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Get the BEEP Off Your Telephone!

By Scott Greggory

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Need another reason to use On Hold Marketing?

Consider this: our brains can’t quite grasp the beeping sound that often replaces customized on hold content delivered by a human voice. That’s according to Anthony McGovern, a New York-based freelance science and technology writer.

In this article, McGovern examines why most people are so irritated by the beeps that come from microwave ovens, trucks in reverse, and certain telephone systems. In addition to their high-pitched, monotone nature, those artificial sounds end abruptly.

In contrast, natural, more-nuanced sounds gradually fade in volume. McGovern explains that that’s one factor our brains use to determine what made the sound. He writes that “the flat tone of a beep lacks that fadeaway, or any other small variations of a natural sound.”

He then quotes researcher Michael Shutz by adding, “Flat tones are basically incompatible with the physical reality of the natural world.”

What People Want to Hear

An unpublished study by Schutz showed that people react more positively to natural sounds.

Schutz displayed two different cell phones to study participants. Each phone played the same four tones when a call was missed. However, one phone generated flat, artificial tones, while the other phone used tones with a more natural decay. Almost 90% of the participants preferred the phone with the natural tones.

Don’t Create a Negative Environment

Are you subjecting your callers to those annoying beeps while they’re on hold? That tells your customers that you don’t care a whole lot about that particular experience with your company. And because those monotone beeps are so irritating, they can actually lengthen your callers’ perceived hold times.