts -- each one needs to do something specific to help move your caller along on their journey with you.

Creating phone trees can be fun if you know where you’re going and what your customer goals are. Involve someone from your IT department in this activity so that they can let you know more about the sort of messages you need and how they fit into the telephone system. During your conversation with IT, ask what file format is required for your phone system. You’d be surprised!

Files for phone systems are unique and may only be able to play certain types of audio files. .ULAW is one such file format that you might hear about in telephony circles. Knowing this in advance is critical to your success.

Be flexible with your scripting and realize that it may need to change from time to time. This is particularly true for companies that are growing or do seasonal work. Remember that the copy you write today for your phone system has a shelf life. Some scripts last longer than others, but all companies need to update their phone systems every now and then.


How does your company sound?

Think of several adjectives having to do with tone of voice, attitude and disposition. You’ll want the recorded voice on the phone system to resemble the way that your team speaks with people live on a call. The voice you choose to represent your company needs to be an extension of your team.

When directing the voice artist on how to read your script, it helps to share information about what makes your company special. Listing your company values is also a good way to direct talent on how to read your script. This may go without saying, but you want the voice artist to resonate with your audience on a personal level. This person’s voice needs to be building trust and managing expectations for callers on the line.

Picking a voice depends largely on your brand, its personality and how you want to be perceived. Auditioning talent and having them read a portion of your script is one of the best ways to figure out who would best serve as your telephony voice. There’s nothing like hearing someone say your organization’s name and hearing them invite your customers into conversation. You can learn a lot by listening to samples, and in doing so, may finally find your voice (pun intended)!


Isn’t it amazing how powerful music can be? Just as certain scents have the ability to take you back to sometime in your past, music also triggers feelings and memories. The music you choose to accompany your telephone voice-over should evoke the feelings you want the caller to have.

You know your audience better than anyone else. What sort of music do they want to hear? How does that music work with the voice?

If you use popular songs or a company mix tape, you may run into issues around brand and messaging. Don’t underestimate the ability of lyrics in a song to overpower your script! Competition need not come from music if you use instrumental pieces instead of music with lyrics. That said, if you are featuring well known music or music with lyrics, pick music that plays to your strengths and embodies your brand message.

The singer’s voice, whether you realize it or not, becomes part of the narrative your caller on hold is hearing. Are those songs in line with the emotions you want your caller to feel? Are the words uplifting and encouraging? Is the music from a particular era, and if so, how will this impact your customers now and over time?

Scripting, vocal delivery and music hold a phone system together. While there's definitely technology involved, it merely acts as a structure or conduit for the real work of intentional relationship building to take place.

Reaching the Right Audience with The Right Message

The most popular rationale for developing an on hold marketing program is a desire to provide callers with relevant information regarding the nature of their call. The key word is relevant.

Your message on hold program can be a sales message, customer service message, an informational message -- or any combination you choose. On hold marketing is designed to turn telephone 'hold time' into a vital public relations tool.

Why Are On-Hold Messaging Programs Effect?

Let's explore some facts as to why a message on hold program functions as an extension of your existing advertising strategies by taking advantage of every customer contact.  

FACT:  On-Hold Messaging Reduces Hang-ups. 
Callers don't want to wait and will hang up if left on hold too long. 60 percent of business callers placed on-hold will hang up if left in silence.

FACT:  On-Hold Messaging is Preferred by Most Callers.
Callers want assistance. 80 percent of callers appreciate hearing information about a company while waiting, rather than hearing a radio station, sleepy music or silence. On-hold messaging provides helpful information.                

FACT:  On-Hold Messaging Can Influence Buying Decisions.
Don't miss out on the opportunity to sell your product or service through custom-produced on-hold messaging: 16 to 20 percent of callers have made purchases based on information they heard while on hold.                  

FACT:  Most Business Callers Are Placed On-Hold. 
83 percent of business callers experience some hold time. Two-thirds will be on-hold for 43 seconds or longer (long enough to hear worthwhile information or a pleasant greeting from on-hold messaging).                 

FACT:  Silence Makes On-Hold Time Seem Longer Than It Is! 
Callers who are subjected to silence while on-hold perceive their on-hold time to be three times longer than it actually is.   

FACT:  Callers Who Hang Up While On-Hold May Never Call Back. 
More than a third of all first-time callers who hang up while on-hold will never call back.


A message on hold program is the most cost effective marketing tool available today. Compared to other forms of media, on hold marketing is a sound investment for your business. Presenting unified marketing announcements to your best prospects. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week.



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