In a Heartbeat

We spend a good amount of time on the phone, especially on hold. The words “We’ll be with you shortly” have invaded all of us and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

While I’ve never cherished the thought of being tossed into that “We’ll be with you shortly” black hole, my curiosity hear is more towards the words that they use to gage just how long they think they’re going to leave you hanging.

So I put together my thoughts of a few companies about words and phrases they like to use as we spend our lives on hold. We’ll just call them Company A, B & C but I will say that the last two are internet companies. Some of the hold times may vary depending on the level of inefficiency in your area.

Company A

The time spent actually talking with someone to address the issue was about 15 minutes and the call lasted an hour. The rest of the time was pleasantly spent on hold being forced to listen to some pretty crappy music.

I was on hold for 45 minutes and they seemed to like “We’ll be with you momentarily”, which is defined as “For a very short time” and an example would be “as he passed Jenny’s door, he paused momentarily”

So I guess they figure momentarily to be 45 minutes long. If that guy had paused “momentarily” for 45 minutes as he passed Jenny’s door, he would have freaked the shit out of Jenny.

Company B

Hold time here hovers around 30 minutes and the word “Shortly” is popular. Shortly means “In a short time; soon” as in “the new database will shortly be available for consultation”. First of all, who uses the word short to define shortly? It’s like asking someone what synopsis means and they tell you synopsis. They must have come up with that one on a Friday afternoon just before quitting time.  Anyway, according to these folks, “shortly” can vary from 30 to 40 minutes.

If the person that’s building that new database expects to finish it in 30 to 40 minutes, he could be viewed as a “Great Job!” kind of guy, but if it was supposed to be done yesterday, he’s the “It’s about time…” kind of guy that should probably consider employment elsewhere.  Unfortunately for Company B, they are the “It’s about time…” kind of guy…

While they have you dangling on hold, you listen to sales pitches for other services. Don’t they know that the more I hear those sales pitches, the less I want the service I “do” have?  

Company C

This place holds a very special place in my heart and they’re hold times can vary from 40 minutes to don’t hold your breath. More than anyone else, the thought of calling this company was stressful even before I picked up the phone. It brings me to a frame of mind similar to driving in the middle of nowhere, in the winter, at night, on a highway with no street lights, knowing that you’re going to run out of gas. Just like that…

They do like the word “Shortly” and on one of my calls, “shortly” meant  don’t hold your breath. The call lasted an hour and a half, most of that being on hold, and this person, Steve, was the third person I spoke to so I wasn’t on my best behavior. Steve had put me on hold once already to get some information and a few minutes later had to do it again. I was not happy about this and I guess the tone of my voice came across that way. The fact that I said I’m not happy about this probably helped too.

So Steve, sensing my frustration, tells me I apologize, Bob. I’ll be back “In a heartbeat”. Wow, I was impressed with Steve’s ability to sense my level of frustration. Ok…See you in a beat. 5 minutes later, he re-appears. While I can appreciate a good low heart rate, that’s a bit off the charts, Steve, plus I’d be too dead to enjoy it.

So these are only three out of millions of companies. There are some good ones with their service, but even they can’t keep you out of that black hole.

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