Answering Service Tips: How to Cut Down Your Hold Time

Answering Service Tips: How to Cut Down Your Hold Time

It’s a good bet that whoever coined the term “patience is a virtue” never had to wait in line. In this article we explore practical ways to cut down your hold time. In theory, we should be happy that customers like us are receiving quality care, and that whatever company we’re calling has people ready to assist everyone.

But then we wait. And wait. And any patience dissolves into unhappiness. Then we hang up, something that 60 percent of us do before even a minute passes, according to Fonolo.

Clearly, long wait times should be avoided – they can lead to lost sales, larger service issues and customers even more unhappy than when they first placed their call. But at the same time, answering services also want to provide stellar service and make every call a winner.

If you utilize a call center, try the following strategies to help callers but also move them along, especially during spikes of heavier volume.

Call Center Strategies

  • Empower agents to make decisions. An agent may recognize the problem and determine a solution, but may still need to check with someone higher-up. If agents have the authority and freedom to offer routine fixes, such as refunding fees or changing service, and use the manager option for special circumstances, it may reduce wait times.
  • Create an online Knowledge Base. Having an active, robust database of common problems and solutions can give agents the opportunity to learn that this problem has happened before, and how to fix it. Databases do require efforts to maintain, but the staff wouldn’t mind contributing to it during slower times if it benefits everyone.
  • Coach the staff on how to manage calls efficiently. Managers or long-time employees can share successful strategies, rather than simply asking everyone to work on being a little faster.
  • Emphasize the need for speed to new agents. Rather than newcomers learning as they go, include this focus in training so they learn the correct approach from the beginning.
  • Offer to call people back. If a problem appears complicated, callers may appreciate an agent taking extra time for research, especially if it means no more waiting in line and a personal call with a solution.
  • Include other departments. Other internal teams, especially further away from the ‘front line’ of the public, may need to be reminded that they’re all part of the solution, and can have a role in customers being assisted as timely as possible.

Overall, the goal of a quality call center is to help solve customer concerns. But being responsive and ‘keeping the line moving’ so others don’t have long waits is also vital.