Let’s face it: no one likes being put on hold. It should be a red flag when using hold becomes part of the natural rhythm of a companies agents. Overuse of the hold function can indicate knowledge or training gaps in your agents. These can produce operational inefficiencies.Why shouldn’t you put your customers on hold? Because studies show that they don’t like it and they tend to hang up. Companies shouldn’t like it because hold time costs money and can lead to lost business.
The problem for your customers is that these symptoms generally result in frustrating side effects for them. There have been studies done on the use of hold and the results aren’t surprising – callers don’t like it and they tend to hang up. Obviously, companies don’t like this outcome. In addition, callers languishing on hold costs companies money in terms of lost business and in telecom costs. The hits just keep on coming.
According to research from Velaro, all it takes is waiting on hold for one minute and almost 60% of customers will hang up.
In a survey of “more than 2,500 consumers, nearly 60% of respondents believe that one minute is too long to be on hold,” PRWeb reports. “In addition, 32.3% of consumers believe that customer service departments should be answering immediately—with no hold time.”
When asked how long they were willing to be put on hold, about a third of respondents said they’re not willing to wait at all, 27.6% said 1 minute, and only 4.1% said they’d wait as long it took.
“Today’s consumers expect an efficient interaction and are no longer willing to wait unnecessarily,” noted Velaro VP Jeff Mason.
Adding a callback option drastically changed the calculus on the subject, however. Another survey sought to determine caller preference between waiting on hold or receiving a callback once an agent is available. Most customers preferred a callback.
The survey polled over 1,100 consumers and found that the “majority—63%—preferred callback. This data suggest that companies that are often forced to make customers wait on hold should consider adding a callback option to their phone system.”
With callback (i.e., virtual hold technology), an automated voice system lets callers choose between continuing to wait on hold or receiving a callback. The element of choice here is an important one for customer service because it gives callers more power. provides callers with a choice. If they choose a callback, the system can interact with the call center system to call customers back when an agent is free—automatically, via outbound calling.
Callback relies on automated voice technology. When a caller chooses a callback, the IVR that accepts the request can communicate directly with the call center system, placing an outbound call to the customer and connecting that call to an available agent on the other end. All of this takes place without additional human intervention.
According to Software Advice’s Craig Borowski, the company behind the survey, call centers have been at the forefront of technology use, employing advances like auto-dialers, voice over internet protocol (VoIP), and computer-telephony integration (CTI).
“A large portion of the developments, though, focus on streamlining call center operations, increasing efficiencies and boosting the bottom line,” Borowski wrote via email. “Other areas of development, such as those that focus on improving customer experience, have sometimes taken a back seat.”
It’s Not Going Away
The problem with this is that nowadays we know how critical customer experience is to customer satisfaction and retention. That’s why Plum Voice IVR is designed to address both operational efficiency and customer experience.
As communications technology continues to improve, customers expectations will only increase. That’s why overall customer experience is such an important differentiator.
An article from CBS News’ MoneyWatch, suggests that “Nothing says, ‘We care’ quite like picking up the phone on the first ring or answering an email quickly.” The article also provides a list of the companies with the fastest callback and return email times.
Another study, this one from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, examined caller patience. Some may say that the title of the study’s press release cuts to the quick, however: “Hang Up or Hold On? Study Helps Call Centers Know When Patience Is Running Out.”
In the study, researchers looked at 1.3 million calls placed to a bank’s call center and used that data to develop “a more accurate approach to modeling caller patience than ever before.”
“Knowing when a person decides to hang up or hang on is vital to streamlining call center operations, minimizing caller frustration and maximizing each customer service encounter,” the study’s authors stated. “The previous models used assumptions of caller abandonment that were easy to apply and analyze but didn’t provide a reasonable picture of people’s patience.”
So, in our data-driven world, call center performance analysis gets even more complicated, forcing businesses to take it more seriously.
“When a call center alters its discipline to improve speed and service, add agents or change call routing and priority, we theorized those things should influence caller patience,” the study claimed. “And our model shows that such improvements do indeed make a difference in whether people decide to hang up or hang on.”
Customer Experience Is More Important Than Ever
With everyone paying more attention to wait times and customer experience, it’s more important than ever for companies to ensure that they have the right technology solutions for their customers.
Whether businesses choose to automate frequent calls or provide callback services, they need technology to get the job done right. Plum Voice offers reliable, secure, cloud IVR platforms that deliver great customer experiences. Our platforms include VoiceTrends, a built-in data and analytics toolkit tailored specifically to IVR, making it easier than ever to have great, customer-friendly IVR.
Get in touch to see how Plum Voice can help you serve customers fast, without the frustration of waiting on hold.