Thank you for calling. Please hold.

I am sure you have experienced it – you call a company and the receptionist picks up and says “Thank you for calling company XYZ. Please hold.” You barely get to mutter a word before you are put into the endless hold queue.

Unless it is something I need specifically from the company I’m calling (such as medical attention, etc.), I’ll normally hang up and deal with someone else if I’m told to “Please hold.” immediately after the phone is picked up.

This happens most frequently in relatively small offices like small doctor’s offices, law offices, local stores (florists, etc.), and organizations of that nature. It is something that such organizations really need to work on.

Ways to avoid the “Please hold” answer.

Have more receptionists. The easiest way to avoid the “Please hold” answer is to have more receptionists. This is also one of the more costly solutions. If you have more than 1 day per week where the receptionist picks up with a “Please hold” answer, it may be time to hire another one (at least for that day).

If the please hold days happens randomly, try and find any pattern you can. Do they happen in the afternoons? Mornings? Try and find some pattern and see if that helps.

What are the questions?
Are most people calling to ask for directions, make appointments, etc.? If they are calling for one particular purpose, see if you can make an “information only” extension in your PBX system that gives directions, states offices hours, etc.

Have others pitch in.
If the phones get busy at completely random times, make other people pitch in and help answer the phone. If the phones are busy enough, the doctor, lawyer, or head florist should be there and helping answer the phones.

Don’t be afraid of voicemail. Don’t be afraid to let your customers go to voicemail. Just state in the recording that if you aren’t available during normal business hours, it means that there is no one available to take your call and that you will call them back within 2 business hours. Remember, keep the time frames small.

Apologize. When the receptionist answers the phone and has to do the “Please hold” answer, instruct him or her to say “Company XYZ. Our phones are very busy right now, would you mind holding for a minute?” and give the customer time to answer. It’s better than just putting them on hold.

Have a hold queue. You can also have a wait queue. This won’t kill anybody. It won’t make anybody happy, but it won’t kill anyone. The phone will ring as representatives become available and is probably the second best (and more cost effective) way to deal with this problem. Before the hold queue, before to mention the company name.

And whatever you say, don’t say “Your call is important to us and we’ll be with you shortly.”

One Response to “Thank you for calling. Please hold.”

  1. CustomersAreAlways said:

    Jul 19, 06 at 1:26 am

    Tips to Avoid “Please Hold”…

    Douglas Hanna of Service Untitled has a great post titled "Thank you for calling. Please hold." which offers some tips to avoid the "Please Hold" answer.  Here’s a condensed version of his post.  Read his entire post here…