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IT firms guilty of blasting customers with soul-numbing canned music

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Re: I'm with JP, disappointed with "the future"

The future is now, but it's all going wrong. -- The The, Perfect

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All of our advisors are down't pit at' moment

I quite enjoy PlusNet's Yorkshire-themed hold music. Human League, Pulp, Heaven 17, Robert Palmer... who knew he was from Batley?! They need to improve their Joe Cocker offering though.

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Re: All of our advisors are down't pit at' moment

Surely Yorkshire themed music should include some of our brass bands. Preferably playing Pratty Flowers.

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Hold Music

I use this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xywQQXrYi5s

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In the days before internet based call logging systems one IT company I had dealings with might have hour waits to get to the right engineer to deal with your problem. They had a web based system which had all the hold music listed, and you could vote for the tunes you wanted to hear!

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you could vote for the tunes you wanted to hear!

Since phones these days are qute smart, maybe someone should invent a protocol so that your phone gets to play its own(ers) preferred on-hold music/ radio play/ news reports/ whatever while waiting.

Also, maybe there's a new ElReg colum here - not "On Call", but "On Hold" :-)

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"Wait! Could you put me back on hold? I quite liked that tune!"

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Mushroom

Vomit

"Hearing is one of our most powerful emotional senses so the sounds customers hear when they call a business will create a long-lasting impression," added Williamson. "Every element of a music track, whether tempo, pitch or instrumentation, will stir different emotions"

What if I don't want to have my "emotions stirred" by this twunt and his manipulative earhole-pollution? Being on hold is empty time. I don't want to be "entertained" by it, I just want to switch off or do something else until a clear signal tells me I'm talking to a real person. And the last thing I want is artificially-matey, always female voices telling me how important my call is to them, or suggesting I piss off to their website instead. Answer to which is: if your website had the information I needed, why would I be putting myself through having to listen to your babbling?

Whatever happened, by the way, to that really useful feature hold systems used to have, where a voice would tell you "You are now number N in the queue"? Probably ousted by intrusive corporate-comms shite courtesy of PHMG and their like.

If I want to have my emotions stirred, I'll go to a concert or put on music I choose.

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Re: Vomit

I thought it was a legal requirement nowadays to tell you your place in the queue. Especially if you didn't phone a freephone number.

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Re: Vomit

Yes those messages telling you that you can do most things on their website are some of the most annoying, for obvious reasons.

We need a "me too" icon...or would that just encourage such non-insightful messages as this one?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Vomit

"Hearing is one of our most powerful emotional senses so the sounds customers hear when they call a business will create a long-lasting impression," added Williamson. "Every element of a music track, whether tempo, pitch or instrumentation, will stir different emotions"

Is that why I keep hearing the same bloody tune on Webex calls while waiting for the host to join?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Vomit

Yes those messages telling you that you can do most things on their website are some of the most annoying, for obvious reasons.

Especially when I'm calling my ISP with a connection or outage problem

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Re: Vomit

I thought it was a legal requirement nowadays to tell you your place in the queue. Especially if you didn't phone a freephone number

"Your current position in the queue is ... way down. Way way down."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Vomit

"I thought it was a legal requirement nowadays to tell you your place in the queue. Especially if you didn't phone a freephone number."

No such thing...sorry

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Canned music isn't that bad compared to the alternatives

Give me soul-numbing canned music any day rather than a loop of "Did you know you can LiveChat with support staff on our website?".

Yes Three, you bunch of shitheads, I'm looking at you.

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Mushroom

Re: Canned music isn't that bad compared to the alternatives

Or the even more infuriating...

"Did you know you log an incident or check for answers on our website at www....."

No I can't you fuckwits! I'm not phoning your broadband service desk because I'm bored and fancy killing 30 minutes of my time.

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Mushroom

Re: LiveChat with support staff

my arse.

What you actually get, is a connection to a keyword-bot with the intelligence of a flea.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: LiveChat with support staff

Fleas are actually intelligent when compared to most of the Indian based support these days.

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Re: LiveChat with support staff

Support in call centres in the West can be dire too, there's no need to single out India-based centres like that.

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Re: LiveChat with support staff

Virgin media, for example. Their Indian call centre is much better than the UK one.

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FAIL

Ahhh lovely...

...I'll just ask for £20,000 a year so I can play chart music.

Yes, it is that expensive.

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Re: Ahhh lovely...

Play current chart music at me and you are 100% guaranteed to lose my business!!!

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Re: Ahhh lovely...

Got it in a nutshell.

For other people, it might be Vivaldi that drives them nuts (or drives them to take their business elsewhere).

