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Are You Losing Customers Because of Hold Times?

It happens to everyone. You phone a business and hear a polite recorded message telling you that all customer service representatives are assisting other people. You get put on hold with an estimated wait time of anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour or longer. Do you hang up, or do hang in there?

If long hold times cause you to give up on trying to reach a real person, you’re far from alone. Help Scout points out that, according to a 2011 American Express customer service survey, two of the phrases that customers least like to hear are:

  • “We’re sorry, but we’re experiencing unusually heavy call volumes. You can hold or try back at another time.”
  • “Your call is important to us. Please [continue] to hold.”

How does your business do with hold times? How can you reduce waiting?

How Long Is Too Long?

Various surveys have found some eye-opening numbers about hold times. The average customer will hang up after about two minutes of waiting to speak to a customer care assistant; this is generous when you consider that about 40 percent of web users will leave a website if the site does not load in three seconds or less. About one-third of the callers who hang up after two minutes of waiting will not try again.

The average hold time across businesses of all sizes is 56 seconds. For small businesses, the average hold time slides in just under the two-minute threshold at one minute and 47 seconds.

Clearly, to differentiate yourself from your competitors and grow your customer base, you need to cut back on your hold times as much as possible. Neglecting to do so is definitely considered a faux pas in this industry.

Know Who Is Calling You and Why

While some customers may call your business because they want to make a purchase, the majority of callers are probably reaching out because they have a problem that needs a solution. They are already on the edge of frustration, and a long hold time may give them the nudge they need to abandon your business altogether.

With that in mind, you should make sure that your call center representatives have a solid knowledge of your products and services so they can quickly address common issues and move on to the next caller. You may also want to consider giving your call center employees more authority to make decisions.

Empower Your Customers

A writer for Multichannel Merchant recommends that you “Train your agents to always give the customer the option to hold or to receive a call back. Giving your customers a choice makes them feel more in control.”

Another way to give your customers more control over a situation is to have helpful resources they can access online. Well-designed information pages may eliminate the need for calls together.

Invest in a Top-Notch Call Center Team

Have you considered outsourcing your calls? Novasors Call Center Solutions can help you with call overflow, thus reducing the time your customer has to wait on the phone. Alternatively, you can entrust 100 percent of your calls to Novasors. You’ll have a team of professionals on your side that knows how to quickly and courteously handle customer inquiries.

Is the effort it takes to shorten hold times worth it? By providing an outstanding customer service experience, you encourage customer loyalty, and as Help Scout brings out, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, “On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times the amount of their first purchase.”

Your customers don’t call you because they want to listen to catchy elevator music. They call because they want to talk to a person. Aim to get your hold times below one minute by having a well-trained call center team.

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