Callers Hate the Word Transfer—And for Good Reason

Call center agents must master the art of transferring calls

Many callers shudder when they learn their call is about to be transferred. And they have good reason to be concerned. Too often a call transfer does not go well. Common complaints include being disconnected, being transferred to the wrong party, and worst of all, needing to repeat information.

It’s no wonder callers don’t want to be transferred. And this is the impetus for first call resolution (FCR), which negates the need to transfer callers. However, sometimes a call has to be transferred to serve the caller.

When this must occur, follow these guidelines to transfer calls with excellence:

Inform the Caller: First, let the caller know you need to transfer their call. The worst thing you can do is to transfer them without warning. Too often a caller thinks they were put on hold and is shocked to end up talking with a stranger. It’s best to develop a standard phrase to inform the caller they will be transferred. Fine-tune it, and practice it until you can deliver it smoothly.

Also, give callers the opportunity to object. If they don’t want to be transferred or don’t have the time, offer to take their callback information. Then have the appropriate party schedule a return call.

Provide Information: Next, give them the facts about the transfer. Tell them what department you’re redirecting them to and the name of the individual, if possible. Also, provide the caller with the department’s phone number or the individual’s direct line. Though they may not write it down, many will, and if the transfer doesn’t work and there’s a need to call back, they’ll be glad they have that number. Plus, by calling back directly, they save you and themselves time.

Advise the Caller: Let the caller know what will happen when you transfer them. Sometimes the unexpected can occur, even though it’s perfectly normal. Will they hear music on hold or will there be silence? If they will hear a click or two as the call switches, be sure to let them know. Else they might think they were disconnected even though they weren’t. Letting callers know what to expect helps keep them on the line and minimize frustration.

Thank the Caller: Be polite. Thank them for calling. Better yet thank them for their patience. Being courteous helps them be in a better frame of mind when the next person picks up the call. The opposite occurs if you’re rude. That makes the job that much harder for the next person. Don’t put someone in that position.

Make a Smooth Handoff: Although doing a blind transfer may save time, it’s also unprofessional. Don’t hit the transfer button and then disconnect yourself from the call. Stay on the line to introduce the caller to the next person. Use this time to share their name and key information they have already revealed. Don’t make them have to repeat anything. While some systems can transfer customer data along with the call, not all systems have this capability. It upsets callers if they need to give information a second time. Don’t make them have to do it.

Confirm the Transfer: The final step is to confirm that the transfer completed. Pressing the wrong key after introducing a caller could disconnect all parties. If this happens try to reach the caller, apologize for your mistake, and then transfer their call. Or give the caller’s contact information to the other person or department. Then they can call the customer, and there will be no need to transfer the call.

Although transferring a call should be a simple step, it’s complicated on many phone systems. First, master the mechanics of transferring a call. Then add these soft skills to round out the process. When you do this, you’ll have a better success rate, transfer callers with excellence, and minimize caller frustration.

Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center industry, which helps clients improve the effectiveness of their communications and grow their business. Contact Janet at or 800-901-7706.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.