My Hold Time is What?!

Contact Center waiting times
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Aberdeen cited that the biggest driver of multi-channel support is to provide a service where customers are most active:

Contact Center waiting times

and even though the rise of online channels such as live chat, social media and email has risen dramatically over the last few years, the voice channel is still the preferred form of communication between a customer and your company. In fact, a whopping 79% of consumers would prefer to contact a customer service center over the telephone. Since the voice channel is still the preferred option, callers expect a smooth and straightforward experience. After all, your contact center has been in operation for decades, surely you’ve worked out all the kinks by now?


But what customers expect and what companies deliver don’t really match up. In fact, only 26% of consumers believe customer service centers provide great support and a huge part of that has to deal with the hold time and how quickly their issue is (or really, is not) resolved. Want to see just how frustrated being on hold makes a caller? Check out and watch LIVE how what happens in the voice channel doesn’t stay in the voice channel, for better or worse.

Here are three ways call centers can help cut down on hold time and improve the customer experience:

1. Invest in a call-back system.

75% of customers think the option of a call-back is “highly appealing” because it gives them the freedom to get off the phone and get on with their life. And 27% of respondents said they are extremely likely to use intelligent call-back technology. They can choose to either sit on hold for [insert time here] or choose to be called back directly by one of your agents. This is a win-win for both you and your caller because there are fewer people in your call queue and you can assign the agent based on what the customer indicates their issue is, and customers aren’t stuck on hold for an unreasonable amount of time. Since some customers are willing to wait 7 minutes and others aren’t, your callers pre-qualify themselves by choosing the call-back option and, in a way, drive their own customer experience.

Just be sure that when you tell your customers they can expect to hear back from someone with one hour you actually call them back in one hour! Don’t make a promise you can’t deliver on or you are essentially forcing that customer to call back, starting the whole interaction off on the wrong foot.

2. Add a live chat feature.

In the US, 21% of online shoppers actually prefer live chat, so for e-commerce websites it’s a must! The reason live chat is so popular? It’s fast! Of those customers who prefer live chat, 79% said they did so because they get their questions answered quickly and 46% agreed it was the most efficient communication method. With a live chat window open in the background, customers can continue with their online life (shopping, social media, gaming, etc.) and not feel like they are “on hold.” And the benefit to your call center, one agent could be holding multiple chats at the same time, tripling or even quadrupling their productivity!

3. Build up self-help options.

According to Gartner, by 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human. Meanwhile, the number of consumers preferring automated self-service has doubled to 55% in the last five years. If you want to be a true multi-channel customer service center, you need to give customers the ability to help themselves! Take a look at your FAQs–what common questions have you left unanswered? Hint; if your customers are calling all the time about one thing you should probably have it in there! Could you create a forum for customers to help each other resolve common issues? Put yourself in the shoes of the customer and make sure they can easily find the information they need without having to hunt it down!

There are a lot of things that go into making a great customer experience. The knowledge of your agents, the attitude of your customer, the complexity of their issue; plenty of things are out of your hands and it’s really just about doing the best you can and always looking for little ways to improve. But keeping the pain and frustration in the voice channel, especially as it relates to hold time, is something you can control! Every second counts when it come to hold time, so finding new ways to connect with your callers can make you a customer service superstar!

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