branding message on hold music

The Pros and Cons of Sound Effects in Message-On-Hold Programs 

Imagine you’ve called a spring water company and are patiently waiting on hold to speak with a customer service representative. As you close your eyes, the sound of flowing water surrounds you, as you’re mentally transported to a tranquil, babbling brook. Or perhaps you’re on hold with an automotive company and the familiar sound of screeching tires grabs your attention with an on-brand audio cue. 

Sound effects in Message-On-Hold (MOH) programs can be a powerful tool for engaging callers, but there’s also a downside to consider. After all, your callers are a captive audience, and an unexpected or misplaced sound effect could result in them feeling more startled, confused, or irritated, rather than intrigued. 

The Delicate Balance of Employing Sound Effects in Message-On-Hold 

Sound effects in MOH programs can be a double-edged sword. When used effectively, they can add interest, reinforce brand identity, and create a memorable experience for callers. However, depending on certain factors, they can quickly become a source of distraction or annoyance, detracting from the overall customer experience. 

Consider the case of the spring water company that wanted to incorporate the soothing sounds of a babbling brook into their MOH program. Due to limitations of their phone system’s capabilities, the audio effect ended up sounding more like static than a peaceful stream. Thus, what was intended to be a pleasant and engaging element adversely became a potential source of confusion and irritation for callers, and the concept had to be abandoned. 

On the other hand, an automotive company eager to leverage the potential power of sounds effects wanted to incorporate an invigorating audio cue of loud, screeching tires repeatedly throughout their MOH program. While their enthusiasm was commendable, frequent exposure to such an intense sound effect could quickly lead to caller fatigue. To alleviate a potentially negative customer experience, our audio production experts advised the company to employ the sound effect sparingly, playing it just once within the MOH program at an acceptable volume. The end result was a success – an engaging addition to the MOH, appreciated by both the company and its callers. 

Optimizing Sound Effects in Message-On-Hold 

Employing the power of sound effects in your MOH program is a novel approach to enhance the customer experience for your callers. But it’s important to first seek the advice of an experienced Message-On-Hold provider to ensure the risks don’t outweigh the rewards. 

At Holdcom, we understand the challenges businesses face with low-fidelity phone systems and the importance of delivering high-quality audio experiences. Our skilled production team specializes in overcoming audio limitations, ensuring your sound effects are optimized for maximum impact without compromising the caller experience. 

Through state-of-the-art audio production capabilities, we can enhance the quality of your sound effects, making them crisp, clear, and engaging. Our audio producers also take great care in determining the ideal placement and duration of these effects within your MOH program, ensuring a seamless integration that complements your messaging. 

The Importance of a Well-Written Script 

While sound effects can be a valuable addition to your MOH program, they should never overshadow your core messaging. That’s why it’s crucial to have a well-written script that captures your brand’s voice and provides callers with essential information about your business. 

At Holdcom, we value the art of crafting effective Message-On-Hold scripts. Our team of professional writers and voice artists collaborate to create MOH productions that not only educate callers about your products and services but also keep them engaged while they’re holding. 

When it comes to incorporating sound effects into your MOH, we follow best practices, which includes strategically placing audio cues to punctuate key points or transitions in your messaging, using the effects sparingly to avoid overwhelming callers, and maintaining a consistent volume level throughout the entire production. 

In Summary 

Sound effects in Message-On-Hold programs can be a powerful tool for maintaining your callers’ attention and reinforcing your brand identity. However, their use must be strategic and carefully considered to ensure a positive caller experience. If you’re contemplating adding sound effects to your MOH, your Message-On-Hold provider will help you assess the pros and cons and achieve the delicate balance between creativity and practicality. 

Ready to take your Message-On-Hold program to the next level? Contact us to learn how we can help you create a truly captivating audio experience for your callers. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Factors like audio quality, volume, repetition, and timing should be carefully considered when incorporating sound effects into MOH. 
  • Consult an experienced MOH provider to optimize sound effects and ensure they enhance rather than detract from the caller experience. 
  • Capabilities like audio quality enhancement, strategic placement, and volume control allow for sound effects to be integrated most effectively into MOH programs. 
  • While sound effects may complement the overall on-hold experience, they cannot replace the importance of a well-written MOH script
  • Following best practices for sound effects – such as including them sparingly, maintaining consistent volumes, and punctuating transitions effectively – can create an engaging, unobtrusive experience for callers. 
  • With the right approach, sound effects can upgrade your MOH to a branded, memorable interaction that keeps callers interested. 


Q: Are sound effects a must-have for an effective MOH program? 

A: Not necessarily. While sound effects can enhance engagement when used appropriately, the core messaging and production quality are most vital. Many companies forego sound effects, which are an optional creative element that, depending on certain factors, may or may not resonate with your callers. Before incorporating sound effects into your on-hold program, carefully evaluate how they may influence the overall caller experience. 

Q: Are there any sound effects that should absolutely be avoided for MOH usage?  

A: You’ll want to steer clear of anything confounding, disruptive, or jarring like loud industrial clanks, sirens, honking, etc. Avoid effects that could be perceived as alarming or unpleasant to your captive audience, as you don’t want callers disconnecting out of annoyance before a live agent is available to assist them. 

Q: How many times should sound effects be incorporated into a Message-On-Hold program?  

A: It’s best to use effects minimally and strategically, rather than frequently, throughout the on-hold messaging. Too much repetition can cause listener fatigue and irritation. Place them at key transition moments in the messaging and where they’ll have the greatest impact for branding purposes. 

Q: How can I ensure my desired sound effects will translate well on my phone system? 

A: Work with an experienced Message-On-Hold provider that has the expertise necessary to create high-quality audio productions. These experts can determine the ideal volume, duration, and placement of sound effects within your MOH program to ensure they complement your core messaging. 

Q: How can I avoid potential legal issues when using sound effects in my MOH program? 

A: It’s important to ensure you have proper licensing rights for any sound effects you want to incorporate. Using copyrighted audio material without permission can open you up to legal risks. Work with a reputable MOH provider that sources sound effects and production music from licensed libraries. They can also advise you on best practices around fair use and rights clearances for maximum protection. Some businesses opt to create custom, proprietary sound effects they fully own as well. The key is making sure you have the proper rights and licensing covered for any third-party audio assets utilized.