When “Please Hold” Means “Goodbye” — Part I

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According to a recent article on, the phrase “your call is important to us, please continue to hold,” is really riling up American consumers and making them think twice about which services or products they’re investing in. Professor Mary Jo Bitner, executive director of the Center for Services Leadership at Arizona State University, explains, “When you put people on hold you are essentially telling them they’re not important and their business isn’t important,” she says, “That’s really aggravating to people, and it creates a negative impression that when they have the next opportunity to buy your product or service, they might think twice.”

The article cites a survey conducted by Fonolo, a Toronto-based communications company, which tracked every Twitter complaint this year that included the phrase “on hold with.” From the 600,000 tweets compiled, the company created a list of the Top 25 Worst Hold Time Offenders of 2016 and identified just why “please hold” is a game changer for customer loyalty.

Why It’s A Problem For Your Customers

Fonolo’s CEO Shai Berger explains that many companies don’t understand how much they’re hurting the customer experience by leaving customers on hold. Berger says, “The uncertainty of it is a real aggravating factor — not knowing how long will you be on hold — plus the fact that you’re stuck with the phone to your ear.”

Some of the tweets highlight the frustration factor:

Worst customer service ever. On hold 20 minutes for a simple question…”

“On hold with… billing for 45 minutes now. Would sure like to go to the bathroom and maybe get some lunch. Do better.”

“…an absolute nightmare… on hold for over 2 hours at this point. Book elsewhere people.”

Why It’s A Problem For Your Company

It used to be that companies could get away with putting their customers on hold because there wasn’t much recourse, aside from grumbling customers. But today, customers who get stuck on hold often vent their frustration on Facebook or Twitter.

“In the past, you could complain to people, but there was no impact to that,” Berger says. “Now people realize they have this soapbox, this public arena through Twitter and other social media, where they can complain for the first time and actually have some consequences. Companies can get a black eye and their brand can suffer when hold times get too long.”

What To Do

It’s unrealistic to expect every company to hire enough staff to manage phones without putting customers on hold, which is why more businesses today are partnering with voice answering services.

Voice answering services have the trained staff and advanced technology to handle any call volume, without leaving callers hanging on hold. Answering services act as a seamless extension of the business the customer is calling, so the customer usually isn’t even aware they’re speaking with someone outside of the office. All they know is that their call was answered quickly and courteously and that the company they’re calling cares enough to value their time and business. In today’s competitive marketplace, this the foundation to building customer loyalty.

If you’d like to learn more about how answering services can help you deliver prompt customer care and build loyalty, contact Voice Link of Columbus, Inc. Customized communication solutions, appointment scheduling, and secure HIPAA/HiTech messaging saves you time and money while improving customer relationships.

We offer month-to-month service agreements to meet the needs of any business regardless of size, 24/7, 365 days of the year. Our excellent reputation, expert staff, and state-of-the-art technology will exceed your expectations. Request information online or call us at (800) 262-2799 for a free consultation.

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