It's the idea that you can please everyone - in an area like music where tastes differ so much - that drives me nuts. That you can supposedly "induce the same emotions" in anyone who calls, in a way that's entirely under your cynical, LCD, corporate control.

This is the idea that should be killed with fire, shot, killed with fire again, shot again, stamped on, dipped in quicklime, buried in a lonely forest glade wrapped in an old carpet, and then nuked from orbit.

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Re: Ahhh lovely...

"This is the idea that should be killed with fire, shot, killed with fire again, shot again, stamped on, dipped in quicklime, buried in a lonely forest glade wrapped in an old carpet, and then nuked from orbit."

Sorry, you failed your BOFH. You forgot the electrocution and the fall from the 20th storey window into a skip in the car park.

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Re: Ahhh lovely...

Play current chart music at me and you are 100% guaranteed to lose my business!!!

Not *all* current chart music is unlistenable-to (and I say this as someone who has the favourite genres of Prog, Folk and Jazz). Good musicians can still get good, listenable stuff into the charts.

I will agree that a lot of it is vapid, auto-generated, marketing drivel ear-rot though.

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Re: Ahhh lovely...

"Not *all* current chart music is unlistenable-to...

I will agree that a lot of it is vapid, auto-generated, marketing drivel ear-rot though."

Unfortunately, it's the drivel that gets shunted off to hold music to earn the company a bit more dosh for trash that's unsaleable.

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Anonymous Coward

Chart music vs. classical

A lot of moronic outfits think they can escape PRS dues because classical music is out of copyright.

What they (choose to) forget is that there is a separate copyright on the performance ...

There appears to be enough bandwidth in voice connections for SoundHound to identify the performance and ...

https://www.prsformusic.com/

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FAIL

Hello hackers?

This kind of enforced "entertainment" really needs subversion. As I don't have the skillz, all I can do is suggest alternative "corporate edutainment" recordings:

1. The 5-year-old next door playing (I mean... attempting to play) "Indian Wardance", or whatever pre-Grade 1 piece it is he's been stuck on for the last 6 months. ("is he going to get that bit right this time? ... is he...? Wait for ittttt.... No, of course he isn't....).

2. Sounds of fire alarms, people running about screaming, followed by an out-of-breath voice shouting "OMG THE CALL CENTRE'S ON FIRE!!!! HELP CALL THE FIRE BRIGADE! I'M BURNINNGGGGG...."

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PHMG's study involved an "audit" of 127 companies (in other words ringing them up) and found that 65 per cent of IT firms still leave customers listening to nothing but generic music, while 14 per cent subject callers to beeps, 9 per cent leave them in silence and 3 per cent just ring at them.

Not exactly a huge number of companies to base your PR on.

"Can you imagine if a generic piece of music being inexpertly applied to a company's brand image, such as, say, Michael Bolton's Can I Touch You... There? The consequences could be disastrous."

I would assume you have some kind of control over what is played. If not then why would you have signed up to that in the first place.

Personally I don't care if it's silent, beeps, music, or PR drivel just don't leave me on hold for 30 minutes or more telling me my call is important to you every few seconds or telling me I can go on line to your crap website. The reason i'm calling is probably because you can't do what I want to do on your website.

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"Not exactly a huge number of companies to base your PR on."

It's the set-up to a sales pitch. Not science in any way.

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generic music is enough to keep callers entertained

That's odd where I used to work is was aimed at trying to calm irate customers down

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Years Ago

I had to ring Borland technical support - in either the states or Canada, I forget, it was years ago. They had a local radio station playing as their hold music. I was on hold for ages and gradually losing my temper when a mention of me waiting on the phone comes over the airwaves. One of the chaps in my office had found out the station and rung them. By all accounts is was quite common.

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Re: Years Ago

Radio on hold invariably involved a dirt cheap AM/FM transistor radio, always slightly off the exact frequency, sitting atop the telco box in the warehouse.

And nine times out of ten, instead of tuning to CBC (or BBC in the UK) they chose a local commercial radio station that played adverts for their competitor.

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What's the solution?

A completely silent call would be disconcerting, and unclear whether you were still connected.

Given that people's preferred music varies, what is the best option? A continual ring tone?

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Re: What's the solution?

An ELIZA chatbot with a soothing voice.

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Time Warner Cable

When on hold for TWC you would regularly hear Jackson Browne warn you "The Next Voice You Hear Will Be Your Own."

Great song, wrong message...

