I am just wondering what people's feelings are on this? And we can discuss this both from the person who is calling in's side and the people taking the call's side.

30 seconds, a minute?

Especially when a system doesn't kick you into voicemail or the person who transfers you never comes back on line to check on you.



WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

Interesting question. Answer - it depends.

Am I returning a call? Do I know why?
If I'm returning your call, and I don't know why, I ain't gonna hold long. Gosh, I must've been cut off. :)

Am I placing the call? Do I need a favor?
Okay, I'm probably holding a little longer.

Am I placed on hold by a receptionist?
Did I place the call or was it coming to me?

Wow, now that I've started there are a million different scenarios. I guess it boils down to how much I want the contact. If I'm on hold for longer than I like I can disconnect and send an email. This clearly isn't an urgent issue, get back to me when you have some time.

maura's picture
Training Badge

Maybe it comes back to the fact that my first "real" job was in customer support. But I don't like to put people on hold at all. If another call is coming in, it can go to voicemail. If I'm researching something for someone, and it is fast, I stay on the line with them and talk them through what I'm doing - if it will take more than, say, a minute, I let them know in advance so they can make the choice as to how to spend their time. To me, that's the respectful way to treat others and show them that you know their time is valuable.

I do make an exception for telemarketers - it doesn't matter who they ask for when I pick up - I say, "sure, hold one moment". Then I put the phone down and go about my business till they finally hang up. I figure as long as they are on hold with me, they're not calling YOU. :lol:

As far as me being on hold - I agree with Will - it depends how much I need to speak to whoever it is, and whether I have any other means of contact (email, etc). Usually, I don't wait long.

ccleveland's picture

For one-on-one conversations I try to avoid "hold" if at all possible. I almost never get put on hold at work, unless it's someone of my boss's level or higher, and even then it's very short and very rare.

Our home phone doesn't have Caller ID and doesn't roll over to voicemail, so I [u]sometimes[/u] find myself answering the "Call Waiting" very briefly just to let the other caller know we'll call them back.

The longest I was ever on hold was with Earthlink about 10 years ago, it was for 2 hours and 45 minutes. I called another Internet provider the next day.


jhack's picture

If we define "on hold" as you've already spoken to a person, and now they're asking you to wait....

On hold is bad. Period. It means someone else is more important than you, and they're not shy about saying so.

OK, if the receptionist asks you hold while s/he locates the person - then you should have the option of being transferred to voice mail or waiting for however long it might take. That's your choice.

But "please hold" and then silence... That's just not good, no matter how long it lasts.

And don't get me started on "customer service" putting me on hold.


MattJBeckwith's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

Ah, the dreaded question of hold. I run call centers for a living and have some pretty passionate thoughts about the use of hold.

Taken out of the call center context I will say this: hold is rude. If you call me on the phone I will not put you on hold. If my boss calls I will not put you on hold to get to him, if his boss calls me, you will still not get put on hold. If the CEO calls me and keeps hanging up and and calling me back because I won't pick up (because I am talking to you) I might have to beg you for forgiveness and ask to place you on hold for a couple of seconds.

Something better be on fire, that's all I have to say.

In the call center world, it is inevitable, don't do it to me without reason. Explain to me why and tell me you'll be gone for just a minute or thirty seconds and get back to me. Apathy and complacency plagues service providers all over the place. The hold button makes it worse.

MattJBeckwith's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

[quote="ccleveland"]The longest I was ever on hold was with Earthlink about 10 years ago, it was for 2 hours and 45 minutes. I called another Internet provider the next day.[/quote]
The first time I read this I actually read it as you were on hold for 10 years, 2 hours and 45 minutes. I got a chuckle out of that thought.

bmwNathan's picture

The better the person is treated when they do speak to someone, the longer they will wait to talk to them. I think most people don't mind waiting on hold for a couple of minutes if you keep them updated on what your working on for them. But if you have to keep someone on hold for more than 1-2 minutes, its probably something that you have to put some effort into. In which case taking their number down and calling them back would be a better idea I think.

ashdenver's picture

Our client service reps are so poorly trained before they're put on the floor that they will frequently place clients on hold for 10-15 mins while they track down answers and seem surprised that the caller has hung-up while they were researching things.

As a caller, 2 mins is about my threshhold - ESPECIALLY if the "hold music" is some person expounding upon the virtues of the company one is calling. Give me some music from the 60's or later (ideally bypassing the 70s entirely) and just let me zone out & multi-task while you do your thing. Hearing someone jabber in my ear, trying to sell me more stuff while I'm trying to get the stuff already sold to me straightened out, is just ANNOYING!

As a call-taker, I generally won't put someone on hold. "I need to research that; would it be okay if I called you back within the hour?" Or something similar.

tcomeau's picture
Training Badge

[quote="asteriskrntt1"]I am just wondering what people's feelings are on this? And we can discuss this both from the person who is calling in's side and the people taking the call's side.

To quote my favorite process analyst, "It depends."

If somebody calls me, I rarely put them on hold, including parking them for call waiting. There are only three numbers that I always answer (three urgent personal numbers). Everybody else I finish my conversation and then check my call log or voice mail. If I'm talking to somebody and need another resource, or to do research, I either talk them through what I'm doing or ask if I can call them back.

I don't insist on that, it's just the way I do it.

For being put on hold, it depends on 1) who I called, and 2) what else I'm doing.

If I call a colleague, it's okay for them to put me on hold for ten or so seconds to get rid of another call, or to tell me they'll call me back. If I'm on hold for 20 seconds after I first talk to them, I'll generally hang up and wait for them to contact me. Peers and bosses get "Sorry, I figured you'd gotten busy with the other call." My guys get a variant of "Can I give you some feedback?"

If I call a vendor or professional service (e.g. lawyer, doctor) and get screened by a human, I'll wait a minute or two (depending on how busy I am) before I get irritated, and two to five minutes before I hang up. I'll wait longer if I'm doing something else (like driving).

If I call a big-company service provider (utility, airline, etc.) I plan to be on hold for about half an hour, and use my "crazy person headset" (Bluetooth) so I can do other things while I'm waiting.

More important than being on hold with these guys is what happens while I'm on hold. The most annoying thing is when they alternate "Our call is very important to you" with loud, bad music. I once closed a credit card account solely on the basis of that on-hold experience.


juliahhavener's picture
Licensee Badge

In our call center, 30 seconds or less is the ideal. Sometimes this can be longer if an agent needs to have another department weigh in on something; in this case, they will usually offer to call the customer back because it may take several minutes to get what they need.

I very rarely put anyone on hold. If another call comes in while I'm on the phone and I'm not expecting an important call, I let it roll to voicemail. If I am expecting an important call, I generally refrain from placing calls or I warn the person of that. I think in the last year this has happened once.