Sound Communication: The Holdcom Blog

A Message on Hold Nightmare from a Message on Hold Blogger

Frustration, confusion, impatience and irritation. These are all negative, yet common feelings toward bad hold time experiences among customers and clients. Its a relatively small yet imperative category of a business to have a well managed, up-to-date, professionally recorded message on hold and call processing system. Many times companies don't even give a second thought to their call flow or utilizing hold time as a communications tool. I decided to blog about "on-hold nightmares" because I had an extremely irritating on hold experience from the same company these past few days. As a message on hold blogger, I feel as if it would only be right (and fitting) to dissect my on hold experience and provide tips, knowledge and statistics about the different ways companies manage their on hold time.

Upon dialing the number given on the company website to verify an account I made, my on hold nightmare began with a random 3 second dial tone...

 Wait, what?... then silence for 8 seconds. Wait, am I connected? I haven't heard a ring yet...

Then, a female narrated message comes up saying "Your call is important to us. Please remain on the line for the next available representative" followed by silence again for 10 more seconds. Am I still connected? I'm confused.

Breaking the silence dull, repetitive music started to play, beneath annoying static. I remain on the line, but my patience is wearing thin, and I am even more confused.Message on hold, customer service, hold time optimization

About 15 seconds later a male human-narrated voice message began saying "All of our representatives are currently assisting customers. You can go on our website and verify your account online. [Gives instructions]. Thank You and have a good day." Then, silence once again. Wait, the reason why I am calling is because I am having problems verifying my account online. I need to speak to a representative. I stay on the line in hopes to be transferred to an operator or eventually a representative. But am I still connected?

After which seemed like the longest 45 seconds ever, there was a startling "BEEEEEP!"

I couldn't take it anymore and hung up. I called back 5 times after that and each time the same thing happened. The one and only reason I kept calling back was because I absolutely NEEDED to talk to someone in order to fix my problem. 3 days after my first attempt, I finally got through, after a total of 10 minute hold time. The representative who picked up my call was able to give me the information I was calling about. I was lucky to finally have my questions answered because according to consumer reports, 67% of callers hang up before having their concerns addressed.

As a Message On Hold Blogger, I couldn't help wonder if the company I was calling was aware of the positive and negative reactions their customer have towards certain call processing and message on hold initiatives?  Below are some facts and statistics that support the negative reactions towards poor call flow:

  • According to a CNN Survey, 60% of callers placed on-hold to silence will hang up.
  •  30% of first time callers will hang up to on-hold silence and will not call back
  •  Callers will hold approximately 30 seconds to music on hold.
  •  Callers generally perceive hold time to be longer than it actually is during silence on hold.
  •  Callers hang up the fastest during silence on hold. 

Here are some facts and statistics behind positive reactions toward professional on hold messages and companies that use hold time as a marketing platform:

  •  Callers generally perceive hold time to be shorter when messages or music are played.
  •  Companies that place information on hold have up to a 40% increase in caller retention.
  •  Message on hold proves an up to 15% rise in inquires.
  •  Service requests saw up to a 12% increase with using on hold messaging.

There is no debating the facts in the case.  Clearly, hold time plays a crucial role in customer service and is vital to a business. It is a good idea for businesses to have their call systems to see if they are using their customer hold time in a positive, efficient manner. Through my personal hold time nightmare I fell into the statistic of hanging up before my concerns were addressed. Our Wednesday blog, Twitter is a Feedback Tool for On Hold Marketing Too shows how social media has become an important customer service and feedback tool. Through these social media platforms, customers voice their opinions and exposes company weakness. Holdcom  Hold Time Twitterfeed  shows the continuous real-time feed of tweets featuring actual customers on hold with different companies, and most of the time tweeting complaints about their discontent during their hold time experience. Customer dissatisfaction can be avoided by having a well thought out call flow process.  From short concise upfront greeting to appropriate background music or professional audio messages while customers wait on hold, putting yourself in your customers shoes will go a long way in alleviating negative feedback. This simple strategy is sure to improve caller retention and boost customer satisfaction.


Interested in hearing how your call processing is working for you? Click Here for a  FREE Holdcom VoiceGrader Analysis.

Tags: resources, message on hold, customer experience