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Anonymous Coward

keep callers entertained

"IT firms believe generic music is enough to keep callers entertained"

WRONG. WRONG, WRONG and WRONG. I do not need to be 'entertained' while on hold - usually I am trying to get somethign else done while I wait, so I don't need the distraction of hold music of any kind. I only need something very basic to let me know I haven't lost the call.

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What hate is muzak. They take crappy pop songs then have some on do a cover of it. Worse they play crappy cover of a song you like. Oh and how many times can you listen to Marry had a little lamb on a kazoo.

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Best on-hold audio ever

There is one large biotech company that plays, apparently, a loop off a "nature sounds" compilation. Its 20 seconds of water splashing/distant thunder, and then a two second barrage of disproportionately loud duck quacking all but guaranteed to make you rip off your headset if you had it set to normal volume levels.

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Meh

What we need is a SILENCE option

The last thing I want to hear is some grating 'music' when I'm calling the 'Service' line.

An optional SILENCE option on the menu should be provided, along with a queue announcement indicating how many people ahead of you.

Even worse are those celco's who offer music instead of ringing tones which make it hard to know if you are actually ringing the number you dialled.

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Stop

Re: What we need is a SILENCE option

" along with a queue announcement indicating how many people ahead of you"

A decent call centre will NEVER, do that. It is pointless.

You are number 10 in the queue.

You are 5000 in the queue.

Which one would you hang up on?

You are number 10 in the queue.......1 person answering a call every 30 minutes.

You are 5000 in the queue......1000 agents handling a call every minute.

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Re: What we need is a SILENCE option

" along with a queue announcement indicating how many people ahead of you"

A decent call centre will NEVER, do that. It is pointless.

It isn't pointless. The point is that the message should be repeated and you can hear how fast it's going down. Your 1000 calls answered a minute will have a total going down by about 50 as fast as they can announce itt and you'll know you'll get to the front of the queue pretty soon.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What we need is a SILENCE option

I promise you it doesn't work. Having told endless call centre managers this, they will still think they no best and occasionally come up wit this bright idea.

Despite us having average speed to answer of less than 30 seconds, it's amazing how many people people drop of the phone after they are number 95 in the queue.

It usually takes less than a week to "reassess the situation".

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What happened to the other Al Reg music on hold article?

Music for cold callers (or something like that)

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Can be good

I worked at one of the big six energy companies and they had rather lovely, if a bit new-agey, music that had a long loop. We has customers asking us for it all the time. I believe we asked the group who produced this sort of music to create a track just for us, so we couldn't give customers a name or link to that specific music, but we did recommend the group.

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft

MS took the lead in this category. Back in the 90's I was stuck in their hold queue for some minor issue. Their music was decent, and then a pleasant sounding voice came on, radio DJ style. She told us what song we just heard, and then said something like: "Let's check out the current hold times, shall we? The Office suite hold time is currently estimated at 30 minutes, the SQL Server queue hold time is currently 90 minutes, the Visual Basic hold time is 18 minutes...".

I'm still astounded at the fact they hired someone to sit in a booth and play DJ for hold music.

Inspired me though, at our little regional ISP we set up an old Windows box with Winamp and a cheap soundcard for our music on hold. No repeat workdays for us, heavy on classic rock.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft

Please tell me you left the ads in!

Winamp, It really bites the llamas ass.

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Happy

"Hold" doesn't have to mean Purgatory

My company wants short messages on the Hold track, upcoming events and "did you know?" informative bits. I select instrumentals that are lighthearted without being obtrusive. I'm noted for my pleasant "airplane voice" and read the messages myself. Then I overlay them every 20-30 seconds on the background track, dropping the music volume so the vox doesn't have to be loud. Loops every four minutes or so.

I do my best to make HOLD a pleasant or neutral experience. We get compliments now and then. It's not difficult, and I wish more companies followed that simple philosophy.

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Re: "Hold" doesn't have to mean Purgatory

"I do my best to make HOLD a pleasant or neutral experience."

Hold is not an experience anyone wants. They want someone to answer the phone. If there aren't enough people to answer the phone quickly the hold queue will grow until it equilibrates; as it grows longer more people will abandon their calls and eventually the rate of drop out plus the rate of answer equals the number of new calls. And every dropped call means a customer or potential customer that your precious company has pissed off.

Your company might want short messages on your hold track, your callers don't, they just want their calls answered.

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The best hold music I ever heard...

...was a large music shop in Birmingham that had it's own tech music studio.

The hold music was unsigned artists demo's.

After being on hold for 5 minutes someone answered and I asked to be put back on hold, which he happily did. Once the track finished, he picked up again. I sort of apologised, admitting i really liked the track at which point he said it was a common occurrence and occasionally they were asked to put people on hold until they hung up.

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