April 08, 2009

Voice On-Hold for Cheap!

I recently struggled with an un-named company to try and get a voice on-hold system working in our office. For those who don't know, a voice on-hold system allows there to be background music or service/product announcements to be made over the phone while a person is put on-hold. It is a captive audience good for marketing purposes.

With this un-named company, we had to pay $499 to get it set up followed by a subscription of $89 per month thereafter to use a pre-recorded script made professionally by the company. There were several problems which I won't get into, but in the end, we cancelled the service.

Instead, we pursued a cheaper and just as good an option that works for a total one-time cost of only about $300!!!

Step 1: Get the equipment
Equipment needed are:
1) iPod nano off eBay for cost of $100.
2) iPod USB charger for cost of $40.
3) Audio cable from Radio Shack for cost of $5. It's the same cable used in cars to plug your portable music player into the car's radio system.

Step 2: Get professional recording of script you want people to hear when put on-hold
1) Goto www.Voice123.com
2) Hire someone from this website to do the recording and email you the .mp3 of the finished product. I paid about $150 for this job.

Click here to listen to the first 20 seconds of what this sounds like (without the music added yet). If you like her voice, please email her at aflosnik[at]hotmail[dot]com

Step 3: Add music to recorded script
1) Goto www.royaltyfreemusic.com and find music you like to add in the background to the recorded script. Or you can use your own music from iTunes (but make sure no copyright infringement).
2) Given I use a Mac, I used their free software, iMovie, that is included on all Macs. Using this program, I imported the recorded script. Than to a second track, I added the (royalty-free) music.
3) I duplicated this three times back to back to create a single "song" that lasted 12 minutes.
4) I exported this file as a .wav

Click here to listen to the first 20 seconds of the recording now with music. Pretty nice, eh?

Step 4: Import song into iPod
1) On my office computer I never use to download music, I installed iTunes (which is free from apple.com) and imported the .wav file.
2) I synchronized this one song into the iPod.
3) Under settings, I set the iPod to "repeat" the "song" indefinitely.
4) Hit play and the song which is the scipted file starts playing over and over and over again indefinitely.

Step 5: Connect iPod to your office phone system
1) Look for the Audio-In jack on your phone system's central hub. I included a picture below showing this as "EXT. MUSIC" which is what our office's system looks like.
2) Connect an audio cable from your iPod to this Audio-In jack on the phone system hub.
3) Plug the iPod to the USB charger so it will play forever (as long as there is power).

See Zoomed-Out picture with everything installed.

Make sure the iPod is playing in a loop and test it out!

That's it!!!

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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