How to Professionally Put a Caller on Hold

Business Etiquette of Telephone Techniques

••• man in office on the telephone. Credit: Erik Snyder / Getty Images

The last thing a caller wants to hear over the telephone is that they are going to be put on hold. When a caller is on hold, 60 seconds seems like an eternity. One way to break this perception of an unreasonable amount of time on hold is to program your phone system to play music and/or informational messages about your company while the caller is waiting on the line for you.

7 on Hold Do's

  1. Do greet the caller politely or use your company standard greeting (i.e. "Thank you for calling. This is Jim Bucki. How may I help you?").
  2. Do wait for a pause in the conversation to tell them you are going to put them on hold.
  3. Explain the reason for putting them on hold.
  4. Tell them you will return to their call in a minute.
  5. Apologize for the inconvenience or thank the caller for holding when you return to the caller.
  6. Take the person's phone number and call them back if you will be more than 60 seconds away. from the phone or you need to put them on hold again.
  1. Do use the caller's name frequently to add a personal connection to the caller.

5 on Hold Don'ts

  1. Don't interrupt the call to put them on hold.
  2. Don't leave them on hold for more than a minute.
  3. Don't put them on hold multiple times in one call.
  4. Don’t make them call you back; you call them back.
  5. Don't be rude—no matter how mad a customer may be.

2 Sample Lead-Ins to Put a Caller on Hold

  1. "Mr. Smith, can you please hold while I retrieve your file?" {pause for a response} "Thank you. I will be back in a minute." {caller on hold} "Thank you for holding Mr. Smith. I can now help you..."
  2. "Ms. Jones, I will check to see if Mr. Johnson is available to take your call. Can you please hold for a minute?" {pause for a response} "Thank you. I will be right back." {caller on hold} "I'm sorry for the inconvenience. Mr. Johnson is not available right now. May I have him call you back?"

Need to End the Call?

After you've picked up the phone there are several reasons that you may need to end a phone call professionally. The most common is the "long winded talker" who is consuming your time. Another reason, but less common is the caller that uses abusive, threatening or vulgar language. In this instance, you should consult your company's policy and procedures on how to handle this situation in order to avoid any legal ramifications. Learn ways to end a phone call professionally, here.

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