by CIO Staff

What To Do While On Hold

Aug 01, 20053 mins

Companies are going “hold crazy,” excessively putting their customers and prospects on hold when they call.

But hold on! There are other aspects of being put on hold that can tend to drive stressed businesspeople and consumers over the edge. For example, the person who calls you and then puts you on hold while they deal with something or someone else.

Then there are the times when someone is talking to you and their cell phone rings and they take the call right in the middle of your conversation. Worse, they tell the caller to hold just a moment while they tell you they have to take this call. Implied? The caller counts, you don’t.

What about those times when you actually want someone to be put on hold? For example, when you are at the front desk checking into a hotel and the phone rings, and the agent serving you takes the phone call, helping another customer at a distance rather than you, standing directly in front of them. Again, the caller counts and you don’t.

While we can agree that many in business should practice better phone call etiquette, here are some ideas for what you what you can do when you are put on hold.

  • Never consider that making a particular phone call will be the only thing you are doing at the time. Mentally lower the priority of the call you are making by assuring it is a secondary action. For example, you might plan an on-hold call while you are drafting a memo, writing a letter or catching up on e-mail.
  • Use the on-hold time to do paperwork you have to do anyway. If at home, hold time can be used to pay bills or even while watching a TV show.
  • Write an e-mail to the chief executive of the company that has you on hold, detailing what you are thinking of his or her company while you wait. Just keep writing whatever comes to mind as you wait. The CEO may never personally read the e-mail, but you’ll probably feel better venting your frustrations.

  • When dealing with a hold-crazy company, plan to start your call on the speakerphone or headset, so your arm won’t get tired holding the phone.
  • Have your assistant get a person on the phone for you, so that your assistant deals with the hold time. If you are the executive or manager, make sure you take time to thank your assistant for enduring the hold time. If you are the assistant, refer to the rule above.
  • As soon as the pre-recordings and options start, press “O,” though many businesses have disabled this feature, realizing that too many callers were trying to speak with real people more quickly.
  • While on hold, make a list of companies that annoy you by putting you on hold, allotting points for such items as amount of time on hold, number or complexity of options or length or content of the pre-recorded message. Keep the list handy every time you make a call so that you can give the worst offenders more points. Share your list with others and see how they compare.
  • Plan more than one call at a time, using a second line. Place the first call, get on hold, then proceed to the second call. Just toggle between the two companies you are trying to reach and deal with the one that answers. Presuming it is not incurring a long-distance charge to you, leave the other one on hold (they’d do the same to you).