How To Make Being Placed On Hold Worthwhile

Each of us spends an inordinate amount of time on hold, reassured that when finally speak with someone that the call will be monitored for quality.

The offerings of every customer experience (CX) consultant on the planet include the ability to reduce waiting time; time the caller spends on hold.

But hold on Skippy, are there better ways to address waiting times, ways that add those minutes back into the caller’s day? Being placed on hold does not have to be a negative. It is only a negative if all you do during that time is wait.

What if you could put that time to good use? When I find myself running out of time to complete a project, when I need twenty minutes of uninterrupted time to work on the open items on my task list, I pick up the phone and call someone. Not because I want to talk to them; in fact, for just the opposite reason.

I know from experience, that when I call these firms, they will put me on hold. They provide me with I need the most at that very moment. Quite time. A time-out from the fires burning all around me. Who do I call? My two favorites are Comcast and Verizon, but I am usually rewarded with just as much time by calling my provider or payer.

A few months ago it occurred to me that I did not have to limit myself to just working during these time-outs. I could actually turn the time into more of a Zen experience. I tired counting backward from infinity; twice. Completed an entire volume of Sudoku puzzles. I wrote an algorithm to help me figure out how to fold a fitted sheet. (The first time I tried the algorithm I invented a new art form—cloth origami. My bed sheet-cum-swan is being exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art.)

But then I discovered how to turn those sixty-minute blocks of wait time into a fun activity, and that discovery proved to be so enjoyable that I am writing to share it with you.


We all get it. Most of it is nonsense, but there is a way to turn it into unparalleled entertainment. I discovered that certain types of spam emails are just begging for a response, if for no other reason than to mess with the mind of the person who emailed it. I am not referring to the emails telling me that I may have won a million dollars. I like the emails that tell me a relative died and left me his or her inheritance.

They usually begin like, “Dear Mr. Paul. My name is Felix Undambi. And I am the barrister of your late uncle Bill.”

Without reading the rest of Mr. Undambi’s email, I fire off a reply. “Thank you for contacting me. What happened to uncle Bill?”

“Dear Mr. Paul. Your uncle Bill was studying infectious diseases in Botswana, and he became very ill. I was with him, and his last wish was that I contact you, his favorite nephew.”

“That is great news,” I write.

“Dear Mr. Paul. I do not understand. He is dead.”

“I understand. But uncle Bill was the black sheep of our family. He never even finished high school, and yet he became a scientist! I thought he had moved to Iowa”

“Dear Mr. Paul. What is an Iowa? He was very proud of you, and he left his estate to you. Unfortunately, for me to send you the funds I am required to pay certain in-country taxes first. If you send me fifteen hundred dollars, I will pay for you”

“I understand. Pay the taxes. And then send me what’s left. But I don’t want to pay taxes in the US. So I want you to use my other email address.”

This is where you can get very creative with Mr. Undami depending on whose email address you decide to give him. I will leave the rest up to you.

Anyway, just an idea. If you want the fitted sheet algorithm let me know.

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