At Your Service: Hung up on hold

Be mindful of customers’ time on the phone.
Russ Dantu
August 17, 2017
By Russ Dantu
Losing your phone is the worst. Here’s the story of my attempts to deal with a lost phone on a golfing trip.


I borrowed a phone from one of my buddies to call my cell phone service provider to see if they could put a block on my phone in the event someone had found it, but I still wanted to allow calls to go to voicemail. After trying to navigate through their 432 voice prompt options, I finally found a live voice. A lady with a thick, southern accent came on the line and said she would do her best to help me.

 As luck would have it, this lady was fairly new (can you hear my sarcasm?). She was honest with me by letting me know she hadn’t tried to block a phone from being used while still allowing it to receive voicemail, but figured it sounded logical so she put me on hold to find out what she could do. You know when you get an annoying tune in your head and it stays there all day until it drives you bonkers? I believe this company wanted to use the power of repetition to drive home their message. “Welcome to ABC Company! Your call is important to us. We’ll be right back to help you!” Do, do, da, da, doop, da doo...” This repeated itself about every ten seconds.

At 23 minutes and 18 seconds, she came back on and said, “Sorry for the wait. I am trying to find someone to help but no one here really knows what to do. ” Wow, that’s what I wanted to hear! Surely I am not the first person with this conundrum. With today’s technology, I thought this was a simple request. As I begged her not to leave me on hold for another 25 minutes because their little blurb and music was going to make me jump from the third floor balcony if she did, she promised me she would be back sooner than last time.

 She did keep her promise. Another 22 minutes and 37 seconds passed before she came back. This experience was trying my patience, to say the least. She said she had blocked anyone from using my phone and that if I found it, just phone back in and they could change it back. They weren’t able to allow calls to come through so if someone called to speak with me or leave a message, it would tell them, “The phone number you are calling is no longer in service.” Are you kidding me!? “No, no, no! Please reverse that now. I cannot have that happen as I may lose clients if they cannot get hold of me and it says that!”

“Sorry sir, my system has frozen. You’ll have to call back later. Is there anything else I can do for you today?” I have to let you know that after 55 minutes on the phone with this lady, there were lots of things I wanted to say to her. But I refrained.

 As I hung up, the gentleman in the next room had answered my phone which he had found in the grass outside. One of my buddies kept trying to call it while we were gone. He gave me the phone back and I thanked him profusely and offered to buy him a bottle for his kindness. Then I tried to phone out. As the customer service rep had promised, it was blocked and I could not call anyone or do anything with my phone.

 I borrowed a phone again and called back but was informed that all systems were now down for maintenance and wouldn’t be back up until 6 a.m. the next day. When I asked if he could take my information down and change this back once the system was running again, I was informed that they didn’t do things that way and I would have to call back the next day. The call then ended with, “Is there anything else I can do for you today?” Yep, I could think of many things but once again I refrained from mentioning any of them.

 Takeaways
  1. Never, ever leave a customer on hold for 25 minutes and never, ever take 55 minutes to solve an issue while you have someone waiting on the other end of the line...please!
  2. Bend the rules. Something as simple as saying, “Yes, I will have someone reverse this for you as soon as the system is back up” would have made a world of difference to me after a lengthy, traumatic experience and it wouldn’t have hurt them to do it.
  3. When dealing with customer issues, always put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if you were dealing with a problem and wanted help?

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