The other day, I called tech support at one of the software companies we use at Holdcom; I had a few questions about information presented in our specific online portal. When I called, I waited on hold for less than 30 seconds, which was great. The tech support representative introduced himself and I explained my problem. He went into our portal to check it out for himself, and after I directed him through the menu to see where the problem was, he asked me to “Hold on a minute.”
“No problem,” I thought to myself, “I started listening to their podcast while on hold earlier, and wouldn’t mind listening some more.” And then the podcast never came. It wasn’t that I was put on hold in silence; rather the representative didn’t put me on hold at all. After about a minute of waiting in silence, he asked me another question. And again, while he was looking up the issue, he left me on the line in silence. He wasn’t talking to me, but I could hear background noise.
When he began speaking again, he had resolved the issue. I asked him one other question. He said, “Let me check that out, one minute.”
I responded, “It’s okay if you put me on actual hold, you know. I don’t mind. Waiting live on the line is kind of awkward.”
He said, “Ok,” but didn’t actually put me on hold.
What!? I’m baffled about this strategy. It seems that, to keep average hold time low, some call centers would rather have a caller remain on the line. While people do complain about waiting on hold, it’s not actually beneficial to customers to have them wait in silence on the line. In fact, staying on the line was awkward and uncomfortable. Once I asked the tech to put me on hold, and he didn't, I felt that he was completely without a care about my feelings as a customer. Knowing when to put callers on hold is part of proper telephone etiquette. If a caller is going to be waiting in silence for an extended period of time, even if you keep them on the line, you're not creating an ideal or optimized experience.
What do you think? What's your strategy for putting callers on hold? Any etiquette tips to share?