People hanging on the telephone will stay on 20 per cent longer if they are met with music rather than voice messages.
Psychologists from Leicester and Durham universities tested 103 callers, leaving them on hold listening to the Beatles, Pan-pipe music or voice messages.
They found callers did not like voice messages, finding them aggressive or downmarket, and affecting how the caller viewed the supposed company concerned.
On the other hand, Beatles music was a firm favourite. The researchers found people prepared to hold for 20 per cent longer if they liked the music being played.
"Such music could prove to be a valuable asset to businesses," says Adrian North of Leicester University. "Psychologically, people find messages abrupt and impersonal. Music is easier on the ear, and well-chosen music can help shape a customer's image of the company called."