12 Tips to Reduce Customer Hold Times

Reducing the amount of time your customers stay on hold will not only result in shorter handle times, but will make your customers more satisfied and your agents a lot happier.

Here are 12 tips to reduce the amount of time your customers wait on hold in your contact center:

1. Expand your agents’ authority to make decisions. Customers detest waiting on hold while an agent tracks down a higher authority to make a simple decision.

2. Create a robust on-line knowledge base agents can access quickly and easily. The best way to get the resource used is to involve your agents in the design.

3. Update the information in the knowledge base. Agents won’t use it if they can’t trust the information to be accurate.

4. Include the agent’s efficient use of the on-line knowledge base as a basic requirement of their job.

5. Coach agents on call control techniques to enable them to manage their customer interactions efficiently.

6. Have zero tolerance for agents who put customers on hold so they can chitchat with their neighbors. (It happens!)

7. Avoid relying on new agents to “learn on the job.” It’s not fair to customers to sit on hold while an under-trained newbie turns to a co-worker or supervisor to get the right answer.

8. If your customer satisfaction surveys reveal a trend in complaints about having to hold too long when working with an agent, dig into the root causes.

9. Have a sense of urgency yourself. When you take an escalated call make sure you handle the interaction as quickly as possible.

10. Train your agents to always give the customer the option to hold or to receive a call back. Giving your customers a choice makes them feel more in control.

11. Make sure that the ability to manage hold time during the call is included in agents’ call quality criteria.

12. Get internal departments to be more responsive. Too often when an agent puts a customer on hold so they can ask another department a quick question, no one is available to help.

This article was originally published in 2012 and is frequently updated

Barbara Burke is principal of Barbara Burke & Associates and specializes in contact center issues.