Are Your Customer Experience Dreams “On Hold” Due To Long Waits?

How to end the cycle of excruciatingly long hold times and create the customer experience your contact centre is truly capable of delivering.

Consumer Reports’ “Top Gripes” survey covering telephone contact centre service complaints found long hold times to be among customers’ top concerns: on a scale of one to ten, long hold times “rang up” an annoyance score of 8.2. When customers’ calls go unanswered, tempers start to flare, and you may end up with that most dreaded of contact centre scourges: the abandoned call. What can be done to reduce hold times and improve the customer experience in your contact centre?

Are Your Customer Experience Dreams “On Hold” Due To Long Waits?

Offer a Call-Back Option

Nobody likes to wait. Sitting in an interminable Starbucks drive-thru line or a crowded doctor’s office waiting room packed with hacking, sneezing patients is enough to set you off, isn’t it? Why should you expect anything different of your customers? One excellent and rather easily implemented solution to the problem of long hold times is to offer your customers a call-back option.

Call-back capable software helps your agents work more efficiently by keeping them from getting overwhelmed with burgeoning numbers of callers in the queue. For customers, what might have been stressful time wasted waiting on hold can become an opportunity for greater productivity, along with the added benefit of knowing your business values their time.

Mobile Apps

American consumers love mobile. Some smart companies are implementing sophisticated mobile apps like TalkTo that allow customers to relay simply inquiries through their smartphones, avoiding the need to ever pick up a handset and place a call. These sophisticated customer service technology options can help free up your existing agents, lighten their queued caller loads, and help the contact centre run more smoothly.

Bring in More Troops

Hiring new in-house agents isn’t always the answer (or a realistic option) when hold times are out of control. Smart contact centre managers know a need to reduce hold times is a perfect reason to consider outsourcing part of the telephone agent force to a reliable third-party contact centre service that can provide a seamless extension of your in-house operations. Round-the-clock availability and the ability to provide service in both official languages are must-haves from any outsourced support you may enlist.

The Cost of Doing Nothing

Ignoring the problem of out-of-control hold times isn’t the way to improve the customer experience. In the new, constantly-connected world, interesting consumer-focused apps such as GetHuman are giving potential callers real-time information about recent hold times, whether or not call-backs are an option, and the best numbers to call to get the holy grail of telephone customer service: a real, live human. As consumers become increasingly empowered with this type of technology and the social media accounts to spread the word, ignoring your long hold issues may result in dramatic consequences for your contact centre.

Consider the popularity of website onholdwith.com, a consumer-driven forum with social media broadcast power, through which holding customers can share their wait time woes with anyone tuning into the #onholdwith hashtag. If that doesn’t leave you a little nervous about what type of globally broadcast bad press your failure to reduce hold times may garner, we don’t know what will.

The Next Steps

Hold time is a crucial component of the overall customer experience. Pretending it’s not an issue isn’t going to win you any new business, and it may alienate the ranks of your most loyal customers if you let holding continue to be your contact centre’s major hang-up. After all, Deloitte’s 2013 Contact Center Survey found customer experience to be a major competitive differentiator amongst contact centres, with 40 percent of firms now having specifically dedicated resources targeting improving the customer experience. For more info on how you can improve customer experience by reducing hold times and other common contact centre complaints, check out our free white paper.

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