Hold that music!

How long now have companies had customer service lines? Fifty years? Eighty?

So why is it that they have not yet figured out hold music?

Anyone who’s calling customer service already has a problem. So a company should start the conversation pleasantly, right? But no.

We’re already irritated with the product, service or website when we pick up the phone to call customer service – and then we have to wade through a half-dozen levels of menus.

Or, the worst nightmare, a voice recognition system that doesn’t recognize any known English words and then tells you “Sorry you’re having trouble.”

You are then informed that your expected wait time is 35 minutes. Sure, I’ve got nothing better to do today, right? My money apparently isn’t valuable with this company, why would my time be?

Some data geek has calculated that each of us spends an average of 43 days of our precious life waiting on hold.

I just don’t get why customer service managers can’t arrange for the simplest thing to quell the anger of customers: soothing hold music.

But no. More often than not, the hold music just aggravates the customer further.

Apple – those tech geniuses we worship so much – for a long time had THE WORST hold music in the history of the world. The sound quality was so atrocious it made every note extremely painful to hear.

Imagine being one of the customer service reps who had to deal with customers who’d been listening to that for 35 minutes.

Two of the banks where I have accounts use a scratchy, blaringly toneless sound loop that is almost as bad as Apple’s, and it makes me want to shotgun-blast the phone.

Then there’s the cheapo companies that just play a local radio station as hold music. Hell on earth = being forced to listen to pop and techno.

Zendesk, which sells a customer service platform, saw this problem and held a contest asking people to choose the “best hold music” from a selection of three new pieces.

Below is the winning entry, and here’s the link to their blog post about it.

I like this. It’s simple, but not tedious.

How hard was that?

Today’s penny is a 1992. That’s the year Congress proclaimed the first full business week in October as Customer Service Week. For 2016, it’s Oct. 3-7.



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