Research Reveals How Much Time We Spend on Hold


In a blog post written by Kevin McMahon over at WestUC he states “Research has shown that the average consumer can expect to spend around 43 days of their life waiting on hold. That’s not only bad news for consumers (we have better things to do!), it’s bad for businesses too. Companies face the very real risk of losing frustrated customers to their competition when hold times get out of hand.

Putting Hold Time into Perspective

Lifetime spent on hold
While 10 to 20 minutes a week might not seem like much, over a lifetime it equates to around 43 days in a lifetime. What else could we have done with this time?

  • Enjoyed just over 6 week-long vacation
  • Watched 688 soccer matches (extra time not included)
  • Listened to the complete works of Beethoven nearly 47 times
  • Traveled to the moon 14 times (at the same speed as Apollo 11)

If given the choice, what would you rather do with your time? Pretty much anything other than waiting on hold, probably.

It’s Not Just Consumers That Should Be Concerned by On-Hold Numbers

When we’re made to wait, our loyalties are tested (along with our patience). In fact, 66% of us will consider switching to a competitor after being kept on hold longer than expected – and our expectations are high.

On-hold expectations

  • 82% of us expect calls to be answered in less than 15 minutes
  • 62% want calls answered in less than five minutes

Furthermore, when placed on hold 60% of us just hang up. That alone should be enough to strike fear in businesses, but not as much as the fact that of those who end the call, 30% will never call back.

How Are Companies Actually Doing?

On-hold by Industry
A Which? survey out of the UK found that car insurance companies were fastest to pick up the phone with 89% of calls were answered in less than five minutes, followed closely by home insurance firms with 88% of calls answered in less than five minutes.

Faring the worst were broadband providers, who managed to answer just 58% of calls in less than five minutes (and left 6% of callers waiting more than twenty minutes).

Some Industries Handle Hold Times Much Better Than Others

On-hold fast wait times

How Can a Multichannel Contact Center Solution Help?

It’s not just hold times that customers care about. Customers expect great service all around. Short wait times aren’t much use if the agent who answers isn’t equipped to deal with the issue. Consumers want their calls to be connected directly to a skilled agent with the right knowledge (and authority) to help, and they want that agent to have full insight into their previous communications with the company.

While most generations still favor phone support over all other customer service channels, Generation Y (those born after 1990) tends to turn to apps, social media, and instant messaging more often than the phone, with 52% using multiple channels (up to four) when accessing customer care. This flexibility requires a fully-integrated multichannel contact center, that enables agents to view a customer’s interactions with a company across multiple devices in one place, is the natural progression for a forward-thinking company and its contact center.

Finally, give customers the option skip the hold queue frustration altogether. With virtual queues, the customer has the choice to be called back by an agent at a time that’s convenient to them.

With 60% of customers willing to pay more for a better experience, can you afford to keep customers on hold for much longer?”


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