2021 was an incredibly innovative year. Remote and hybrid work officially entered the mainstream, shifting entire industries in the process. Great strides were made in AI assistive technology to create an easier, more human experience. Overall, it’s safe to say the world is more advanced and more connected than ever.
So why does hold time still exist? It’s a fair question, considering that call-back technology has been around for over 20 years. Sure, the contact center industry has never been known for embracing cutting-edge technology. But the frustration of waiting on hold is universal, and agents hate long queues as much as customers hate waiting on them.
Over the past two years, industry trends have shown the number of contact centers using call-backs rising dramatically. Still, long hold times continue to plague customers to this day. And trust us, they are not happy about it. If you haven’t been listening, we’ve got the scoop on the worst hold time offenders from this past year.
Brace yourself… this isn’t going to be pretty.
Worst Industry to Call in 2021
Before we begin naming-and-shaming the worst offenders, let’s look at the big picture.
The financial services industry is leading the pack for worst hold times. They are followed closely by the airline industry, which incidentally swept our top ten list. Rounding off the top three is the telecommunications industry.
These industries already have a bad rap for poor customer service, and their customers are not afraid to share their thoughts about the matter.
Why does @BankofAmerica have me on hold for over 30 minutes? It shouldn’t take so long to get ahold of a human-being— young escobar-ess (@meaggiimoo_) December 3, 2021
@SpiritAirlines I’ve been trying for hours to manage travel and book a flight. I’ve been on hold for almost a hour. I’m so disappointed— Ash (@Motivated_Ash) December 2, 2021
59 minutes on hold with @RogersHelps What a way to spend a Friday night ???— Robyn Rosen Codas (@RRCodas) October 30, 2021
Most Improved Customer Hold Time
Let’s pause for some good news and recognize a business who has made considerable improvement since last year.
At the height of the pandemic, EasyJet took fourth place for worst hold times. We’re pleased to share that they seem to have improved their service considerably, with only a fraction of social media complaints for their hold times compared to this time last year.
Now without further delay, let’s dive into our top ten hold time offenders of 2021…
This Year’s Top 10 Worst Hold Time Offenders
This prominent telecommunications business is no stranger to long hold times. T-Mobile placed 8th on this list last year, and despite their efforts to improve, it wasn’t enough to escape the top ten.
Having to call the phone company about your phone is bad enough without having to wait for a half hour.
@TMobile after waiting on hold for 30 minutes, I was told sorry, the machine said we can’t help you now call again later and now it just rings busy. My phone will not work till i get someone on phone with tmobile. Help please.
— Jace Gordon (@agentjgordon) November 29, 2021
If you’re going to make a bold statement on your phone menu, you need to be able to back it up.
I’ve been on hold with @TMobile for like an hour now and all I keep hearing is the automated voice saying “T-Mobile customers are the happiest” let me be the first to let yk that’s a lie
— J (@J63962849) November 30, 2021
Acquiring new customers only to disappoint them on the first day. Not a great start, T-Mobile…
@TMobileHelp on hold for almost an hour to speak to rep. not a great way start first day as a customer with t mobile.
— Piyush (@piyushailawadi) November 30, 2021
9. Chase Bank
Our top-placing hold time offender from last year has moved to 9th place. While they no longer hold the title of Worst Hold Time Offender, it seems they still have a considerable amount of work to do…
The fact that this customer is able to empathize with the company even after an hour on hold is impressive.
— RMLabs (@LabsRm) November 18, 2021
When someone takes the time to discourage their network from using your services, you’re probably doing something wrong.
I have been on hold for a deposit concern with chase bank, now for 2 hours and 50 minutes! I don’t recommend using chase for banking!
— ?????????StuHR????????? (@iammanutd00) November 20, 2021
If you still don’t believe people will leave your brand due to long hold times, this tweet might be a rude awakening.
@Chase you guys are the worst bank in the world I love being on hold for over an hour and having my call be disconnected twice!! Can’t wait to close my account with you guys. u suck
— LM (@leximoreno) November 27, 2021
With more relaxed travel restrictions, airlines have been overwhelmed with queries from concerned travelers. WestJet is one of many that left their callers fuming in queue.
At least the emojis take some of the sting out of this post.
My time on hold with @WestJet was longer then this layover between flights ?✈️????
