Waiting on hold for a live agent is a universally-frustrating experience. When you’re on hold, a single minute can feel like thirty. Call abandonment happens when a caller hangs up before they get connected to an agent, or sometimes they hang up during the call while an agent is assisting them. There are several reasons why customers abandon calls, but it’s typically due to long hold times or poor service. A Consumer Reports issue showed that the top complaint among consumers was the inability to get a live agent, and a TalkTo and ResearchNow study estimates the average person will spend 43 days of their life on hold. Voice Response Inc. showed more than 1 in 3 people will never call back after hanging up from being on hold for too long. Luckily, there are ways to make the time go by faster and even more efficiently. 

Communicate with your customer

Communication is key. One way to make hold time feel more tolerable is to tell callers how much of it they can expect. A caller is much more likely to lose patience and abandon the call if they don’t know approximately how long they’ll be waiting, which is why it’s important to be upfront about the Estimated Wait Time (EWT). It also limits the chance of a customer abandoning the call just as they were about to be put through. Giving callers an EWT helps increase customer satisfaction as it allows them to manage their time and determine whether or not they want to stay on hold. 

Virtual queuing and callback options

There’s only so much you can do to reduce hold time. At some point, you have to start thinking about the customer experience and help make it more enjoyable, or at least not as frustrating. A virtual queuing system is an effective way to empower your customers to feel more in control of their call center experience. A virtual queuing system also allows your customers to hang up without losing their place in the queue. Your agent can then call them back when they become available. This simple tactic keeps customers in the queue, reducing call abandonment rates, all while easing their frustrations of having to wait on hold. Rather than having to suffer through long wait times when your call center is experiencing high call volumes, your customer can choose to schedule a callback at a convenient time. This improves the customer’s perception of their support experience, and your company, as callers will feel like your company respects their time.

Keep customers engaged

There’s only so many times you can hear, “Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line and an agent will be with you momentarily,” before you lose it and hang up the phone. Incorporating new media and content can enhance the experience for callers. Good hold music and messaging – such as product updates, account information, changes in business hours, promotional advertisements, short informational announcements, or self-service options, are common approaches and a nice change of pace. Good hold music may not keep customers on hold longer, but a bad choice of hold music or a bad recording will surely make customers want to hang up sooner. Select music for the emotional effect you want to project – music that has qualities associated with your brand.

Make sure your staff are well-trained

Having adequate staffing is important. Every contact center should have enough agents to handle the ongoing workload. Well trained and well-equipped staff are much more productive, as they can deal with customer queries quicker and increase positive customer experiences through their knowledge. Fast, efficient computers, up-to-date systems, and the use of VoIP phone systems mean your agents are always connected and calls can be conducted seamlessly. Streamlining the entire call process by training and equipping your staff allows them to get through calls and move onto the next customer more efficiently.

Ultimately, a high rate of abandoned calls is a sign that your customers aren’t receiving the level of service they expect. Bad customer service can lead to dissatisfied customers and a loss of business. By integrating some of the tips above, more customers can be connected with your agents and enjoy an efficient and effective experience.