“Do unto others as you would prefer they do to thyself”, the professional’s guide to how to professionally put someone on hold.
There’s no bigger turn off for a customer than being placed on a hold line, void of conversation from a company representative. Especially when they aren’t given the proper “head’s up” that it’s happening.
Putting someone on hold isn’t just a job requirement… it’s an art form.
In fact, the way that you go about placing them on hold can make all the difference.
Here’s how to put someone on hold when another aspect of your job comes calling.
1. Give Reasoning Behind It
Nobody likes to be put on hold. Their time is precious and they may have only had a few moments to talk when they called in the first place.
Now that they finally have you on the phone and catering to their questions, they aren’t keen on letting you cut off the conversation to tend to someone else.
However, if they knew a bit more about the situation and why you need to place them on hold, then they’ll be more understanding.
Just saying “can I put you on hold?” is a close-ended question. They’ll either say “yes” or “no”, and typically they’ll lean towards the latter.
Explain the reason why you have to place them on hold, but always give the impression that it won’t take long.
For example, you’re talking to a customer when another customer, whose number you recognize, is calling in.
Simply say to the customer you’re talking to “I need to pick up this other call real quick to let them know I’ll call them back in a few minutes?”. It gives the reason and lets them know how quickly the conversation will end.
2. Apologize for the Inconvenience
Here’s a step that you can take both before and after you place the customer on hold.
No matter how frustrated the customer, an apology goes a long way with them. It shows them that you understand their frustration and didn’t intend to be the cause of it.
More importantly, it steers the conversation forward. As soon as you apologize, it’s back to business.
After you come back from placing them on hold, say something like “I’m sorry again for placing you on hold, thank you for waiting. Now, as we were discussing…”. From there you both can pick up right where you left off. No more explanation is needed.
3. Add Some Humor to It
As much as you’ll try to avoid ever putting your clients through this scenario, it’s bound to happen a time or two.
Everyone gets put on hold, it’s part of the business life. Your clients will come to understand that. You may as well use this situation as an opportunity to include some comedy.
Why not keep your callers entertained with a humorous on hold message while you tend to other guests? They may not mind having been put on hold at all, and it will add to the personability of your brand.
Place a bit of thought into the comedy on hold script that you draw up for your hold message. Whether it’s a list of funny dad jokes or just something to keep them intrigued as they wait.
The most important part to remember with this is to be yourself. Even though it’s for your business, customers will only find the message funny if you’re personable.
4. Input the Caller’s Name
While apologies and explanations go a long way and often keep a customer satisfied, there are some that will still be on edge.
They don’t just want you to apologize, you do that with every customer. They want you to know that they, as a specific client, are very upset with being placed on hold.
One of the best ways to build trust and connections is by using the caller’s name as frequently as possible. Say something like “Zach, can I place you on hold for a moment while I go retrieve your file?”.
It shows that you understand who you’re talking to and who you’re placing on hold.
It also makes them believe that your number one priority is getting back on the phone with them as soon as possible. In turn, they’ll remember your name as well.
5. Don’t Interrupt Them
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make in attempting to place someone on hold is interrupting them mid-sentence to do so.
Not only will they be frustrated that you’re placing them on hold, you’ve already upset them by cutting them off from the point they were making. You’ll lose credibility as a representative.
Also, it gives off the impression that the reason you’re placing them on hold is far more important than talking to them. Even if that’s not the case whatsoever.
Whatever your reasoning for placing them on hold, wait until the current caller finishes their point. When they do, acknowledge what they said, then use their first name and ask them if you may place them on hold for a minute.
6. Two Minute Rule
After you’ve placed the caller on hold, you should have a mental stopwatch going in your head.
As soon as the time starts getting close to two minutes, you need to check back up with the caller you placed on hold.
If the reason you placed them on hold seems like it’s going to take a bit longer than anticipated, let them know that you will call them back as soon as you’re finished.
How to Put Someone on Hold: It Takes Practice
As with any other aspect of business, it may take some time to find a perfect method of how to put someone on hold.
All you can do is be as polite and respectful as possible and get back to their call as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Be sure to read our other articles that pertain to both this topic and other topics just like it.