— Kurt Arnold (@kurtarnold_kurt) December 1, 2021
Call-backs are great, but they’re not a replacement for proper communication with your customers.
Still on hold with @WestJet on a SCHEDULED CALL BACK.
Going on 1:44 at this time.
How hard is it to acknowledge this, and keep me informed? Haven’t talked to a person in over 90 minutes pic.twitter.com/YkixWT8kUr
— Anvilsmash (@Anvilsmash) November 25, 2021
“Disappointed and unheard.”
Well. Now after 7 hours on hold with no response on my Twitter including DM or Facebook msgr. I’m feeling disappointed and unheard here
— Hijinx (@Hypno_Hijinx) November 24, 2021
7. JetBlue Airways
This airline didn’t fare much better, leaving their travelers with more problems than just the holiday blues…
Customers don’t consider the quality of your support channel-by-channel. To them, it’s a single, unified experience — and if you drop the ball, they’ll let you know.
@jetblue online booking has been crashing for 2 days. Was on hold with customer support for 3 hours today and they couldn’t book flight then dropped the call. Someone should be fired.
— Marc Singer (@marcsingertweet) November 15, 2021
At least this customer has a sense of humor about their predicament…
Don’t ever assume I’m free
I could be on the 89th minute of being on hold with jetblue for all you know
— lexi (@alexaplottin) November 9, 2021
The sad part is how hard this person tried to give JetBlue their business.
OK @JetBlue – you win. After 2 hours and 40 minutes on hold without speaking to anyone, I give up. You don’t need to pay anyone to answer my question. I’ll fly another airline. https://t.co/eag9W03pna
— Derek Newton (@DerekTNG) November 20, 2021
6. Southwest Airlines
Airlines continue to dominate our list as Southwest swoops in to snag 6th place.
Travelling isn’t always a vacation. This poor customer just wants to pay their respects to a loved one…
@SouthwestAir I woke up this morning to find out about flights being delayed. I have a funeral to get to. On hold for more than 2 hours ….
— Farias (@Farias74156656) October 12, 2021
MAKE. IT. RIGHT.
@SouthwestAir I’ve been placed on hold for a call back 4 times. The call instantly hangs up after I pick up. Paid for a flight and never got a confirmation number. Make it right!
— Zach Copeland (@Zach__Copeland) October 15, 2021
When your company makes a mistake and you place the burden on your customer to reach a resolution, that’s poor service.
@SouthwestAir You lost my son’s bag on flight 29O9R5, I have been on hold for over an hour acquiring about incident report BUFWN39399398. My son had his nebulizer in his bag along with other valuables. I would never recommend this airline to anyone! Answer your f***ing phone SW pic.twitter.com/co2k98l70r
— Kimberly Livingston (@HelloListen1) November 6, 2021
In a highly connected world, telecommunications are an essential part of daily life. So when their service is interrupted, it makes sense that these customers have no patience for wasted time.
They’re not wrong, Verizon. Call-backs can make all the difference in a customer’s experience!
@Verizon it would be awesome if you had a callback option for your customer service because waiting on hold for 30 minutes+ because my texts aren’t working since the last time I spoke to a rep is a hassle. It is also costing me $$
— Josie Long (@LavieJosie) November 26, 2021
When callers start to critique your choice of hold music, you MIGHT have a hold-time issue. Just saying.
I’m on hold with @VerizonSupport and they have exactly one, two minute long bit of jazzy hold music. I mean, it’s not bad but after 10 reps it’s getting old.
Pretty sure as the most expensive mobile carrier in the US they can afford to license more than one song.
— Kendall Miller (@kendallmiller) November 30, 2021
Customers don’t see what’s happening behind the scenes. Leaving them on hold is the equivalent of ghosting them. How rude.
@VerizonSupport does anyone work at your call centers? Two days I’ve been trying to get ahold of you, both on hold for 45 mins.
— Glenmore Vinoya (@gvinoya) December 1, 2021
Ah, what would this list be without the IRS? Aside from being the butt of many a joke, government services are known for being a huge pain to deal with. Honestly, we’re surprised more of them didn’t make this list…
On hold with the irs can’t believe I’m still going through the same bs 2 years later tf— LavishWigsByJayy? (@JayyEnvyMe) December 6, 2021
You should never have to choose between customer service and basic hygiene.
