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Easy On Hold Releases 1st Annual List Of Banished Message On Hold Phrases

hear-no-evilGot an ax handy? You’ll want one for your own message on hold script after you read Easy On Hold’s 1st Annual Banished Message On Hold Phrases List, in which we chop out all those cliches, syrupy apologies, cheesy phrases and the corporate speak from on hold marketing.

Our list was created in the spirit of Lake Superior State University’s annual banished words list published every New Year’s Day, featuring words and phrases, collected from all over the world, that are overused and tired, like ‘YOLO’ and ‘kick the can.’ We’re having some of our own fun with message on hold annoyances like “we’ll be with you momentarily” (c’mon, who says that?!). Read on and see if you’ve heard these phrases while you’ve been holding–or, egads, requested them in your own scripts (if so, stop it!). Enjoy…and please share!


1. “Your call is important to us.” Want to make your callers feel unimportant? Use this phrase. “If my call is so important, why am I still on hold?” goes the joke, yet so many on hold message writers — or their clients — want to drop in this one every few paragraphs to sound sincere. We believe their hearts are in the right place, but most callers don’t buy it. So instead, use the time to talk about how your products and services make your caller’s life better. After all, what they really want to know is, “what have you done for me lately?”

2. “We’re busy helping other callers. Please hold.” What your callers really hear: “We’re too busy to help you. You’ll have to wait your turn.” Using this phrase is indeed truthful, but not the best relationship-builder, especially if your call center is handling angry customers who want to be heard, and heard now. So make hold time about your caller, not you, by taking the advice of A North American Telecommunications Association study which found that callers who heard information while holding remained on hold up to three minutes longer. Hearing current and up-to-date information helps smaller companies seem bigger, and bigger companies sound more personal.

3. “We invite you to … (visit our website…stop by our office).” Good to have website followers. Good to have people come to your office. But if you were on the phone with a customer in person and you wanted them to go to the website, you wouldn’t say, “I invite you to visit our website.” It sounds overly polite and formal, which is why on hold messages have a bad rap as being cheesy. Instead, just say, “You’ll find great information online at www.yourwebsite.com.” Or, “We’re located at 1234 Anyplace Street in Anytown.” If they want to stop by, they won’t wait for an invitation.

4. “We’ll be with you momentarily.” This one is so obvious it needs no explanation. So promise you will never, ever, ever use this in your on hold scripts. Or ask for it to be used in your scripts. It’s just plain bad.

5. “We apologize for the delay.” Point #1: It seems that everyone, from Paula Deen to Charlie Sheen, is offering an apology of some sort these days. Politicians and celebrities, sports figures and even the IRS have bent over backwards to say they’re sorry. Apologies have lost their power. Point #2: This phrase was first dreamed up by a well-intentioned soul who imagined their callers hold on into infinity and who thought that, by apologizing every four sentences, the insult of being placed on hold would be diminished. But since many callers will hear this phrase just seconds after being put on hold, you’re apologizing for a delay that could be non-existent. So we’re back to the polite but fake on hold message all over again. Point #3: Don’t go negative, go positive. Provide information the caller will find interesting. The time will pass quickly and before you know it, you’re back on the line and they forgot they were ever on hold.

6. “Like us on Facebook!” We’ve all asked for likes on our Facebook pages and followers on Twitter. But do we really expect our callers to stop what they’re doing to rush to our social media pages to help us out? If your brand is well-loved, they just might. But if you’re still working on building that kind of following, try this tact instead: Give your callers the benefits of connecting with you socially, whether that’s on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or your website, such as Facebook-only contests. The likes, and the love, will follow. Plus, the better we all get at creatively and uniquely using our social pages, followers will find us any way.

7. Phone numbers. It’s an honest mistake clients make all the time: “Put our phone number in the script!” What they forget is that the caller already has the phone number. After all, that’s how they got on hold in the first place. Phone numbers in a phone on hold script–if it’s the one your caller just dialed, you’ll sound clueless. We hope you enjoyed our 1st Annual Banished Message On Hold Phrases List. We’ll be on the lookout for new additions next year.