Unavoidably, even the most well-trained, courteous phone staffer will need to put some calls on hold to deal with others. Studies show that two-thirds of telephone callers say being put on hold makes them very angry. The result: They put off calling again—sometimes forever—rather than risk getting mad again. So train all your staff to handle on-hold calls carefully. Follow these rules:
Say, “May I put you on hold for a moment?” not, “I have to put you on hold.” And, absolutely don’t allow anyone to brusquely announce, “Hold, please” without waiting for a reply.
Depending on what’s going on in the office, tell callers either “I’ll be right back” or “This will take some time.” The rule of thumb is not to leave a caller more than 30 seconds without speaking again, even if just to reassure the caller you haven’t forgotten him or her. If involved in a time-consuming task, get the caller’s name and number and call back within the hour.
It takes just seconds to say, “Thank you for your patience.”
If possible, tell the caller why she or he must hold; for example, “Mrs. Byer, Peggy is our insurance expert and she can answer your question better than I can. May I put you on hold a few moments while I get her to help you?”
No matter how short the wait, always apologize: “I’m sorry to keep you holding; how may I help you now?”
- Ask permission.
- Promise brevity.
- Be appreciative.
- Offer an explanation.
- Acknowledge the caller’s time.