Long Hold Times Spell Disaster for Contact Centers

It’s no mystery that customers would prefer immediate service to being put on hold while awaiting customer service support. But how damaging is the hold practice to your business?

Consider that 32 percent of respondents to an online Google survey said, “none,” when asked how long they’d be willing to wait on hold for customer service.

The general assumption among contact center leaders is that as long as 80 percent of calls are being answered within 20 seconds (the 80/20 service-level “gold standard”), your center is satisfying customers. So, what do you do about research that indicates that how calls are handled is more important than wait time?

It’s best that you hedge your bets. After all, according to Consumer Reports, 66 percent of callers are “highly annoyed” by long waits on hold.

Yes, a stellar customer experience is the new gold standard for contact centers, but that includes the entire customer journey, wait times included. A NewVoiceMedia infographic reveals that 44 percent of U.S. consumers take their business elsewhere as a result of inadequate service. A large majority of those individuals (89 percent) switch at least once every year, and 25 percent of those people say it’s because they were tired of being kept on hold.

How ’bout some good news? Twice as many consumers (50 percent) use a company more often after a positive customer experience, per NewVoiceMedia.

Unfortunately, however, thanks to social media, even one dissatisfied customer can affect your business. The infographic further shows that 59 percent of 25 to 34 year olds share poor customer experiences online and 63 percent of consumers read damaging reviews. That’s a lot of negative energy directed at your brand.

Don’t be terribly discouraged: Aggregated research indicates that contact center hold times of less than 20 to 30 seconds do not strongly impact the customer experience. Certain industry experts steer businesses away from meeting strict 80/20 parameters for this reason. They tend to recommend that organizations focus more on the customer’s end-to-end journey to create happier customers overall.