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10 Call Waiting Blunders to Avoid if You Want to Keep Customers Happy

Paul Kilinga
10 Call Waiting Blunders To Avoid if You Want To Keep Customers Happy
A study conducted by Dimensional Research for Zendesk showed that people will not use a business for two whole years after having a bad customer experience. That’s two years of patronage (not to mention all the time you already invested nurturing that lead) down the drain because of poor customer service etiquette.

It might have been a rude customer service rep, a long hold time, or someone who just didn’t know what they were talking about. Either way, it’s a customer burned. 

While you may be shaking your head at these blundering saps, the truth is that most businesses make call answering and waiting mistakes more often than you’d wish to know. And those slip-ups can be costly indeed. 

Not convinced? Check out ten of the most common call waiting mistakes businesses make so you can teach your team how important it is to pay attention to the small details and get it right the first time around:

1. Forgetting to put them on hold

Probably the most classic call waiting mistake businesses make is not actually putting the caller on hold. You go on to complain about how asinine their questions are or to continue that hilarious story that happened last night with your boyfriend. Meanwhile, the customer is sitting on the line, hearing every word...and is not impressed.

  • How to avoid: Most VoIP phones come with a clear indicator on the phone when you’ve put someone on hold. For business’ sake, make sure that indicator light is flashing before you start your personal dialogue! Another feature that can truly save the day is an auto-attendant phone system that will automatically direct and transfer customers or take down their information for call-back via the auto-attendant VoIP. 

2. Forgetting you’ve put them on hold

On the other side of the spectrum, there’s an entirely different problem call centers face. Sometimes, businesses will put someone on hold...and forget all about them. We get it. The store gets busy; you are waiting on a superior for an answer, that Instagram post is too good to put down. But the customer is always right, so avoid this fatal error in business phone call protocol.

  • How to avoid: Use that same indicator light to remind yourself that there’s someone waiting (im)patiently for you to attend to them.

3. Not asking permission

“Can I put you on hold, dear?” is a common enough line from call centers to receptionists and all our favorite sitcoms. The problem comes when the one fielding the call doesn’t bother waiting around for a response. What if I just want to know when you’re closing? Or if you do online orders? Or if this is even the right store?! “Can I put you on hold?” when it’s a statement rather than a question, is a serious error that you need to train your employees to stop making now.

  • How to avoid: Train the employees who will answer the phone to be more present. Teach them how to actually listen to the conversation at hand, note what the caller is saying, and respond accordingly to the person on the other end of the line. I.e., don’t just go according to the script...which leads us to the next common mistake...

4. Informally Yours

Another mistake businesses often make is being too casual with their callers. Customers expect a certain level of professionalism from stores and services they want to patronize and are used to polite call center closing scripts. So, using an informal tone can be a real turn-off. 

  • How to avoid: Create a call protocol that all customer service personnel need to follow. Include things like avoiding nicknames for customers, using a professional greeting and mannerism throughout the call, maintaining a respectful tone, and never answering calls on speaker.

5. Not having a script 

First impressions are important, so you’d better make a good one. When you start off the conversation poorly, the entire call is doomed. Whether it’s a rushed initial greeting (yes?) or a complete lack of ability to direct the conversation properly, this can amount to some seriously negative customer experience points.  

  • How to avoid: Have a script agents can use to answer the phone with. Start with a professional and friendly greeting, and then continue with short, relevant, and courteous information that will be helpful for the caller and will let them know you’re interested in helping them. Also, have scripts for common questions that come up so your agents will sound professional and be able to answer immediately, providing a helpful and efficient customer experience. 

6. Going on autopilot

Of course, you don’t want the entire experience to be read off a paper. This often happens with new call agents, but it can happen to anyone who isn’t really present during the call. A customer calls with a question or issue, and rather than addressing what the caller said; the agent simply spews a generic response from a script. This type of autopilot mode makes customers want to pull their hair out and hang up on the spot, and rightly so. Don’t do this to anyone. Ever. 

  • How to avoid: Stick to the script...unless it doesn’t fit. Once again, you’ll need to be present and actually listen to what the caller is saying in order to respond with an appropriate response.

7. Script stuffing 

Once again, you don’t want to overload your agents or customers with TMI (too much information). Long scripts generally launch agents into autopilot mode. But callers want a quick relevant answer. So avoid overstuffing those scripts. KISS.

8. Not having information accessible to the call agents

You can’t possibly script every situation. So what’s a body to do when they are faced with a question that they don’t know the answer to immediately? Well, if you’re making common call waiting business mistakes, then your staff member is probably going to put the customer on hold, do a cursory search through the database, fiddle around with their phones, turn around to ask the guy behind him if they know the answer, and come back to the caller (hopefully!) with a negative on that request. So long wait time and no answer=poor customer experience.

