Volume 92, Issue 75

Wednesday, February 10, 1999


SOGS questions fees

Controversial ruling overturned

Liberals offer solution

Social union agreement mobilizes

Music keeps people holding on

Investigations of thefts and alarms


Caught on campus

Music keeps people holding on

By Lindsay Isaac
Gazette Staff

Being put on hold is never enjoyable, but companies are discovering playing music on the phone can help to ease the wait.

A recent study by psychologist Adrian North at the University of Leicester in England, found music played for customers on hold helped a company to keep people on the phone 20 per cent longer than a plain recorded message or silence.

The participants were put on hold to either The Beatles, a cover band playing The Beatles or a spoken message. "People were found to respond more positively to the music than the voice message and the music played helped to convey a message that could help to increase business," North said.

"I chose The Beatles' music for the study as I was sure people would like it," North said. He added the type of music chosen is important, as the wrong selections can be worse than a spoken message or silence. "Simple, mainstream music is the best choice for professional businesses, who are now putting more money into their phone systems," North explained.

CHUM Satellite Services, a division of CHUM Limited, is a major provider of music and messages on hold for many companies. Companies can choose from 18 different stations and CHUM provides an advertisement-free music selection or will only play ads which pertain to the company, said Joan Nelson, executive assistant in sales and marketing at CHUM. CHUM will create a personal message for the company and mix it with music.

In London, the Westmount, Whiteoaks, Masonville Place and Galleria shopping malls are all CHUM clients. "Music does make people wait on the phone for longer, especially if they like the music," Nelson added. "Silence makes the person wonder if they have been disconnected." The most popular music selection by companies is the top 40 adult contemporary station.

Nelson said an independent study by Tech Data done for CHUM showed music on hold reduces hang-ups by 50 per cent. Also, 16.2 per cent of callers who hear music will make a purchase based on what they hear and silence makes 60 per cent of callers hang up and one third will not phone back.

The London Health Sciences Centre recently added CHUM services to their Westminster site phone lines, as it was already available on the university campus line.

"We added the music to the phone lines due to the complaints we were receiving," said Dave Crowley, coordinator for telecommunications or the hospital. "We are finding that people will wait more now that we have music."

Western Psychology professor Bill Roberts said he felt the study was valid and agreed with North that the music selection was important. "It would depend on the kind of music a person likes," Roberts said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999