What is hold time?

Hold time is the total amount of time a customer service agent puts a caller on hold during an exchange.

Average hold time – the measure of the average amount of time callers are placed on hold – is a performance metric that can be used to evaluate the success of a call center. Improving the average hold time is important for most customer support centers, as it actively reduces friction for customers and enhances their overall experience.

How do you measure average hold time?

Average hold time is measured by taking the total time callers spent waiting on hold in a given time period, divided by the total number of callers during that same time period. Teams that measure average hold time on a month-to-month basis would take the total amount of time callers spent on hold that month, and divide that number by the total number of callers that month. They can then use that data to see how they performed compared to the previous month, or set a target for the following month.

Why does hold time matter?

Everyone wants to feel like their query or concern is a priority. As such, a long average call hold time can make a significant dent in the overall customer experience. The longer the hold, the more likely callers are to drop the call and lose faith in the brand.

Customers that have particularly bad experiences with a brand, such as a long time waiting on the phone, are more likely to share those experiences with others. As a result, a high average hold time makes it harder to build trust and has the potential to negatively impact a brand’s image.

What can cause long hold times?

There are a number of factors that can impact average hold times in call centers. These include:

  • Not enough staff, or not enough staff with the right skill set. As teams review their performance, they should consider bringing in new people or upskilling their current staff as appropriate.
  • A lack of self-service options that encourage customers to find the solution on their own before calling in. This could include a knowledge base or an automated chat bot that answers frequently asked questions.
  • No omnichannel support strategy that gives individuals more options through which to contact support staff, rather than just offering a phone number.
  • No smart functionalities that streamline the customer engagement process. This could look like a callback service that puts the caller in a queue, allowing the individual to continue going about their day knowing they will hear back – rather than having to wait on the phone.

Proactively addressing these challenges can go a long way to raising the return on investment of a call center, both in terms of customer satisfaction and an improved brand image.

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