I’m sure you have one. You must have. Some service companies have quite distinctive hold music – it’s a branding mechanism. 

The types of music I’ve heard are:

  • Tunes from well-known TV shows
  • Classical harpsichord (that’s lazy!)
  • Radio stations
  • Popular songs mixed with info messages
  • Elevator music (= musical wallpaper)
  • Light jazz

Do they work? Do they make you feel time is moving more quickly? Does it shorten the time you’ve been on hold?

Perhaps not, according to Dean Olsher, a New York-based music therapist:

“I definitely think hold music has a negative effect on mental health. I argue the main torture results from repetition.” 

I’ve even heard laugh tracks when I’ve been on hold. Unfortunately, humour may not always suit the listener. It may even add to the frustration. If the humour is good, then listeners can be frustrated when they finally get through to an agent – mid joke. 

There are other options.

When I ring for help, and once I navigate my way through the options, it is inevitable that I’m put on hold. With much of the population working from home, others too are finding a reason to ring for help, or advice, or instruction. The helplines a backing up.

Online holding patterns are frustrating. But what about using the gentle spoken word to absorb the listening? Gentle recitation of a story can placate the wildest beasts. The important thing is not to let the customer go (or if they do go, they have decided to use the online options that should be available).

Have look at this option. Listing stuff. Random stuff.

Would that work for you, waiting to discuss your insurance claim? Waiting to ask about your delivery?

How about experiencing some ASMR effects?

Either of these options better than harpsichord music? As hold music?