Starts & Stops

Tired of RMV hold music? Opt for a call-back

RMV officials are offering customers the option of waiting for a call-back on the phone.
RMV officials are offering customers the option of waiting for a call-back on the phone.(David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe)

Fun fact: In December, the average wait time for Registry of Motor Vehicle customers dialing into the agency’s call center was 21 minutes and 21 seconds before getting a live representative on the line.

That’s a pretty serious chunk of time: Enough minutes to watch an entire episode of “Arrested Development” (fast-forwarding through the commercials and credits). Almost enough to get through one of Rachael Ray’s “30 Minute Meals.” Or to listen to a full one-third of the new Beyonce album.

The point is, there’s a lot you can do instead of listening to the hold music. And now, RMV officials wants to help you avoid that time suck: This week, they launched a “virtual hold” service that will allow customers to avoid waiting at the phone and instead opt to receive a return phone call from an RMV representative. Customers tap their telephone number into the system, are informed that they have been placed into a queue, then hang up. Before the end of the day, they receive a call back.

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“With the introduction of these new amenities, we are able to hear the customer’s needs and save them time by returning their call when a customer service agent is free,” newly appointed Registrar Celia Blue said in a statement.

The new technology was introduced on the RMV’s 857-DOT-8000 hotline on Monday — and 80 percent of people opted for the callback.

Customers won’t always have this option, though. An algorithm uses data on the number of callers in the queue, time of day, average call time, and staffing levels to determine whether a customer will be able to receive a return phone call before that day’s close of business. If the picture looks grim, the automatic computer message tells the caller that they’ll have to stay on the line.

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