Are You Making On-Hold Time Count?

Very few people enjoy being put on hold. That is, unless you can simultaneously benefit from a sports talk radio program, or scavenge iTunes for an 80s classic, or creatively doodle to pass the time. Time is a universally valuable commodity which is why many companies are revisiting how customers’ on-hold time is spent.

Have you ever considered how much time you spend on hold each day? A few surveys have attempted to calculate how much time the average person spends on hold. According to a CNN survey, the average person spends approximately 60 hours on hold every year. If you happen to be an executive, the numbers are worse, increasing to 17 minutes a day or approximately 100 hours per year. Quite a cost when considering how finite time can be on a daily basis.

Recognition that on-hold time is valuable, not to mention a great opportunity to bond with the customer, is prompting some companies to develop interesting ways to utilize the time people spend waiting on hold. Several studies indicate that customers prefer listening to an on-hold message rather than mere silence. Effective on-hold solutions reduce hang ups by up to 80%. In addition, 20% of respondents in another survey say they’ve made a purchase or decision based on information they heard while on hold.

Based on this type of research and other evidence, businesses are exploring various ways to leverage on-hold time and content. Soon, more complex on-hold experiences will become the norm. Here are a few examples of what these experiences will present to customers:

• Listen to customized offers or product solutions based on their individual or company profile.

• Interactively move forward with a transaction before a representative takes the call.

• Play an interactive game (based on company product knowledge) against other customers on-hold to move up in the queue.

• If wait times are going to be too long, customer may leave the standard call-back number, but also indicate a specific time to be called.

Some of these solutions are already cropping up. As they become more readily available, call center productivity will increase along with improved customer satisfaction. I know I found myself quite engaged with the on-hold interactive game technology that allows callers to move up in the queue. This type of application creates numerous opportunities to build a special bond with your customer while making the time fly. A win-win on both ends.

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