Often prospective customers will tell me that hold times “aren’t an issue” with their call center. This is usually an indication that there’s more to the story. Because, more often than companies want to admit, hold times are an issue with their customers.
There are three distinct reasons why most contact centers want to eliminate hold time in their service organization.
1. Nobody Wants to Wait
Not every customer service organization is created equal. For example, Zappos – legendary for its customer service – strives to answer 80% of calls within the first 20 seconds. In case you can’t match Zappos, do you know how long your customers will wait before they abandon the call? 30 seconds? 60 seconds? 5 minutes? According to Ifbyphone, 15% of callers tend to hang up right around 40 seconds. Many of our customers have shared similar data, indicating a sharp rise in abandon rates around the 45 second mark.
One key way to eliminate hold time is to give customers the option of a call-back. I’m happy to say that at Fonolo, we’ve helped many companies reduce their abandoned rate. (Here’s a quick video testimonial from a credit union that did just this.)
2. Customers Will Go Elsewhere
According to a YouGov study, 76% said that “just one unpleasant contact center experience was likely to make them take their business elsewhere”. It’s no wonder that 6/10 customers have ditched a company because its telephone customer service has been so bad.
To make matters worse, customers have access at their fingertips to publicly vent about a bad experience (thanks to social media). Just check out Onholdwith.com, a site that collects tweets from people stuck on hold. See how your company stacks up against the competition! Or if you feature in our annual list of the 10 worst companies to call.
So if it sounds simple, it’s because it is: reducing hold time improves the experience you provide to customers.
3. Hold Times Can Get Worse in a Flash
Professional athletes know that being the best means being the best on your worst day. For call centers, this means being prepared when disaster strikes – be it overwhelming volume from an unexpected product/service issue, or something as simple as employees suddenly coming down with the flu.
Having a strategy in place (like Fonolo) to handle flash traffic to your call center and avoid excessive hold times is key. Think of it as an insurance policy for your brand. After all, customers will judge you on your worst day and don’t want to hear excuses.
The best call centers will tell the full story when it comes to long hold times, but the even better ones will do something about it.
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