The Fixers - Setting Caller Expectations

by Derek Coté

“Please continue to hold. Your call is very important to us.”

Are you kidding me?
When will my call be answered?
Should I start knitting a sweater?
Should I be writing my epitaph?

On average, people will remain on hold for about 57 seconds before hanging up and possibly defecting to another company. This number goes up slightly to 1 minute, 47 seconds for small businesses. This may be due to people empathizing with the challenges small businesses face. Whatever the case, the reality is that consumers have become very savvy. If they don’t get the information the need, they have the ability, and available resources, to find another option, fast.

Here The Fixers talk about managing caller expectations so that they don’t leave you for having to hold. Because let’s face it, sometimes you have no choice but to put a caller on hold or into a call queue.

Communicate Honestly and Consistently

When it comes to putting callers on hold, the old truism of ‘underpromise and overdeliver’ actually under delivers. In this case ‘over communication’ reigns supreme. Use positive language, be fair to your caller, and strive to keep, not exceed, a promise. If you exceed their expectations, great! However, nothing beats knowing that you are actually being attended to.

Your priority is to promote patience and make the caller as comfortable as possible. Consistency goes a long way in providing that comfort. Over time, repeat callers begin to learn what to expect if their experience is consistent every time they call. If you have to place a caller in a call queue, let them know their place in the queue. This way they can experience progress and estimate their wait based on the time it takes to count down from one place in the queue to another. Make sure you also give callers an option to break-out of the queue to talk to live person if they need to leave for some reason.

Another strategy is to let the caller know their approximate hold time. But don’t be vague—be accurate and keep your promise. If the promised wait time period comes to a close, continue to communicate with the caller and explain the situation. You can also leverage voicemail in the following ways:

– Record greetings with information on when to expect a return call.

– Let the caller know how voicemail will be handled.

– Standardize voicemail greetings for all staff fro consistency.

– Give callers a break-out option to speak with a live person.

If you’re experiencing issues with putting callers on hold, Ringfree can help. We work with all kinds of businesses, large and small, to communicate clearly with their customers every single day. With features like Call Queues, Voicemail-to-Email, and Parking Lot, we can reduce or eliminate caller anxiety when they don’t reach you directly.

The Fixers is a 90-second video series that addresses simple, yet common, oversights in setting up your VoIP system. With the proper optimizations in place, VoIP systems are highly capable of boosting productivity and enhancing a customer’s experience with your company and your brand.

Learn how switching to a hosted VoIP solution can boost customer retention.