3 Studies Showing Why You Shouldn't Put Customers on Hold (2024)

No one likes being put on hold. It’s a red flag whenputting customers on hold becomes part of the natural rhythm of live agents. Let’s take a look at 3 studies that show how putting customers on hold can impact a business and the customers experience.

Placed on Hold

Overuse of the hold function can indicate knowledge or training gaps with live agents. These gaps can produce operational inefficiencies, lead to bad information being shared and lower customer confidence in the answer they receive. Why shouldn’t customers be put on hold? Studies show that they don’t like waiting for help, and then they tend to hang up out of frustration. In turn, this costs companies money which can lead to lost business.

There have been studies done on the use of hold and the results aren’t surprising – callers don’t like it and they tend to hang up. This has a negative impact on companies. When callers languish on hold, it’s costly to companies because of the lost business and the accrued telecom and application costs associated with that call.

Hang Ups

According to an article on PRWeb regarding research conducted by Velaro on 2,500 customers in 2012, almost 60% of customers waiting on hold for one minute would hang up. When asked how long they were willing to be put on hold:

  • 27.6% said 1 minute
  • 32.3% – about one-third of respondents said they were not willing to wait at all
  • Only 4.1% said they’d wait as long it took.

“Today’s consumers expect an efficient interaction and are no longer willing to wait unnecessarily,” noted Velaro VP Jeff Mason.


Adding a callback option drastically changed the thoughton this subject. Another survey referenced by Software Advice sought to determine caller preference between waiting on hold or receiving a callback once an agent is available. Most customers preferred a callback.

The survey polled over 1,100 consumers and found that the “majority—63%—preferred callback. This data suggests that companies that are often forced to make customers wait on hold should consider adding a callback option to their phone system.”

With callback (e.g. virtual hold technology) capability, an automated voice system lets callers choose between continuing to wait on hold or receiving a callback. This is important to customer service because it gives callers more control and flexibility with their time by providing callers with a choice. If they choose a callback, the system can interact with the contact center system to dial customers back when an agent is free—automatically, via outbound calling.

Callback relies on automated voice technology. When a caller chooses a callback, the IVR system that accepts the request can communicate directly with the call center system. It places an outbound call to the customer and connects that call to an available agent. All of this takes place without additional human intervention.

According to Software Advice’s Craig Borowski, the company behind the survey, call centers have been at the forefront of technology use, employing advances like auto-dialers, voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP), and computer-telephony integration (CTI).

“A large portion of the developments, though, focus on streamlining call center operations, increasing efficiencies, and boosting the bottom line,” Borowski wrote via email. “Other areas of development, such as those that focus on improving customer experience, have sometimes taken a back seat.”

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It’s Not Going Away

The problem with this is that we know how critical customer experience is to customer satisfaction and retention. That’s why Plum Voice has created tools to assist with building IVR systems. Plum Fuse and Plum DEV are designed to address both operational efficiency and the customer experience.

As communications technology continues to improve, customers’ expectations will increase and require a faster response. That’s why overall customer experience is such an important differentiator.

An article from CBS News’ MoneyWatch, suggests that “Nothing says, ‘We care’ quite like picking up the phone on the first ring or answering an email quickly.” This article also provides a list of the companies with the fastest callback and return email times.

Caller Patience

Another study, from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, examined caller patience. Some may say that the title of the study’s press release cuts to the quick: “Hang Up or Hold On? Study Helps Call Centers Know When Patience Is Running Out.” In the study, researchers looked at 1.3 million calls placed to a bank’s call center and used that data to develop “a more accurate approach to modeling caller patience than ever before.”

“Knowing when a person decides to hang up or hang on is vital to streamlining call center operations, minimizing caller frustration, and maximizing each customer service encounter,” the study’s authors stated. “The previous models used assumptions of caller abandonment that were easy to apply and analyze but didn’t provide a reasonable picture of people’s patience.”

In our data-driven world, call center performance analysis gets even more complicated, forcing businesses to take it more seriously. “When a call center alters its discipline to improve speed and service, add agents or change call routing and priority, we theorize those things should influence caller patience,” the study claimed. “And our model shows that such improvements do indeed make a difference in whether people decide to hang up or hang on.”

Customer Experience Is More Important Than Ever

With businesses paying more attention to wait times and customer experience, it’s more important than ever for companies to ensure that they have the right technology solutions to meet their customers’ needs.

Whether businesses choose to automate frequent calls or provide callback services, they need modern technology to get the job done right. Plum Voice offers reliable, secure, cloud IVR platforms that deliver great customer experiences. The Plum Voice platform includes VoiceTrends, a built-in data and analytics toolkit tailored specifically to measure the performance of voice applications built with Plum Voice’s DEV, Fuse and Insight tools.

Contact us today to learn how our tools can help you build customer service solutions fast, without the frustration of waiting on hold.

3 Studies Showing Why You Shouldn't Put Customers on Hold (2024)


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