Business: Telephone: On Hold
Hands-free please hold   (0)  [vote for, against]
Allows the call center to alert you when the line is answered

When people get placed in a long 'please hold' line, many like to use the hands-free option to listen to the line while getting on with other work.

The problem is that when the call is actually answered, you are two rooms away or your hands are deep in the dish water. You hear "Hello? ... Hello?" just as you race for the line to pick it up.

A simple addition to a phone:

A button can put the line on hold. A message plays over and over: "Your caller is away from the phone. Press 2 to alert your caller". The phone detects if the dial tone for the number 2 is played down the line. When that happens the message stops repeating and the phone 'rings' -- both on the callers end and (as normal) heard on the receiver on the call center end.

You could, of course, change the message to match the awful hold messages you sometimes hear:

"You have been called by a valued customer. My call is important to you. I have been waiting in a priority queue. Press 2 to speak to the customer. We will endeavour to answer your call as soon as possible."

...but this would probably make an in-bound call center staffer just hang up.
-- not_only_but_also, Apr 21 2003

If they tell you to "Press 1 if you'd like to place an order", then press 1, even if you're calling to make a complaint or get tech support. You'll be talking to a human in no time.

Works great with cable TV.
-- phundug, Apr 22 2003

Its great that someone has come up with a plan to GET BACK at call-centerers (any such word?). I don't quite agree with the last sentence, but since it is in contrast with the rest of the passage, I'm looking on my screen for the words [VOTE FOR]. [ + ]
-- joker_of_the_deck, Apr 22 2003

I like this, especially the wording of the message in your next-to-last paragraph. +
-- krelnik, Apr 22 2003

As an in-bound call centre staffer, I can confirm that yes, I would indeed hang up, just as I do when I get the "hold" pips at the moment. In the time I spend waiting for one caller to finish making their sandwich, I could have helped two or three others. I can't speak for all of my fellow peons, but if I hear someone shouting, "Don't hang up!", I won't.

Joker's support for "getting back" at call-centerers (every call centre uses different nomenclature - "agent", "operator", "advisor" - although from experience, "stupid c*nt" and "if my baby dies, it's your fault" seem to be acceptable synonyms) implies he has either been heinously wronged by someone in a call centre (and I mean "Scott Tenorman Must Die" wronged), or a persecution complex.

We do not, contrary to popular opinion, sit around on our arses like a circle of grooming primates, nigh-oblivious to the ringing phones all around us, casting dice to see whether we will answer them. We sit on our arses like a barn of battery hens, while call after call is pumped into our heads, with nary a pause between them to catch our breath. And when you can't bring down the 10-minute queue of callers because each one insists on spending 6 minutes telling you they waited 20 minutes, you tend to get a tad tetchy. Hence this very rant.

I feel a bit better now.

As for ways to bypass the system, the best option is often to press nothing - the switchboard assumes you don't have a touch-tone phone, and puts you straight into the queue with the most people manning it.
-- friendlyfire, Apr 22 2003

Hey, nothing against the people who work in the call center! Most of them are really nice people, once you get through.

The problem is the company who says "Sure, we can cope with 20,000 calls a minute with only 20 staff."

That is why it really is amazing that call center agents/advisors stay so friendly when they have a queue of people waiting to speak to them!
-- not_only_but_also, Apr 22 2003

Perhaps what's needed is a convention by which the phone and electronic call center can communicate, so that when the caller reaches the front of the queue, the call center can signal his phone while connecting other callers to the operators until the person signals the phone that he's ready to talk.

This wouldn't work well at small call centers (where only one or two people are fielding calls) but at large ones which process 10 calls or more per minute, the wait for the caller once he returned to the phone would only be 6-10 seconds.
-- supercat, Apr 22 2003

random, halfbakery