No one wants to be placed on hold, but it does occur. There's no way around it. This happens in your office, clinic, or medical facility. It also happens at your answering service. The solution isn't to eliminate placing callers on hold—because that's impossible. The key is to use the right approach when it's necessary to push the hold button.
The Normal Way of Handling Calls Isn't the Best Way
Most answering services—just like most offices—use the "call-juggling" approach to handle more than one call at a time. With this method, the receptionist places caller number 1 on hold when line 2 rings. Then they put line 2 on hold and go back to line 1.
But what happens when a third call comes in? They put caller 1 on hold to answer number 3. Then they put number 3 on hold to go back to number 1, but before they do, they usually make a quick check on caller number 2 to make sure they're still there and not getting too frustrated.
Now, what was caller number 1 calling about? At about the time the receptionist remembers, she notices that caller number two has hung up, but then a fourth call rings in. She apologizes to caller number 1 before putting them on hold—again. Then she answers caller number 4 only to discover that it's caller number 2 who hung up and called back, hoping for more attention the second time.
Is your head swimming?
By now caller number 1 is frustrated. Caller number 3 thinks they've been forgotten, and caller number 4—who's really caller 2—is ready to resort to yelling to get the receptionist's attention.
That's the normal way most people handle phone calls. And it's mostly wrong. It irritates callers, is inefficient, and produces errors because of all the call juggling and getting people's stories mixed up. Nothing good comes from it.
An Enlightened Approach of Answering Calls Provides Better Outcomes
When it comes to the telephone, there's no way to answer calls and avoid placing callers on hold. However, when done right—using an enlightened approach to managing calls—most calls are never put on hold and those that are only wait for an average of thirty seconds or less.
This is the smart way of handling calls. Does your medical answering service do that? If not, it's time to find one that does.