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How Answering Services Should Handle Holds


The reality is that most answering services do put a caller on hold from time to time, but read on to learn why and how it should be done.

Image of two people talking while a caller is on hold.

In an attempt to capture every call, many companies hire answering services to take their after-hours phone traffic.  Often, the expectation is that none of those calls will be placed on hold. If that is the case, then the sales representative that sold you on your account may have led you down a path which does not exist, at least in a shared call environment.  In reality, there is the chance that a call will be placed on hold from time to time in order to provide callers with more complete information.  Of course no one wants to hear that they have to be placed on hold, however, there are times it is unavoidable.  Remember, professionalism is the key in accomplishing a satisfying customer experience.

There are dos and don’ts that should be followed when you find it necessary to place a call on hold. The following components are necessary to achieve the proper hold.

  • Thank you for calling XYZ Company.
  • My name is Sally.
  • How can I help you?

And yes, all of these should be included before placing the call on hold. Once that’s accomplished you are free to request the hold.  The holding phraseology might be along these lines:

  • Mr. Smith, may I ask you to hold one moment please? (Pause and wait for a response)
  • After the request is explained briefly, place the call on hold stating you’ll return shortly.
  • When returning to the line, thank the caller for holding, then proceed with the conversation, message or connecting them to the person they requested.

The absolute worst thing that’s done placing a caller on hold is:

  • Interrupting the caller to put them on hold or slam them on hold.
  • Holds over 1 minute are a no-no.  To the caller it seems like an eternity; 30 seconds is a more appropriate length.
  • Multiple holds can be very frustrating to a caller, so try to finish your business with one hold request.
  • Never ever resort to rudeness. It is unprofessional and it does not serve you, your company, or your clients well.

At Sound Telecom, we answer 95% of our calls on the first, second or third ring. As a leading provider of telephone answering services, calls center services, and cloud base phone systems throughout the United States, we find it necessary to place calls on hold from time to time. The reason is always centered around serving the caller to the best of our abilities. We constantly strive to do so in a  professional, friendly and courteous manner.



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About Cheryl LaBaw

Cheryl L. LaBaw joined Sound Telecom as Director of Customer Relations in 2012. She is responsible for maintaining a high standard of service quality through ongoing monitoring and coaching of our call center agents. Prior to her arrival at Sound Telecom, Cheryl invested over 31 years in the customer care and service areas with United Airlines. She brings a wealth of knowledge and ideas from her experiences there in addition to working over 13 years in their call center. Cheryl’s skills in conflict resolution and customer satisfaction make her an excellent addition to the management team. As a Flight Attendant and Safety Professional she provided a more personal touch to customer concerns and safety issues. Mrs. LaBaw is passionate about health issues and has served her community by volunteering at Swedish Medical Center for three years in the Community Health Education Department. She also supports various youth organizations and child health and welfare organizations.