5 Tips for Placing Callers on Hold

5 Tips for Placing Callers on Hold

It’s critical for call center agents to exercise care before putting callers on hold.

Placing callers on hold sends a clear message that something else is more important than them and their call. That is why many callers hate being put on hold as much as being transferred. They fear what might occur, to get disconnected and forgotten, aside from being disrespected. While placing callers on hold cannot always be avoided, there are best practices for doing this optimally and minimizing caller offense and frustration.

In this blog, we will drive through the top 5 tips to enhance your caller experience by listening first, asking and not telling, respecting the caller’s answer, giving progress updates, and making a smooth hand-off.


1. Listen First: 

The most jarring and disrespectful thing you can do when answering a call is to say your greeting and immediately follow it with the phrase, “Please hold.” The caller is momentarily relieved that someone responded to their call, but their excitement quickly dissipates when they realize you don’t care about them or their reason for calling.

Maybe the request is simple, such as “Mary Smith, please,” or “I have a billing question.” With a few keystrokes and a professional hand-off, you can send them on their way to their desired destination without making them wait on hold for the several minutes it may take for you to get back to them.

Alternatively, the call could be urgent or even an emergency. Don’t automatically place someone on hold, for they may have a time-critical or life-threatening situation. Use putting callers on hold as your last resort. Listen to what they say, and then determine what you should do. That may involve putting them on hold or requiring you to do something else.

2. Ask, Don’t Tell: 

When placing callers on hold, even though you intend to do so, don’t tell them this is your plan; instead, obtain their permission. Asking, “May I place you on hold for a moment?” is much nicer than saying, “Please hold.” In most cases, the caller will allow you to place them on hold if you ask nicely.

3. Respect Their Answer:

Some callers, especially if they are patients calling a medical answering service, won’t grant your receptionist or agent their consent to place them on hold. This certainly puts you in a difficult situation, but since you asked and they declined, don’t go ahead and place them on hold. Perhaps their call is urgent, and time spent on hold might cause problems. Or maybe their cell phone battery is getting low, or they’re about to drive out of the coverage area. Again, a few minutes on hold could be detrimental.

Of course, they may have no legitimate reason for not giving you permission to place them on hold. If this is the case, explain why it’s important you do so. If the call must be transferred, you can’t accomplish that without putting them on hold for a moment. If you need to leave your workstation to look something up, placing them on hold will speed both you and them toward a resolution.

4. Give Progress Updates to Callers On Hold: 

Once you’ve asked for and received their approval to place them on hold, don’t leave them indefinitely. Give them progress updates if they’ll be on hold for over a minute or maybe two. Perhaps the person they want to talk to is still on another call, or maybe you haven’t completed researching their question. Let them know what is happening and that you’re working towards accomplishing what they want you to do.

Occasionally, when you go back to check, you’ll find they’ve hung up. At least you know they’re no longer waiting, and then you can move on to your next caller.

5. Make a Smooth Hand-Off: 

If you need to transfer their call to another person or department, putting them on hold is one step in that process. We already discussed how to transfer a call properly. As a review: Inform the caller you will transfer them, provide information about who you will connect them to, let them know how the transfer process works, thank them, make a smooth transfer, and confirm they are connected to the desired party.

Avoid Putting Callers On Hold – Hire a Professional Call Center 

When placing callers on hold, follow these five tips to use the hold button skillfully and improve caller satisfaction. When done properly, most callers will not object to being placed on hold and may even respect you for your professionalism.

At Call Center Sales Pro, we have helped many businesses from different industries enhance their customer experience. With our 40+ years of experience, we identify your needs and become a seamless extension of you. Learn more about our top-notch answering services and start delivering an exceptional customer experience today!