When you call someone at a call centre their ability to keep you informed as to what is happening is vital.

We have all been in the situation when a customer service advisor puts you on hold and you are simply left there hanging on.  This is even more disconcerting when you are on hold and there is no music.  Annoying though hold music often is, it is also quite reassuring as it lets you know that you are still connected to the number that you called.

What is even worse is when you are placed on hold but there is absolutely no reason given for this.  When this happens you have no idea how long the person will be or even if they have simply placed you on hold to go to the toilet or finish their lunch!!

There are correct procedures for dealing with people on hold, which can be implemented very easily.  Of course every company or organisation will have a slightly different approach to this but if you follow the procedures below you will go a long way towards dealing with your customers effectively when you need to put them on hold.
The following techniques are the ones that we recommend on our customer service training courses – they are not set in stone but provide a best practice guide:-

  1. Always keep your customer informed about why they are being put on hold i.e. I just need to look into your records / call another department etc
  2. Wherever possible give your customer an indication of how long they are likely to be on hold for.
  3. If you know that your organisation does not have hold music then warn your customer – this is especially important in modern times because a lot of people will call on their mobile and think they have been cut off due to bad reception
  4. Wherever possible avoid leaving your customer on hold for more than one minute at a time without updating them as to what is going on.
  5. If it looks like you are going to be longer than a few minutes offer the customer the option of continuing to hold or being called back.
  6. Always thank your customer for being on hold – more than once if possible.

If you follow the above rules of thumb then you will not go too far wrong.  Like everything in customer service it isn’t easy but it is simple.  The trick is not necessarily knowing what to do.  Like everything in life the trick is implementation and taking action.