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jacada hold time blog“I was asked, ‘Could you hold a moment?’ After 9 minutes and no service I gave up and hung up”, complained a customer on a Yahoo forum way back in 2008, and she’s not the only one, especially with the rise of social media. No one likes to be put on hold.

Sure, 4.1% of survey respondents told Velaro that they have no life and would wait as long as it takes, but 32.3% said companies shouldn’t put people on hold. Ever.

Unfortunately, that’s not always possible in contact centers. You get more calls than you can handle, or your agents need to check information and get approvals.

But how long is it too long to be on hold, and what can you do about it?

Testing Customer Patience 20 Seconds at a Time
Wanting issues resolved and fearing to lose their place in line after waiting for so long, some customers wait for long periods of time and think less of us with every passing minute. When they finally reach an agent, they won’t be easily engaged and open to suggestions. The 13 minute mark is the boiling point, reported Business Insider, when customers hang up and switch providers.

But most people won’t wait that long. Velaro’s survey found that 57.8% won’t wait for more than 5 minutes. 27.6% will hang up after holding for one single minute. According to Unitiv, even a 1 minute response time doesn’t guarantee satisfaction, as frustration levels increase after holding for merely 20 seconds.

How to Overcome Customer Impatience
Often, putting customers on hold is inevitable, yet fun hold music can only get you so far. Always communicate why it’s happening and offer to call customers back. You can do it through your IVR if

they haven’t reach an agent yet, or let customers schedule callbacks on your website or app in advance instead of holding in line. Software Advice found that 63.1% of customers would rather get a callback than wait on hold. Just remember that almost half of them expect you to call back within 30 minutes.

Customers want to talk to a live agent because it’s usually the best way to resolve issues. This can be easily changed if you make sure there are people who can truly help customers at every touch point – live chat, email, social media. You can add more useful information to your site and optimize your IVR for better self-service success rates. You don’t have to put customers on hold for 15.5 hours to give them the impression you don’t care. In a world where even one minute feels like eternity, you need to give customers other valuable channel options to get support.


Read "The Mobile Customer" chapter from ContactBabel's 'US Contact Center Decision-Makers' Guide