Customer Experience News & Trends

What customers actually want to hear when they’re on hold

Customers don’t like waiting. But some things make the wait tolerable. Other things make it miserable. Which are you giving them?

You can help keep customers patient if you treat them well and keep the wait within their expectations. A new study from research consumer group Which? shows what customers hate about holding, and what they’ll tolerate.

The most dreaded

Here’s what they dread hearing from a recorded voice:

  • We value your call (47%)
  • You can visit our website at … (28%), and
  • We’re sorry, but all of our representatives are busy right now (11%)

The main reason: None of this sounds genuine.

For one, customers feel that if a company valued their business, it’d have enough people available to answer them when they called. The push to a website makes customers feel like companies don’t want to talk the them.

This makes the wait worse

Once they’re forced to wait, they’re frustrated having to listen to these features:

  • A busy tone (29%)
  • Rock music (22%), and
  • Background “wallpaper” music (21%).

Customers’ frustrations spread to the messages that interrupt the hold-time noises. They’re annoyed the most by hearing:

  • We’re sorry to keep you waiting. Did you know you can find a range of answers to questions on our website? (73%)
  • You can call back later or continue to hold (23%), and
  • You’re currently Number X in the queue (4%).

What’s tolerable

So what do they tolerate? A wait for help that is less than five-minutes.

Beyond that, it’s important to know what customers find useful when they must wait.

According to the survey, customers said these are the most useful features you can offer when they’re on hold:

  • A regularly updated message telling them how much longer they will have to wait (33%)
  • A message telling them where they are in the queue (32%), and
  • An offer to be called back if they leave a number (30%).

Get the message right

Here are top tips on making creative hold-time messages that customers will actually like. They’re from the messaging experts at EasyOnHold.

  1. Balance the content mix with the hold time length. If hold times are more than two minutes, try trivia. Customers often enjoy it. Under two minutes, avoid trivia.
  2. Stay focused on one topic, no matter the content — trivia, product information or company details — you decide to use.
  3. Change the music. Variety makes hold times seem shorter and more interesting. Plus, with different music, you have a better chance of hitting on each customer’s musical interest.
  4. Use both male and female voices in your messages for more variety.
  5. Change it up. Update information or music several times a year.

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