Waiting on Hold: People Hate Elevator Music at Call Centers

March 31, 2015 3:37 PM

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Waiting on hold with an airline, cable provider or credit card company is a reliably irritating experience. So reliable, in fact, that researchers decided to study it—and might have come up with a fix. Playing pop music instead of instrumental elevator music may make callers less angry when someone finally answers, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

Elevator music, with an easy-listening melody that can repeat endlessly, invokes a feeling in dread in many of us. “You learn to associate that kind of background music with waiting or complaining—those things that normally happen when you call a call center,” says study author Karen Niven, a lectur...

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