Friday, March 7, 2008

Please Hold...

Well, as I told you on Monday, Alexander Graham Bell received the first patent for the telephone on this date in 1876. I also said that I didn't think he'd be too thrilled with all of the "advancements" that have been made. One of the most hated advancements is; "Please continue to hold for the next available operator...."

NOOOO! Don't leave me on hold!!!

On-hold technology is a multi million dollar business. One of the bigger players in the marketplace is Audiomax. I found some interesting things on their website, including a tongue-in-cheek version of how on-hold came to be,

One of the statements I found was this tidbit;
"1994 National On-Hold month is adopted by Audiomax. This is a month to recognize everyone who has been placed “on-hold” after calling a place of business, and to honor those businesses who make this hold time more enjoyable by supplying informative messages and music for their callers waiting on-hold."

National On-Hold month? Yup apparently this is a recognized national observance. I found references to it on a number of websites that list all kinds of obscure holidays and celebrations. It is celebrated in the month of March to honour Mr. Bell and his first patent.

I found some interesting stats on regarding being On-Hold. Rather than listing those stats, on this page, I have added them as a comment to this post. They are an interesting read!

I, like millions of others hate being put on-hold, and am not impressed or softened by their tinny canned music and self promotion. Depending on the reason I called, I may hold for a few minutes but if it is a general inquiry, I rarely wait more than a minute. If they really want our business they need to answer our calls quickly.

Voice mail and automated system hell is probably just as despised as on-hold, as you are prompted through the various options only to be placed on-hold or have the system hang up on you when you enter an invalid option! AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

If, for some reason you were still using rotary phones as opposed to touch tone, the system would kick over to an operator after about a minute, however most systems have now been upgraded to hang up if no numbers are entered within a certain time or you are instructed to leave a message for a call back. You used to be able to get around the automated systems by pressing 0. This would alert the system that you needed assistance. Alas, this option rarely works anymore either as companies just aren't prepared to talk to every customer. They want our business and our money, just don't want to have to talk to us! There is a growing market for the secret codes to bypass the automation and two of the more popular sites can be found at

I really don't think Mr. Bell would be impressed. Where is Ernestine when you need her?

"One ringy dingy... two ringy dingy. Yes Hello ..Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?"


1 comment:

dnsyl57 said...

-More than 70% of business calls are placed on-hold for an average of 45 to 60 seconds.
-60% of the callers placed on-hold hang up and 30% of those that hang up never call back.
-94% of advertizing budgets are spent to induce a call and only 6% is spent to handle that call once it comes in,

North American Telecom:
-Callers greeted with silence on-hold will abandon their call in less than one minute.
-90% hang up in less than forty seconds.
-Callers greeted with music on-hold will stay on the line thirty seconds longer than with silence. Callers greeted with information on-hold will stay on the line for up to three minutes longer.

US West Communications: Providing information on-hold results in:
-A 40% increase in retention of callers on-hold.
-A 15% increase in inquiries.
-A 12% direct uncrease in requests for products and services mentioned on-hold.

Additional findings:

"the average person spends 1.2 years of their life on-hold" -Woman's World Magazine

"Executives spend 15 minutes a day or 60 hours a year on-hold"
-USA Today

"55 seconds is the national average hold time for companies with more than two telephone lines"
-CNN Survey

"Over 85% of callers prefer on-hold messages over silence" -Teleconnect Magazine

"1 in 5 respondants made a purchase or a decision based on information they heard while on-hold." Telemarketing Magazine

"Providing information on-hold results in a 45% increase in caller retention and a 20% increase in requests for additional products and services mentioned on-hold"
-Call Center Magazine