August 14, 2022

Archives for March 2022

“May I place you on hold…?”

You call a lawyer’s office, another claim unit or a medical practice.

You hear, “May I put you on hold?”

How often do we hear that question when we call someone with whom we need to speak? It is annoying because it often signals that the outfit you are calling is understaffed at the intake stage.

What is worse is when you are put on hold and stuck listening to Muzak interminably, wondering if anyone remembers you or has forgotten that you are camped on hold. They likely have no idea that you’ve been waiting on hold now for 17 minutes. You don’t even have the benefit of one of those recorded messages that tech companies play when you call customer support (sic): “Your estimated waiting time is XX minutes.”

At least that calibrates your expectations a bit, like the signs in front of popular rides at Disney theme parks which state, “30-Minute Wait from This Point.”

Camping on hold is not only frustrating, but it’s futile.

Further, I loathe the recordings that tell you that wait times are prolonged because “of an unusually high call volume.” When you consistently call, and invariably hear that pre-fab bleating message, you start thinking it can’t be “an unusually high call volume.” If it happens all the time – every time YOU call – then it’s no longer “unusual.” It’s the New Normal. Staff up for it!

But, like the airlines, it’s easier to tell customers that the blame lies with them (i.e., too many callers/customers or not getting to the airport early enough) than it is to hire enough staff to service incoming calls.

But, I digress.

Another circle of phone caller hell for claim professionals materializes when you are put on hold interminably – Perma-Hold — then hear a click and a dead line. Not only have you been put on hold, but now you have been cut off. So you must repeat the process again, start from scratch and go to the end of the queue.

Having fun yet?

Here are some responses and tactics when you are asked, “May I put you on hold?”

Answer #1. “No thanks…”

This is the Nancy Reagan, “Just say no” tactic. This is bold and entails risk. The other party may still put you on hold anyway. They may decide that you are a jerk. Chances are they are asking you only as a (pseudo) courtesy. They intend to make you sit in hold purgatory anyway. I confess I rarely say this, but I’m often tempted to. Try it and see what response you get.

Answer #2. “Yes – but just for a minute…”

This signals that you want the receptionist to check back with you promptly. Of course, whether they do so or not is another story. Part of the frustration of perma-hold is wondering, “Does anyone still remember that I’m here? Have I been cut off and will I have to call again and begin the process all over again?”

(I’m reminded of Lewis Grizzard’s book, When My True Love Returns from the Powder Room, will I be too Old to Care?)

No harm in asking.

So agree to be placed on hold, but attach a condition. State that you are willing to sit on hold IF they promise to check back with you in a minute. Good luck!

Answer #3. “ONLY if you check back with me every two minutes …”

This is a variation on #2. You want the person to check back with you periodically, hopefully to report the progress they are making in getting your question answered or your needs addressed.

Answer #4. Put your phone on SPEAKER mode and work on some small task while you wait.

This way, you can go about your business getting other work done while you are on hold. Yes, it is annoying listening to muzak, but at least this way you can work the keyboard, pull the next file to work or answer a question from the adjuster who has just stopped by your work station. The downside of this technique is that it requires that you stay within earshot of your phone receiver, lest you miss the other party when he or she comes back on the line. If they come back on line and you are gone, temporarily out of earshot or if you respond too slowly, they may infer that you have left, will hang up, in which case you will have to restart the process all over again.

So if you switch to speaker phone, just remember that you are on hold. You cannot get up and walk down the hall to compare notes with another adjuster. You can’t go to the break room to choose between M&M’s and crackers at the vending machine. You are anchored. Grounded.

Answer #5. Get a phone headset for that lets you be hands-free and do other things while waiting on hold. With a phone headset, you can be on hold, hands free. With a cordless headset, you are even free to head down the hall, check out the vending machine or stroll by the fax machine. Of course, you may get some funny looks from co-workers who are not used to seeing you walk around with a headset. The first time I did it, co-workers would playfully comment, “Hey Kevin – Beam me up!”

Others would ask, in false singsong accent, “Welcome to Dell Customer Support – may I help you?”

Getting through to the right person often helps investigate a claim, evaluate facts or negotiate case resolution. With so much business being done by phone these days – like it or hate it – the effective claims person must have an arsenal of tips and tricks to use to thwart delays and to minimize non-productive “on hold” time. Use these five tips to maximize your productivity when being put “on hold.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m on hold …


What tips or tricks have YOU used to minimize wasted time spent camping on hold? Please add comments below!

“Best Practices for Expert Witnesses” Podcast Interview with the Round Table Group

At the Round Table with Insurance Expert Kevin Quinley

I’m switching hats for a moment between my claim professional hat and my expert witness hat.

Recently, I was interviewed by the Round Table Group (see link above), an intermediary between clients (usually law firms) needing experts and matching them with specialists in a wide range of subject matter domains. Mine just happens to be insurance industry claim-handling.

In this discussion, I talk about
* what I wish I knew what I started down this path as an expert witness,
* how to prepare for depositions,
* how to write a bulletproof report,
* what questions to ask during the initial interview/engagement discussion and
* the best ways to market one’s expert witness practice.

I don’t claim a monopoly on insights with regard these topics, and in a limited time I tried to pack as many thoughts and insights as I could.


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