  • How to avoid: When agents have to go off-script, it’s important that they have the information they need readily accessible so they can provide a quick and comprehensive answer. Make sure your agents have the necessary information to hand, including product and customer information and details.

9. Maintaining radio silence

Ever called a business only to be put on hold and met with dead silence. Hello? Am I still on hold? Or did you just hang up on me? What’s going on here? Silence is eerie, unsettling, and let’s face it, just downright boring. So why would your customers want to stay on the line when there’s dead air on the other side?

  • How to avoid: By all means, please put some noise in the background. Ideally, this should be some sort of advertisement for the other types of services you offer, friendly greetings from your members, or other interesting and/or important information your customers will appreciate hearing. If not, at least have some light, inoffensive, and easygoing music to play as a background while they wait to avoid waiting on hold awkwardly.

10. No follow-up

Finally, one of the worst things you can do as a business is to tell a customer that you’ll get back to them...and then not. A customer is waiting for a response. They have questions and want answers. What’s more, you’ve given them your word. And you’re just going to drop the conversation? Another type of missed follow-up situation is if a customer calls with a complaint or an issue. Not following up even if you’ve resolved the situation is a missed opportunity in customer-business relations. This is a sure fail when it comes to building bridges and solid relationships with your customers. What a loss! 

  • How to avoid: If a customer calls with a question you don’t have an immediate answer to, by all means, tell them you’ll be happy to get back to them with an answer. There’s nothing wrong with not having all the answers on the spot. But for the love of all things good, follow up on that conversation. Your reputation as a business depends on it. And if a customer has an issue or complaint, even if you’ve resolved it, a friendly follow-up email or message checking to make sure everything is alright is a great way to show your customers you really care.

What are Call Waiting Blunders?

Call Waiting blunders are the mistakes customer service agents make when speaking to prospects and clients on the phone or on video calls. Customers need attention, empathy, and informed solutions for whatever challenges they are facing. As such, they can’t be left waiting for someone to speak to them, worrying that an answer to their problem is not forthcoming, or simply with no idea what’s happening.

Some issues can be fixed with technology. The best VoIP providers offer valuable features that make it easier to treat customers well, such as call recording—to review customer queries before a callback—and automatic call distribution (ACD)—whereby calls are distributed to the correct extension. 

Providers like Vonage integrate with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, meaning you can save details about the call to make it easier to come back to a lead, while video and conferencing features enable remote teams to collaborate and provide solutions to businesses and their customers. For example, RingCentral enables you to pair several customer care agents to deliver the most relevant expert advice to a client. 

However, even if you have the top VoIP features available, they can’t simply fix employee call blunders. These may include being distracted during the call, having loud background noises, failing to contribute to the conversation, using low-quality audio and video tools, and speaking with the wrong tone. Or they might use improper call-holding methods, communicate monotonously, lack professionalism, and fail to follow up with clients to fix their problems.

How Waiting Blunders Are Hurting Your Business

Customers are the lifeblood of your business. Call waiting blunders can sink your company by pushing your clients and interested prospects away.  Just take a look at the following customer service statistics that highlight the consequences of making mistakes when talking to customers on the phone.

  • Your business’s customer service reputation will suffer. Six in ten consumers say they share their bad experiences with other people. This means they’re likely to post bad reviews about your business if there’s a poor level of customer support resources and assistance. A bad reputation guarantees that you’ll have to spend more on customer recruitment and marketing.
  • You will lose potential customers. 68% of consumers are willing to pay more for better customer service. If they feel your customer service team doesn’t care about their problems, they will go elsewhere.

  • Existing clients will start looking for an alternative service. Customers prefer to speak with a knowledgeable agent who will solve their problems in one sitting. 95% of consumers consider great customer service to be important for brand loyalty, and, worst, 61% of them would switch to a competitor after one bad experience. 

  • Sales and revenue will go down. 81% of consumers say a positive customer service experience increases their chances of making another purchase. If call-waiting blunders happen a lot, consumers will buy from a different brand.

As the quote attributed to Carl W. Buenher says, “They may forget what you said—but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Below, you’ll find a list of the top blunders to look out for to keep customers and prospects happy.

Paul Kilinga
Paul contributes to Top10.com as a technology and business writer. He has over 5+ years of experience crafting informative, research-driven articles for B2B and B2C audiences. Paul's work has appeared on such websites as TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide and Southeast Asia's Tech Collective in domains as diverse as cybersecurity, eCommerce and entrepreneurship, in addition to gracing the blogs of a slew of private B2B SaaS and tech start-ups.