Customer on Hold – Time to Get Your S**t Together!

I’ve just read a report that focused on how the need for speed is a key driver in the ever-changing face of the customer service game.

According to Forrester research (, 73% of people say that having their time valued is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with great service. No great surprise here as I doubt that any of us have escaped the frustration of being kept waiting, listening to mindless lift music or endless upselling sound-bites, whilst the agent on the end of the line attempts to find the information they need.

Indeed time spent on hold is such a huge irritation for customers there’s now a dedicated website that offers customers the opportunity to vent their frustrations online WHILST THEY’RE STILL HOLDING! Talk about real-time naming and shaming – the site even provides statistics on the worst offenders as well as the total number of complaints per day. This is one list you won’t want to appear in any time soon.

A quick look at the main culprits throws up few surprises – telecoms and broadband providers are well represented, airlines, utilities, financial services, holiday and travel – they’re all here. Even Apple managed 7th place in the list of worst offenders in the preceding 30 days when I viewed the site. Here’s just a few of the customer comments in the live feed;
I just wanted to add a line. I’ve been on hold for an hour and rerouted through automated system having to hold twice.
• Sitting on hold yet again so they can tell me to get them a serial number to a system that was destroyed years ago
• Thank you for keeping me on hold for 1hr 30mins already and STILL not answered! You have asked me to call you.
• Get your s**t together. I was on hold for 58 minutes for you to tell me you can’t figure out why I never received my card.

I still often wonder why these exceptionally well-resourced organisations continue to struggle with the simplest of customer service challenges – despite all of their human and technological resources there seems to be little apparent progress when it comes to delivering the basics. Now I’m sure there’s a whole battalion of very clever Heads of Customer Experience out there who will be able to counter this observation with compelling performance measures of their own but it’s the long-lasting feelings we generate in these situations that really count. The frequency and protesting nature of the contributions at is testament to that fact.

This leads me neatly to explore how we might increase our chances of creating a positive, memorable experience during each call we make or take. This time around we’re focused on, what we call, the WIIFY (What’s In It For You) technique – a great tool for maintaining positive rapport with your customer even when you have to ask to put them “on hold” or any other situation where you need something from them to help you do your job.

We’ve searched the library and found a short clip of Marie sharing her insights around the WIIFY – we think it’s a real gold nugget you’ll be able to quickly adapt into your daily conversations:

Try it and let us know how you get on – in the meantime Keep FIT.

Hello... I'm Marie Cross

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