Any time I call a service’s customer support line, I end up on hold for some period of time. When this happens, I am stuck listening to their awful music. There is no recourse. It’s just me and the song for eternity until the agent suddenly interrupts.

Listening to on-hold music is not a great experience. It’s there to signal that you’re still on the line. If there was silence, then people may assume the call got dropped. I suspect there’s also some effort to try and calm people before they speak to the agents.

Why does the on-hold music have to be so bad though? I assume it has to do with licensing. Paying to play The Beatles or U2 would significantly raise the servicing costs - and probably not affect satisfaction enough. A low-production orchestra loop costs nothing to play.

I wonder if offering better entertainment could produce worthwhile results. If people perceive time to pass faster, they won’t be as frustrated when the agent finally picks up. If something puts them in a good mood, they might come in nicer. If they start interacting with the agent on good terms, overall satisfaction should be higher!

Here are some ideas that could be tested out:

The key is to provide this entertainment at a low cost for it to make economic sense. All of these would cost way too much for a single business to offer, but maybe a company that offers this to 1000 support lines could exist. Something to think about.

As a final thought, there’s a lot to be said about properly setting expectations. If you tell someone that the wait time is 10 minutes, but then it takes 30 - there’s no way you can keep them happy. I appreciate any support line that surfaces this data to customers.