New studies reveal that customers aren’t willing to wait on hold very long or even at all.
No one likes to be put on hold, and yet it happens to most of us more often than not whenever we call a business. Hold times cause customer frustration and revenue losses, making it a lose-lose situation for all concerned, and the problem only appears to be getting worse. Busy phone lines tend to be a good sign for a business—every person that contacts your company is a potential sale in the making—but if you’re not answering those phones promptly you’re missing out on opportunities, plain and simple.
Scientific Data Proves that Answering Phones is of Primary Importance
There’s more than just common sense and anecdotal evidence to suggest that businesses need to do more to get their customers off hold and onto the phone with a real live customer service representative. In a study done by Valero, researchers found that over half of the respondents said that 1 minute was too long to be on hold and that 1/3 of people said that customer service departments should be handling their calls immediately.
Older reports had suggested that customers may be willing to wait on hold for up to 6 minutes. Whether this is an indication that the old models were plain old wrong or that customers are growing increasingly frustrated is unclear, but the result for today’s customer service departments is the same—answer those incoming calls quickly, or pay the price with reduced customers and reduced satisfaction.
Hold Times are Getting Worse—And That Spells Opportunity
According to another study, the average American consumer spends about 15 minutes on hold every week, and 86% of consumers say they are put on hold every single time they call a business. Over the course of a year, the typical consumer spends a whopping 13 hours on the phone just waiting for someone to answer, and 71%—nearly three-quarters of the country—are “tremendously annoyed” if they can’t quickly get a live representative to speak to. It’s a widespread problem with big implications for businesses large and small.
Rampant problems like this spell great opportunities for businesses who recognize the potential, though. Solve the problem at your business and for your customers, and you’ll really stand out from the crowd. You could bear the expense of hiring additional staff to make sure your phone lines are always covered, or you could go with the more affordable and more flexible option of partnering with a professional answering service for your inbound calls. With personalized greetings, customized plans, the ability to scale to sudden spikes in call volume while not costing you a penny between calls, the choice is pretty clear!