The 4 Techniques Large Companies Use to Reduce Call Center Hold Times

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As a customer, few things are more frustrating than waiting on hold to speak with a customer reserve representative – it makes you feel unimportant. As a business, it should be one of your primary objectives to reduce long on-hold times and keep the phone lines moving.

Four Practical Tips

How long do your callers wait on hold before hanging up, on average? According to one study, 15 percent of callers don’t last longer than 40 seconds. In other words, you may have less than a minute to keep callers on the line. If they hang up, they leave frustrated and angry with your brand.

While it’s not always possible to immediately connect every caller with an agent, you can reduce call center hold times pretty significantly by doing the following:

1. Staff Appropriately

Want to know the leading cause of long on-hold call times? It’s actually pretty simple and obvious: inadequate staffing. If you have 100 calls coming in every hour and you only have five call center agents, then something is wrong.

As simple math shows, you’re expecting each agent to handle 20 calls an hour. That assumes an average of three minutes per call with no breaks. Pretty unrealistic!

It’s important that you collect data and study your call center performance on a regular basis. You need to know what sort of call volume comes in on a given day, how long it takes for your agents to process a call, what your target on-hold time is, etc. Using this information, you can better staff your call center for both slow and peak times.

This is something rental company Anna Maria Vacations has gotten better at through the years. After implementing TRACK, a cloud based call center that allows companies to identify trends in caller data, Anna Maria Vacations was able to properly staff their call center during peak times (between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.) and collect 750 leads, worth nearly $118,000, in just two months.

2. Give Agents the Right Tools

Your call center agents need the right tools in order to properly serve customers. Knowledge is power in the customer service scenario – and the more information you can supply an agent with, the better they can solve an issue in a timely manner. There are a variety of call center tools on the market and you’ll have to identify which ones fit your organization the best.

3. Offer Alternative Options

Part of reducing call center hold times is eliminating the number of customers that contact you via phone. One way you can do this is by offering alternative options for support. Different mediums include email, online chat support, and social media.

4. Give Customers Opportunities for Self-Service

The final suggestion is to give your customers the opportunity to handle issues on their own. According to research, 40 percent of people prefer self-service to human contact when it comes to an issue with a particular product or service.

Thankfully, self-service helps out your call center, too. There are a variety of ways to create self-service opportunities. You can do this through an online chat bot, a community message board, robust blog content, YouTube tutorials, or any number of other methods.

Make Customer Satisfaction Your Biggest Priority

Ultimately, it all comes down to customer satisfaction. Reducing call center hold times is just one way you can accomplish this. While it may seem like a simple task, it actually takes a fair amount of focus and effort.

Try implementing the tips referenced in this article and you’ll forever shift the way you view your call center.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.