July 9, 2013

What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

frequency of on-hold musicR.E.M. famously immortalized Dan Rather’s unfortunate interaction with two assailants in their 1994 song, “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” While no one is quite sure what those two people meant when they were attacking Rather, the question is a viable one for on-hold messages. The frequency with which you’re repeating your commercials can make a big impact on listeners, especially if your hold times tend to be longer.

Creating the right number of on-hold messages that rotate at the right frequency is an art. And it should be based on how long your customers are typically on hold. For instance, if they’re on hold 1–3 minutes, one cycle works; for 5–10 minutes, they’ll probably hear things two or three times.

There are, of course, pluses and minuses to having your information repeat during the call.

As a plus, it’s been clinically proven that people need to hear things a number of times before they stick. If they only hear a special promotion once while on hold, they may not remember it. By the third time, it will have more permanency.

On the flipside, a negative could be hearing the same message a number of times if it’s not compelling, and then you’re just going to annoy those same people to whom you’ve been trying to market. And if you’re only playing music, you want to be sure listeners aren’t hearing the same tune over and over.

While we’re on the subject, make sure that the messages you’re sharing follow a good pace. Typically, commercials are about 30 seconds, and they should only share one salient point per message. You can’t expect to get everything into half a minute unless you’re speaking too quickly for anyone to understand — and then the point will be missed anyway.

When you work with America On Hold, we take care of everything so you’ll never have to worry about the answer to the question, “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” You’ll just know it’s right.

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