Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Managing the Customer Experience- 'Hold on I'm Coming' is Not an Answer

November 20, 2014

In looking for trends regarding the customer experience, it is always a delight to run across somebody sharing fact-based insights on critical matters of this or any day. It was thus illuminating to happen upon a timely posting by author Shep Hyken on the B2C website titled, “How To Manage Hold Times During The Customer Experience.”  It is a short but powerful piece about a true bane of modern existence, being put on hold.


As Heyken astutely notes, perception is reality and one of the real issues in dealing with contact centers is being placed on hold. The issue is not being parked until one of those busy customer agents gets to you, but rather the perception that what maybe in reality a short wait time can seem interminable.

Where the posting got really interesting was Heyken’s citation of work done by Steven Coufel of Software Advice who with colleague Craig Borowski, did a survey of 1,100 customers to ascertain their feelings about being put on hold or being asked to call back whose findings are in the article You Need to Offer Callback-Here Are 3 Ways to Get It.

Hold on to your seats since those findings are an eye-opener. What the authors found was that:

  • 60 percent of customers feel that waiting on hold for just one minute is too long.
  • 63 percent of consumers prefer a callback option instead of waiting on hold.
  • 43 percent expect a callback from the company within 30 minutes.
  • 28 percent would prefer a callback rather than even spend a minute on hold.


Heyken’s response was similar to mine and what all of us feel. Just let me know how long I will wait either online or when to expect a call back. Truth be known the technology exists to enable Heyken’s three suggestions:

  • Let me know how long the hold times are.
  • Give me the option to be called back, and include an expected time.
  • Let me pick a callback time that is convenient for me.

What we constant hear from those running contact centers is that old phrase “time is money.” However, the perspective, and why key performance indicators are focused intently on how fast problems get resolved once I am actually speaking to somebody(s), is that it is about their time and money and not mine. After all, most contact centers are not 24/7/365, which means there is a high likelihood my issue is one that needs resolution during my work hours.

In short, message to those with antiquated customer interaction capabilities, spend the money on making me happy.  Enhancing the customer experience is about as much about me as it is about your efficiency.  Pick up now or call me later at my convenience and we are good. Put me on hold and/or don’t call back in a timely manner, and you have real problems. 

We all know the math. It is much more costly to get a new customer than it is to keep a good existing one. Plus, in a socially-centric world where things can go viral in seconds, starting an interaction by keeping me in suspense as to when I may interact with you can have major consequences.   

If you do nothing more, keep those numbers from above about customer perceptions as a handy tool the next time you are looking for your management to upgrade your contact center. They and your customers as well as you will be glad you did. 




Edited by Maurice Nagle

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