Customer service hold messages are fine art, according to Simon Tierney – even in the likes of the White House.
In the third and final episode of Newstalk’s ‘Thank You for Holding’ series on Moncrieff, Simon investigated the messages customer service helplines leave while you’re put on hold.
Every respectable business leaves a message for callers waiting to receive help – including the White House in the US.
“When you call the White House or an institution like that, you don't expect anyone to pick up that phone,” he said.
“[But] the first time I rang, they picked up and they said, ‘Hello, White House’, and I was like a deer caught in headlights and I just immediately hung up.”
Simon rang the White House once again to see what message they leave their callers.
“This time, I didn't call the switchboard and I called the comment line, which is slightly different,” he explained.
“[The message said], ‘Thank you for calling the White House comment line. The office is currently closed. If your comment is important to the President, please call back between the hours of 11am and 3pm. Eastern Standard Time, Tuesday through Thursday’.
“My comment is important to the President, but only between the hours of 11am and 3pm from Tuesday to Thursday.”
The 'Holdies' Awards
Many businesses take their hold messages extremely seriously, to the point where there are now national awards to honour the best of customer service.
“The 'Holdies’ happen every year,” Simon said. “These are the Marketing and Creative Excellence Awards, but they're colloquially known by us in the industry as the Holdies.
“There are five separate gongs for on-hold messaging each year.”
Any business can rise to the top of the Holdies (or the ‘Holdin’ Globes’, as one listener suggested) - including Price Pest Control in Columbus, Massachusetts.
“Please hold, we’ll be right with you,” the message begins, as most on-hold messages do, to a background of soothing music.
The message, however, is then interrupted by someone that might make you pay more attention while you wait to have your call answered.
“Hey there, I’m Tommy – Tommy the Termite,” the message continues. “I'm just hanging out with a few 100,000 of my closest friends and family – come and join us.
“We’re having a feast – what's your fancy? There's window and doorframes, baseboards, floorboards...”
Simon said they “definitely earned that Holdie”, especially for such a small pest control company.
You can listen back here:
Main image: Newstalk Presenter Simon Tierney and a phone with the White House logo.