I received a script from a client before Christmas that they wrote. Each of the On Hold Messages was over 200 words long. You probably don’t deal in word-counts every day, but we do, so let us give you a tip regarding On Hold Messages.
First it’s important to understand how your On Hold Messages are heard. For the most part, your program plays continuously in the background, whether a caller is on hold or not (some phone systems do start from the beginning every time a caller is placed on hold, but for this discussion that distinction is not particularly important). So when you place a caller On Hold, he/she is going to hear your program wherever it is playing at that particular time. Could be between messages, could be in the middle of a message. And depending on the length of the hold time, he/she might hear one or two or three complete messages, or they might only hear part of one message.
Individual On Hold Messages that are 200 words long will easily run over a minute and a half long. Which means there’s over a minute from the beginning of the message to the end of the message. Most businesses we work with try to keep their hold times as short as possible. Which means the average caller would likely never hear one of these On Hold Messages from start to finish.
When we write On Hold Messages, we aim for 65-85 words, or about 18-25 seconds. Our 20 years of experience has shown that this time frame makes for the most effective messages. It gives your On Hold Messages the best chance of being heard in their entirety… the beginning, middle and end. When your callers ARE placed On Hold, and are hearing your On Hold Messages, you want them to get the complete story on each topic as often as possible. And you want to there to be a “call to action” wherever possible – usually “ask us to tell you more when we come on the line,” or “pick up a bag the next time you’re in the store.” But what you don’t want to have is On Hold Messages running close to two minutes long where your hold times are 30-45 seconds.
Oh, one more thing…remember we’re happy to do the writing for you. Don’t feel as though you have to do it yourself. It’s part of what we do every day.