BEWARE! Long Hold Times Can Turn Customers into Zombies

“Your call is important to us. Please hold while we assist other customers.”

Is there anything more frightening than these dreaded words? It can be horrifying to watch the minutes slowly slip away from you, with no way of knowing how much longer you’ll be forced to hold. It’s the stuff of nightmares.

If there’s one thing most people have come to expect when dialing for customer service, it’s long hold times. Even the simplest billing question can result in maddening hold music playing on an endless loop. It’s a problem many companies struggle with – should you hire more employees and risk paying them to sit around waiting for calls to come in, or should you chalk up long wait times as part of your customer experience, and subject your callers to long holds? Understanding the way such long hold times can impact your callers can help you make the best choice for your team.

Callers Become Frustrated

There is perhaps no worse way to begin a customer interaction than by forcing them to wait. No one likes to spend their valuable time on the phone, especially when their issues aren’t actively being addressed. Considering that most callers will be dialing in to help solve a problem, beginning with a lengthy wait is never a good idea.

As they hold for the next available representative, customers grow more and more frustrated by your company. They think about warning their friends not to call, they consider using your competitors and they become fed up with your company as a whole. Even the most patient of callers can feel annoyed with you and your team by the time their call is answered.

Callers Hang Up – and Dial Your Competitor

When you’ve got places to be and errands to take care of, sitting on the phone isn’t always an option. Those who are in need of assistance right away often can’t afford to waste time waiting on hold. Instead, these folks will often hang up and dial your competitor instead. In a global society where your competition isn’t limited to your neighborhood alternatives, your customers have more options than ever. Brand loyalty is hard to come by these days, and it doesn’t take much for customers to give up on a company who doesn’t respect their time.

Just like a zombie is singularly focused on consuming brains, callers are only motivated to get their issues dealt with, and neither are always picky about how it gets done or by who.

Customers Change Their Buying Habits

The longer someone waits for something, the less they want it. It’s a truism that is echoed across industries. Consider the impulse buys set up near the register of your local grocery store. Given enough time in line, customers will find ways to talk themselves out of that chocolate bar or fashion magazine. Similarly, when they wait long enough for you to pick up their call, customers have the time to talk themselves out of whatever product or service they might have been on the fence about.

This attitude can impact other buying decisions, too. Callers who have been waiting for a long time are less inclined to agree to packages you might be offering and are ready to tune out any upselling you might try. The longer they wait, the less excited your customers will be about your products and services.

Callers Become Grumpy

When a person feels their time is being wasted by sitting around on hold, their mood naturally shifts to grumpy. While the individual moods of your customers are impossible to predict, your employees are more likely to bear the brunt of an annoyed caller when they’ve been put on hold for a lengthy period. Even when your team is pleasant and helpful, callers can find it difficult to shake their cranky zombie mood. This can ultimately lead to a brief and unsatisfying customer interaction. Enough of these conversations can even lead to employee burnout, adding yet another layer to an already frustrating problem.

Answering and Virtual Receptionist Services for the Zombie Apocalypse

Thankfully, there are ways to combat long hold times and the zombies they create. A national answering service can help you and your team get rid of hold queues and ensure every caller is handled with care. MAP Communications has led the industry for nearly three decades, offering clients the ability to eliminate on-hold experiences for callers and ensure that even most haunting of customers is happy and satisfied by the end of the call. Working with a company like MAP can put an end to your customer service nightmares!


Here are some related articles you might be interested in:

7 Phrases You Should Never Say on a Customer Service Call

Are You Making These 7 Deadly Customer Service Mistakes?

Five Strategies to Upgrade Your Customer Service