Placing customers on hold is a common practice among call centers that handle inbound customer support. It’s usually done by call center agents when the issues or concerns being presented by the customers require multiple and time-consuming actions or escalation to other departments.
Resolving customer complaints in a timely manner is a basic customer service expectation. Because of long hold times, however, customers are likely to experience frustration. Delays are perceived negatively especially by customers who don’t like to be kept waiting.
Why hold times matter
Long hold times will always have an impact on customer satisfaction levels. Placing customers on hold disrupts the call flow. The idle time can sometimes cause customers to think that their problem is a serious one even if it’s not necessarily the case. Some customers would choose to abandon the call, which can then hurt your call center metrics. Worst, some callers may interpret long hold times as a sign of poor customer service and decide not to call you ever again.
Every minute spent on the phone is precious time, especially if you have many things to attend to. Placing customers on hold, even just for a minute or two, may seem like a long time for callers who have other priorities. As call center managers, you can optimize your processes and train agents on how to minimize hold times, but there would always be special instances.
How to avoid delays
Hiring more agents is a popular solution. Having more agents means that customers don’t have to wait for the next agent or subject matter expert to be ready to talk to them. But this solution can be impractical. It’s helpful to have a big workforce during peak call volume times, but when the number of incoming calls drops, you will be left with many idle agents.
Improving your call center technology can also be a good move. Allowing callers to know how long they have to wait will make them more willing to be placed on hold. They can also use this information in deciding whether they should proceed with the call while on hold or call back at another schedule. You can also automate a process where callers can just choose to leave their contact details and desired callback schedule. Having the final say as to when they will be called back can help alleviate the frustration felt by the customers.
Lastly, never forget to train your agents on how to handle irate calls. At the end of the day, your agents’ communication skills will play the biggest role in preventing customer frustration from happening. So, don’t forget to teach agents the proper way of explaining hold procedures to customers before placing them on hold.
Frustration brought about by long hold times can be a serious problem for any call center that aims to have high customer satisfaction. Streamlining your resources and ensuring that they’re in good shape are what you need in order to avoid this from happening. If your procedures, technologies, and workforce are tuned up and ready for complicated customer cases, then customer frustration will be almost impossible to take place in your contact center.