October 17, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Boston Music Hack Day: Finally, ‘On Hold’ Music You Might Actually Enjoy

Call Centers Suck creator Jeff Durand takes a quick break from coding at Boston Music Hack Day 2010.

Nobody enjoys waiting for a customer service representative to deign to answer their question, but too often, the music that accompanies the experience adds insult to injury. It’s simply impossible to choose “hold” music that everyone will enjoy, due to the wide variation in musical taste across the population.

The answer has arrived, for companies bold enough to implement Call Centers Suck — an app created by Musicxray CTO Jeff Durand at this year’s Boston Music Hack Day. Rather than subjecting every caller to the same music that most of them will not like, Call Centers Suck turns being on hold into a musical game of sorts, with a beneficial effect on their moods that could translate into smoother customer service for any company with a call center.

“Call centers are really boring and drive most people crazy,” explained Durand. “This project uses the Twilio VoIP service’s API to deliver a dynamic playlist and MP3(s) to the person on hold… After each song plays, the caller can rate the song, and The Echo Nest will find the next song based on the vote. When an agent becomes available, the call can be forwarded.”

In addition, Durand’s Call Centers Suck app stores a session key and the caller’s phone  number so that every time a customer gets placed on hold, the music starts right where it left off, and gradually gets smarter about what to play by tracking how the caller rates songs. If all call centers ran this app, you could pick up right where you left off, each time, regardless of which one you’re calling.

There’s no way this app can completely remove the annoyance of being placed on hold, but it should go a long way towards reducing that annoyance for companies that want happier customers calling their centers — which is all of them.