Please Hold

Alexander Graham Bell would be disappointed if he was alive today. His great invention, the telephone is today just a ‘phone.’

You can use your phone to take photos, shoot a movie, watch a baseball game, text another person on their phone, tweet, read a book, use it as a flashlight, play a video game, but talk to someone else by using it as a telephone?  Not normal!  No one uses a telephone anymore.  When you do, the recording you hear is something like the following:

  • “Your call is very important to us.”
  • “We apologize for the wait. All our representatives are assisting other customers.”
  • “Please continue to hold for the next available representative.”
  • “Your estimated wait time is 4 minutes.”
  • “Please listen carefully since our menu selections may have changed.”
  • “We are experiencing a large volume of calls . . ..”

These statements may have you assuming the company/organization/agency has numerous representatives on many phones helping other customers. Closer to the truth, there is one person answering the phone.  I know this to be true with a few state agencies, and with several nonprofit organizations.

I have been particularly interested in the technological advancement that will inform you about how long we may have to be on hold until an available representative will be able to assist us [“Your hold time is estimated to be 3 minutes”].

Handling time is the amount of time between when the system puts the customer on hold until the moment an agent becomes available (or the caller hangs up).

The average hold time is calculated by adding up all inbound customer call hold times and dividing that by the number of inbound customer calls answered by the agent or interactive voice response (IVR) system.

Whatever. I prefer they call me back. And that is an option with some systems, but not enough.

Most often I call a company or agency because their website is not clear about the information posted. How frustrating to hear a recording direct me to its website to find the information I am seeking. Ahhggg! I try to press “0” and see if something will happen, but what I often get is another recording, placing me farther down the queue.

Customer service over the telephone is regressing. No one wants to talk to you, anymore. Everyone is emailing, texting, and communicating with methods foreign to a few of us who lapsed in the process of keeping up with technology.

I received a telephone call from an old friend the other day. He does not have a cell phone, and never has. He uses a landline. He has never had a computer, has never played Atari/Frogger, Pacman, and has never used a tablet or any other technological instrument, and that may include a calculator. He has his television and telephone. He gets along just fine.

We talked about how we grew up with a phone on the wall and an operator who answered the telephone when the receiver was listed. I told him our number was 56A (a party line). All he remembered was moving a chair over to the telephone and standing on the chair. “Give me the Ryan’s,” was all he would say. That’s all anyone had to say; you didn’t need a number. Bonita, Stacia, Marg, and Louise, the operators, knew everyone in town.

Things are so much different now, and although I had been good at keeping up with technology, I fell behind a few years ago and I can’t seem to catch up. There are so many features of my phone that I don’t use. I’ve never watched a movie, although I did try to view a baseball game, once. I didn’t enjoy it because the reception was choppy and often blurry.

The camera feature has been used on my phone, and I should use it more. It’s one of the few apps that I may have conquered. But I still haven’t mastered answering the phone when it rings. If I’m wearing my hearing aids, I know when the phone rings, but only because I have a Bluetooth thingy built into the hearing aids. Of course, when the phone rings I have to find it because the instruction booklet claims I only need tap the side of my ear twice and it will automatically connect me to the caller. It has never worked that way. My ears hurt now.

Occasionally, the thought of going back to the landline or flip phone without texting ability becomes tempting.

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Fawkes-Lee & Ryan
2516 Lynner Dr.
Des Moines, IA 50310
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