equipment file formats message on hold

Message On Hold: Unicast or Multicast on my Phone System?

When evaluating the customer experience, It’s important to experience everything your callers do. When thinking about implementing Message on Hold services there are certain things you’ll want to consider. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of understanding the features and functionality of your phone system. Knowing the available settings and features that you can use will allow you to provide the best customer experience to your callers. One feature you’ll want to consider is if the Message on Hold has a unicast or multicast playback.

messageonholdphonesystemunicastmulticast.pngUnicast playback is a transmission of data to one output. How does that relate to your Message on Hold program and the caller experience? With this playback, on-hold programs will start at the beginning each time a caller is put on hold. Most VoIP systems and IP-hosted PBX systems utilize a unicast type of playback.

However, these days the preferred playback option is multicast.  It plays similar to that of a radio broadcast, transmitting data out to multiple users. When using a multicast playback, the program will play continuously, and when the caller is put in the hold queue they will hear whatever portion of the message playing at the time. All external Message on Hold equipment utilizes this playback option. Most phone systems do not offer this type of playback as an available feature. Only a select number of VoIP systems like Asterisk, Cisco, and OnSip offer a multicast on hold feature.

Another feature you’ll want to verify is if you have a shuffle or multiple playlist option for your on-hold system. VoIP systems like Vonage and Jive only offer a unicast option, but they have a unique feature for their on-hold options. Vonage and Jive allow for multiple audio files to be uploaded and shuffled during the on-hold experience. Now, shuffling is different from multicast and unicast playback. Shuffling allows for multiple, short audio files to be uploaded and played in the hold queue. Think of it as an iTunes shuffle for a playlist, but for your hold program. When a caller is put on hold it will shuffle the playlists so a caller will hear a different audio file when they are put on hold but that audio file they hear will start at the beginning each time.

When creating the ultimate customer experience, it’s best to review every option available. On-hold programs are a great tool, but to assure that tool works best, your phone vendor and Message on Hold vendor should be consulted.



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