Hold Time: How to Optimize It and Get More Satisfied Customers
Every contact center places calls with their customers on hold for different purposes: either to consult with more experienced colleagues to get answers to some questions or to make some notes. Some hold time is understandable, but if an agent has consistently high average hold times, they probably need some training or coaching.
Even though the reasons may be various, the common fact is that the average hold time is a very important contact center metrics that influences agents’ efficiency and customer satisfaction rates.
In this blog, we will discuss the possible ways of optimizing average hold time and figure out how it helps your contact center grow faster.
What is the average hold time?
The average hold time is a call center metric that measures the average length of time agents put callers on hold during a customer call. It includes talk time, call hold time, and time spent on final operations that the agent performs after the call ends. The client can choose to wait or call back later.
The main causes for putting a customer on hold
The most widespread causes why the agent can put a customer on hold are:
- transferring the call to the supervisor, another department, or any other responsible person;
- checking some scripts or guides for information or hints;
- asking colleagues for help without transferring the conversation to them.
Since we have already dealt with the “on hold” causes, let’s consider the main ways of improving the customer service quality.
Nectar Desk’s Tip #1: Monitor Agent Call Performance
Our call center solution has a number of features that allow you to listen in on calls or talk to your agents during a live call (during which the customer can’t hear you – only the agent can) using barge-in or whisper-in features. These listening features allow you to help agents with complex calls, pinpoint where customer interactions are taking a wrong turn, or what specific things are leading to happy customer interactions. Call monitoring is an invaluable tool for expediting agent training, reducing escalated calls to management, and reducing call transfers – all of which decrease handle time and on-hold time in the call center.
Tip #2: Record Calls
As a supervisor, you may not be able to monitor complex calls 24/7, but with the efficient call center solution, you can listen to the call recordings. Use the recordings to consistently identify agent inefficiencies and other issues that increase handle time – and act on your findings. Find several examples of well-handled and poorly handled calls and use them when training new call center agents. Include a variety of common case scenarios so that your agents know how to handle these inquiries quickly and efficiently, which will help reduce on-hold times. With Nectar Desk’s call recording feature you can also be sure that all information, provided by agents is accurate, and procedures are being followed appropriately.
Tip #3: Keep an Intelligent Knowledge Base to Reduce Hold Time
Once agents have quick access to relevant information that helps them answer common questions quickly dand move the calls forward, the “on hold” time will be reduced. Make a robust knowledge base (spreadsheet, datasheets, shortcuts on your company website, or document) available and easily accessible to reference during a call. The faster your agents can access commonly requested information, the faster customers can be helped. In addition to having this information available to your customers online, have a special desktop version made for your agents so that if the internet connection is slow or not responding, they can still access the information quickly for customers.
Tip #4: Don’t Neglect the Intelligent Call Routing
Thanks to intelligent call routing, you can direct customers to the most skilled agent, reducing the need for call transfers and, consequently, reducing average hold times. Instead of delivering a call to the first agent available, who may not be suitable to resolve a specific issue, a skills-based routing implementation ensures the call is sent to the best-skilled available agent. If this is a repeated call, applying a historical-based routing guarantees that the same agent answers the call, providing a seamless experience to the customer.
You can also direct calls to the required department, giving customers the possibility to reach out to the required specialist immediately with no time wasted on hold.
Tip #5: Update The On-Hold Message
Investigation shows that callers who hear music on the line stay on hold an average of 60 seconds longer than those who do not. Keep in mind that the type of music you choose for your call queue can further impact how long a customer is willing, or not willing, to wait.
Another option instead of on-hold music is customized scripts where your latest product or service offering is discussed. This often creates interest among clients and, moreover, keeps them longer on the line.
Average on-hold time is the key metric for every contact center which cares about its customers. In many cases, implementing one of the tips above on how to reduce hold time is enough to significantly reduce customer frustration when interacting with your business over the phone. Focus primarily on the improvements that will yield the greatest results.
And don’t forget to request a demo while you’re not with Nectar Desk’s call center software yet!