It still happens. It happened again today.
I was making a phone call to set up a dental appointment, and was put on hold at the clinic. I wasn’t surreptitiously ignored, but was given the verbal rote “Just a moment, please”. As usual, this proved to be an extremely inaccurate time frame, as I hung up unfulfilled after a couple of minutes. Fortunately for me, it wasn’t an urgent issue, so I could afford to be pro-active.
The point of concern and frustration is the still current, seemingly accepted attitude that saying “Just a moment” excuses any serious time bound responsibility to the caller. If the respondent gets back on the line within a minute or so, we somehow feel grateful; if the responded takes several minutes or more, it will somehow turn out that an important matter at the other end was more important than our call.
It’s not that it’s unreasonable to accept, even anticipate, delayed responses especially at certain times of the day. The argument here is that the caller will be treated with more intelligent respect if the assistant or whoever is taking our initial call uses a more valid, slightly only more wordy, response.
If the wait is going to be one or two minutes, then say so. Odds are I won’t be so flustered as to being unable to cope with that. Maybe I can use the time to quickly check out something on the web. And I will appreciate your effort to be accurate. Unless it’s the other person’s first week answering calls, he or she should have a ballpark idea how close to “a moment” is valid. By extension, if the wait is going to be over five minutes in all likelihood, please let me know, so I can act accordingly.
It’s true there are a number of institutions which have automated time estimations, which indeed helps. But for those many that don’t, such as smaller businesses, this is an opportunity being missed to show a little extra courtesy to clients and prospects.