8 Rules for an Effective On Hold Message Script

September 15th, 2017 | Carla Jerez | Communication | Blog Home
on hold message scripts
Note: This blog post was originally published on Nov. 20, 2015, and as it is one of our most popular posts, we have updated it to include the latest research, up-to-date statistics and best practices in this topic.

Mona Shaw was so livid, she took a hammer to her local Comcast office and smashed up computers and keyboards until her arrest.

What inspired such violence? Shaw had spent days grappling with inferior customer service, only to be left without Internet, television, or phone – and without any idea if or when these services would be reinstated.

Though her manner of getting attention was extreme, Shaw has become a sort of hero for frustrated customers everywhere. Because the truth is, while her actions may have been exceptional, her feelings weren’t. 68% of those surveyed in the 2013 Customer Rage Study said that they were very or extremely upset about how companies responded to their complaints – and putting customers on hold is a huge part of that.

When you have to put a customer on hold, you’re playing with fire. But what’s a live chat agent to do?

We often ask customers to hold so that we can better serve them – but how can you do that without inspiring livid rage within them?

Customers Hate Being on Hold

on hold message scripts

The best option is clearly to avoid putting a customer on hold to begin with, but this isn’t always an option. If you are using a live chat script, you may find that you can respond efficiently and multi-task, preventing the need to officially put a customer on hold.

Only bring attention to a hold when:

  • You are making a transfer
  • You must leave your station
  • You need to exit the chat for unforeseen issues
  • You are working on a process that is going to take a few minutes

But no matter what, refuse your urge to use distastefully curt phrases like “please hold” and “one moment.” You should always use custom on hold messages, not trite and irritating ones.

Before putting a customer on hold, make sure you have a proper hold procedure in place. A balanced and effective hold request has the following anatomy:

  • Apology
  • Inform
  • Ask for Permission
  • Use Fresh Word Choice
  • Check in with the Customer
  • Give the Customer an Email Alert Option
  • Thank the Customer
  • Use A Fantastic Script
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Apologize

Always start your hold request with an apology. There’s no reason not to, and it makes a huge difference in how customers feel about your service. It lets the customer know that while a hold might be necessary to get the work done, it’s not your preferred method of servicing her.

According the Rage Study mentioned above, 76% of complainants surveyed wanted an apology from offending companies, but only 32% got one. You can see how a simple apology can put you ahead of the customer service curve. If you are backed up with too many live chat requests, use the following on hold message samples:

We apologize, but all of our agents are currently assisting other customers. Please hold for the next available agent.
We’re sorry, but all of our agents are on the line with other customers at the moment. If you can hold for a couple minutes, we’ll contact you as soon as we’re able.

Inform

In the event that you are backed up with too many live chat requests, it is also important that you show your customers an estimated wait time. That way, your customers will know whether they can get up from the computer, grab a drink of water, or begin to engage with another window for the time being until an agent is available.

There’s no better way to frustrate a live chat customer than by having a long hold time, then disconnecting the chat when the customer does not respond right away.

Remember, part of the attractiveness of live chat is the ability to multitask while using it (according to a study by Econsultancy, 51% customers prefer live chat for this reason). By keeping your customers informed, they will have a realistic idea of how much time they have to wait, and won’t disappear on you, too.

Recommended for you: 6 Useful Examples of Apology Letters to Customers

Ask for Permission

If possible, ask the customer for permission and wait for a response. Try lines like:

Is it okay for me to put you on hold for just a moment?
It may take us a moment to review that information—may we put you on hold?

Additionally, it can be helpful to explain why you need to put a customer on hold. It helps the customer understand what you need to do in order to resolve the issue at hand, and makes them less likely to feel that you are simply incompetent. It’s especially important to detail why if you are going to take a long time. Remember, the concept of a “long time” is relative—for some people, 60 seconds is pushing it.

This can eventually help customers form proper expectations on how long they are going to wait to get a solution to their problems.

Use Fresh Word Choice

The word “hold” has so much negative baggage for customers, that just hearing it may inspire a groan. If you need to put a customer on hold in order to update their account, or finish processing their information, try addressing the need for hold in a fresh, not robotic way. Test out the following lines:

Bear with me for a moment while our system finishes processing your information.
Alright, this will only take a moment!

Give me just a moment while I update that for you!

Check in with the Customer

It’s important to check in with your customer so that she know you haven’t completely abandoned her. You’re at an advantage on the web, because at least she can surf around and look at other things instead of listening to irritating hold music. But don’t take this advantage for granted! Your customer may be on a time crunch, and may be trying to get certain issues resolved efficiently.

This is why it’s important to check in periodically to make sure that the customer knows you are working hard to resolve her issue. Check in every minute or two, unless you feel that the problem will take you longer than five minutes–then you should consider offering her an email alert.

Give the Customer an Email Alert Option

If you know that the issue will take a while to resolve (for example, maybe you need to speak to a supervisor who will be unavailable for a while), offer to email the customer when a resolution has been reached and she can resume speaking with a live chat agent.

This is essentially the live chat equivalent of calling a customer back. It’s a powerful move when you consider the fact that 63% of customers prefer a callback option to being placed on hold, according to research conducted by Software Advice.

Recommended for you: 5 Practical Tips for Better Email Writing with Ready to Use Examples

Thank the Customer

The power of gratitude is often undervalued. Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino, and Wharton School Professor Adam Grant, conducted an experiment on the power of gratitude. In the study, participants that were given a sincere thanks for their help in revising a cover letter were about twice as likely to help another person than those who received neutral feedback.

What Francesca says about the power of gratitude can easily be applied to a multitude of situations, including live chat:

“Receiving expressions of gratitude makes us feel a heightened sense of self-worth, and that in turn triggers other helpful behaviors toward both the person we are helping and other people, too.”

Always thank a customer for agreeing to go on hold. It’s a simple gesture, but a powerful one. It shows that you don’t take the customer’s time for granted, which is invaluable. Use the following lines to express gratitude:

Thank you very much for waiting, I’m very sorry for the delay!
Thanks for bearing with me! I’m sorry about the wait, but we’re ready to assist you.
Thank you for holding; we apologize about the wait!

Use a Fantastic Script

An easily overlooked solution is to have quality scripts that help you streamline the process of putting customers on hold. Scripts also enable you to check in on customers without distracting you from the task at hand.

Using an on hold message script can not only increase efficiency, but also reduce stress and raise team morale. Though it’s your responsibility as an agent to get a good sense of timing, you shouldn’t have to come up with every message on the spot.

What are some great hold messages that you can use in a script today? Share your answers with us in the comments below!

live chat scripts

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How to put these on-hold statements into your chatting? Our live chat scripts template provides you with the ready-to-use scripts that can avoid enraging your customers.

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About 

Carla Jerez is a senior content writer at Comm100. She has a degree in Creative Writing from Florida State University and has years' experience writing for the SaaS industry. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, traveling, or playing around on Photoshop. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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