In today’s age of immediate gratification, customers expect to be taken care of NOW. So when they call a company and are asked, “May I put you on hold?” or—worse—go straight into the hold system, their patience starts to wear thin. While callers may understand that a company is busy, they want to be acknowledged and cared for as if they’re the only person in the queue. Somehow, there has to be a happy medium.
One way to make sure that your customers feel valued when they work themselves into your hold system is with on-hold messages. You or your automated system may be telling them “Thank you for holding,” but if you don’t give them anything to hold onto, your words are meaningless. Instead of sending them into the phone abyss with silence or bad music, why not give them something a little more “meaty” by sharing with them a bit about your company’s services or alternative ways to reach your company?
Another way to increase your customer satisfaction while customers sit on the phone awaiting a representative is to be honest with them. Some companies have started telling callers their number in the queue (“There are three people ahead of you waiting to speak to a customer service representative. We appreciate your patience.”) or how long the wait will be (“We experience higher volumes of calls on Mondays and Fridays. You can expect your wait time to be 20–25 minutes.”). And then, most importantly, follow through! If you tell a caller on hold he can expect to speak to a real person in 20 minutes, be sure it doesn’t take 30.
Savvy customers will understand that good companies are going to take care of their callers, so just acknowledge them and provide value while they’re waiting. The rest will take care of itself.