Join Fancy Mills for an in-depth discussion in this video Hold: The DATE process, part of IT Service Desk: Customer Service Fundamentals.
- Every organization should have specifics on how to place customers on hold. Here, we'll cover best practice steps using a simple technique called DATE. With DATE, we can break down our steps in a simple and easy to remember format. The DATE technique is a positive process that helps us overcome the reasons customers hate hold. Now to be clear, we're not setting these people up together. We are merely using a positive hold process. Let's start with the first step, D, describe.
Using our happiest tone, why we need to place our customers on hold and inform them of what we are going to do. Using action verbs can really help as it lets the customer know why we are taking action. This should also include a timeframe. - Brian, I'd like to place you on hold to call my lead technician about this. He's out in the field, but this should just take a couple minutes to contact him. - Avoid using words like moment, brief, just a sec, jiffy, or second.
Instead, give a more specific timeframe. Best practice is around two minutes, but you'll need to know your organization's standard timeframe. If it takes longer than two minutes, we'll need to check back with the customer to give them an update of what's going on. The next step is our A, acknowledge and confirm understanding. We want to confirm that the customer understands why we are placing them on hold, and also agrees to be placed on hold.
So what do we do when a customer says, "No, I don't want to hold"? Some options might include offering to contact them back during an agreed upon timeframe, or offering them a ticket number so that they can call back at a better time. Confirm what your organization's process is, as your options might differ. Now we need to perform the hold action, and watch our timeframe, our T step. Act as quickly as possible to minimize the customer's on hold time.
It might be necessary to update the customer on your progress. Let the customer know what's going on, and update your timeframe as necessary. - Hi Brian, I wanted to check back in with you to let you know I'm waiting for the vendor to check on the part. Can you continue to hold, or shall I contact you back? - I think I'm going to keep holding. - Okay, I'm going to place you back on hold for another two minutes. - Many companies have a specific time threshold to put customers on hold. Perhaps like two to three minutes.
What is your current timeframe? If you don't know, you'll want to ask your manager. When we have received our needed answer or information, we'll close out the whole process using our E step, expressing gratitude. Say thank you and personalize the contact with the customer's name or title. Using the customer's name is a great way to get their attention back, since they have been listening to hold music that's just fabulous. (soft music) - [Technician] Brian? - Yes? - Thank you for holding.
I have the information from the technician. - If the hold took longer than expected, offering a sincere apology is a great customer service technique. - Hi Brian, thank you for holding. I'm sorry that took longer than expected. I do have the information we are looking for. - Another situation to discuss is how to handle it when a customer places you on hold during the contact. Some organizations have a process that states a technician can hold for a specific amount of time, but other organizations will wait for the customer to return, depending on who or what they're supporting.
While we are waiting, this is a great opportunity to work on documentation, handle web tickets, or emails. By using the DATE process, we can make placing our customers on hold a less painful process.
First, Fancy provides guidance on how to use the right types of questions to gather information about an issue. Then, she explains how to professionally handle common customer service tasks, like escalating and transferring calls. Then, she shows how to hone interactions with customers by refining communications—acknowledging how tone and word choice can diffuse tension. She wraps up by covering common customer behavior scenarios in which the tools, techniques, and strategies from the course can be applied.
- Greeting and validating contacts
- Asking investigative and diagnostic questions
- Confirming and validating responses
- Reaching resolution and closure
- Using mute or hold on a call
- Escalating or transferring a call
- Building rapport over the phone, in writing, and face-to-face
- Refining word choice, style, and tone
- Managing conflict effectively
- Recovering unsatisfied customers
- Redirecting customers
- Identifying customer behavior