Been on hold with the IRS for 2 hours…so I risk it and take a shower?
— haylee (@xxhayleekat) November 19, 2021
New rule: if they make you wait more than 30 minutes, you don’t have to pay taxes. That’s fair, right?
I have been on hold with the #IRS for more than 2 hours to pay them. You would think that the #InternalRevenueService would want my money any way that they could get it, right???? pic.twitter.com/vir3BdBZhh
— Steven D. Morris (@gatlic1974) November 30, 2021
3. Virgin Media
Placing 6th last year, Virgin Media decided to go against their better senses climbing into third place. In this case, the phrase “any press is good press” doesn’t really apply.
The only thing ruder than ghosting your customers is hanging up on them.
@virginmedia I just got through a customer service agent after being on hold for 50 minutes – when I started explaining the issue the line went dead?I have also tried your online messaging service…no one has replied! This is outrageously poor service. Can I request a callback?
— Andrea Woods-Murphy (@andie_woods) September 30, 2021
Did the polite, diplomatic approach pay off for this person? Likely not…
Hi @virginmedia Is there a quicker way to get to speak with you? I’ve been on hold with you since what feels like the beginning of time. I’m now out of contract with you and would like to renew but fed up waiting. Thanks.
— Life In A Northern Town (@lifeinanthntwn) October 28, 2021
The science checks out: long hold times will make your customers quit your brand.
I eventually got through after being on hold for about 30-minutes and then I got moved around to two different departments so after 50 minutes I just hung up I’ve about 2 months left on my contract so I will wait until it expires then I’m going to move but thanks for your reply
— james cullen (@cullenjay01) November 18, 2021
2. American Airlines
Our runner up this year for worst hold time is the one and only American Airlines. At this point, we don’t have much more to say about the airline industry, so we’ll let these customers say it all.
— Dirty Dianna (@diabolique21) November 20, 2021
They were given a rare second chance with a customer, and they squandered the opportunity.
@AmericanAir now I remember why I stopped flying your airline. Said I would be on hold for 20 minutes. Now up to 75 minutes…and this music is driving me nuts!! Staff up properly when you know calls will be above normal!!!
— Andy Brusman (@andybrusman) November 30, 2021
They basically destroyed their customer’s property and started dodging calls.
Been on hold for a long long time with American Airlines. They had broke my hockey helmet and hockey cage. @AmericanAir I need an answer. Can’t be on hold forever
— Meredith ?????? (@hckyplayer20) November 20, 2021
1. Delta Airlines
No need for a drumroll – Delta Airlines clearly has enough hold music to play themselves out. Moving up to the most (un)coveted position, it seems they’re on a mission to make their customers miserable.
That is TERRIFYING. Hopefully they’re all okay…
@Delta been on hold for 30 minutes worried that my family members are being put on a flight that isn’t safe. They are smelling fuel and aren’t being given information.
— Carly Ivette Rdz (@CarlyFries91) December 1, 2021
Soothing jazz music isn’t enough to calm the rage of your customers.
@Delta DO YOU GUYS EVER TAKE PEOPLE OFF OF HOLD ON YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE LINE?? BEEN ON HOLD FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF AND THE JAZZ MUSIC, WHILE PLEASANT, IS GETTING REALLLYYYYYY OLD… making a bad experience worse :,)
— AMCC’s Nicest (@sarahmarinoo) November 30, 2021
5 hours on hold to speak to someone? You don’t deserve your customer service award, Delta! https://t.co/jkPNS6MFo2
— Happy Tweeter (@tweeter33335) November 8, 2021
This customer ended up writing an entire article about his experience with Delta in the New York Times.
I waited 90 minutes for Delta on Monday. The flight took off. “275 Minutes on Hold: Why Airline Customer Service Still Can’t Keep Up” https://t.co/k4Z42tSJy7
— Dave Cullen (@DaveCullen) November 12, 2021
Remember, even a single interaction can make an impression on your customers for life. And they don’t need to be a celebrity to voice their frustrations. Unfortunately for Delta Airlines, they’ve already made a pretty strong impression on comedian and SNL alum, John Mulaney, who shared his experiences with the airline on stage.