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The Myth of Zero Hold Time

If you ask people what they’re playing for callers waiting on hold, you’ll hear (at least) one of a few answers:

  • Nothing
  • The Radio
  • I don’t know, my phone guy set it up
  • We don’t have hold time.

The first three…well, they’re a problem. If you have no idea what’s playing on hold, are ignoring that fact that you actually have customers on the line, wondering if you’ve pressed “Hold” or simply hung up, or think it’s legal to play the radio on hold, you should deal with this problem immediately. Your customers are probably very angry and annoyed. I would suggest asking them about it.

And as for the fourth…well, it’s probably just not true. 

Everyone Has Hold Time

Many businesses and calls centers claim that they have “zero hold time”, which means that they simply don’t put customers on hold. But I have a hard time believing it. At some point, every business puts someone on hold. Whether you’re transferring a caller from one representative to another or conferring with tech support to help solve a client’s problem, you’re definitely putting some calls on hold. 

Where does the myth come from?

And then there are the moments when you aren’t putting a caller on hold but definitely should be – like when you need to go ask someone else a question and put the phone on mute instead of on hold. So maybe it’s not “official” hold time, but the caller is still holding…and holding…and holding… in silence. It’s hold time, even if you call it by another name.

The above situation is AWFUL. It’s happened to me. It’s just not what you want. By keeping clients and prospects waiting on silence (even if they’re not on hold), you’re creating a situation in which they’re bored, disengaged, and impatient. Instead, take the time to actually put them on hold. When you do, make sure you have an excellent Message On Hold program playing – one that’s informative and entertaining. Your callers don’t like waiting in silence.

Most businesses are looking for ways to improve the customer experience, but not consider the captive potential of telephone on hold time. But think about it – If you take the time to keep customers happy, even while waiting on hold, you’ll already be ahead of the competition.


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