An increase in phone calls usually means an increase in customers and potential clients, and that’s great news for any business! A spike in call volume may also mean you’ll need to place a few callers on hold. If you’re enjoying an influx of callers, here are a some tips for keeping callers happy even when the Hold key is involved:

Always ask first. When you’re on a call and three other lines light up, placing your caller on hold may not feel like an option. But where customer service is concerned, a polite question always beats a curt demand. Toss “Hold, please” and “I need to place you on hold” out the window, and go with “May I place you on hold for a moment?” If you ask nicely, callers will rarely say no! When your caller agrees, always show your appreciation with an emphatic “Thank you!” For bonus points, show you’re dedicated to making the interruption a quick one with a friendly phrase like “I’ll be back shortly.”

When a pause presents itself, take advantage. Strive to slip your “May I place you on hold for a moment?” into a natural conversational break. If you do need to interrupt your caller, include an apology and a quick explanation:

I apologize for my interruption! I have an incoming call. May I place you on hold for a moment?

Don’t leave a caller hanging for long. Try not to keep any caller on hold for more than a minute. If one call is particularly demanding of your attention, make an effort to at least check in with other callers when the chance presents itself:

Thank you so much for your patience! It’ll be just another moment.

Manners, manners, manners! Juggling multiple calls can be a stressful situation, but if callers sense your agitation, they’re more likely to feel agitated themselves. Keep your tone upbeat and warm, and pepper your conversations with Thank You’s. If you know a caller’s name, use it — it’s an easy way to show you’re on top of things:

Thank you so much for your patience, Henry!

Tip: Keep a notebook or word processing document ready, and note the names of callers next to their line numbers for easy reference.

Bonus: Skip Hold when you can. When you’re moving back and forth between multiple calls, the Hold key is a must. But during those glorious moments when you’ve got just one caller, resist the urge to place your caller on hold unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you need a moment to look up a bit of information, for example, try chatting with your caller while you do so:

Great! Thank you, Henry! I’ll look up your account now. How is your Monday going?

A little friendly conversation is a great connection-maker!

Photo via Flickr user raindog808