Call center operation is a highly discussed subject to ensure smooth process management. There are a lot of aspects of cloud telephony in call centers that need attention, be it the call flow or hold time. Each of these plays a vital role.
To prove this point, here is a short illustration.
Max booked a movie ticket via a popular online ticket-booking platform but got no link to the movie ticket even when the amount was deducted from his account. He was infuriated and was quite disturbed; who wouldn’t be?
He called their customer care number, and they put him in the queue for around 15 minutes or more. It was getting late before anyone answered his call, so he lost his patience.
He used his Twitter account and other social media platforms to voice his disappointments. He openly criticized the organization online. This happens when you take too long to answer the call made by your customers.
People calling customer care numbers often are in a disturbed or confused state. Keeping their call on hold for a longer duration only aggravates their situation. According to Call Center Helper, over 50% of sales callers ended the call after waiting 45 seconds.
This fact makes it crucial to devise and follow ways to reduce hold time in call centers. This article will highlight ways to help avoid disappointed customers like Max from losing their patience further!
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The prime factors causing longer hold time in the call center
The reasons can be many, but the commonly spotted are-
- Agents stretching the call time longer unnecessarily
- Ineffective and poor hold procedure or IVR
- Not using feature-rich and assured quality ACD
- Poor alternative customer care support channels
- Inadequate and ineffective self-service options available for callers
- Poor management both by the agents and the supervisors
- Less number of staff employed
- Old and obsolete contact center technology
These are primarily responsible for prolonging the hold period, which frustrates callers beyond measure.
The report says 75% of people become “highly annoyed” when their call remains unanswered for a long time. Call center professionals need to focus on handling the issues seriously.
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Possible solutions for addressing the issues efficiently
It is not impossible to reduce hold time in call centers if certain measures are taken. You can resolve this drawback in several ways in your call center or any telephone service-providing organization.
An unhappy customer can be a threat to the reputation of your business. They look for faster answers and quick solutions when they dial your numbers.
1. Have a hold time standard and adhere to it
The average hold time is usually around 20 seconds. As a responsible call center agent, you should answer a call within the first 20 seconds. If, for some reason, you cannot, then ensure that you check in with the customer (apologize to the caller for doing late) and inform them that you are still working on their query.
After that, do not take the liberty to repeatedly tell them the same thing (“We are connecting you to our executive”). As per a reliable source, a maximum number of callers hang up after being on hold for an average of 1 minute and 55 seconds.
2. You cannot ignore call routing optimization
To answer the calls rapidly, it is crucial to optimize call routing. It will help you to route the calls to the most qualified agent within the shortest possible time frame, who can answer the customers most appropriately. IVR or other advanced call routing strategies will be of immense help.
ACD, or automatic call distribution, is ideal for reducing hold time considerably. These can eliminate unnecessary time transferring calls from one department/agent to another.
3. Keep a handy easily-available knowledge base
Call center agents also keep the callers on hold when they cannot quickly access vital information (related to the customer).
The organizations must invest in advanced quality tools (like CRM software) that provide the agent with past communication history (if they called previously), basic details, query-related data, and other such information. The data stored in the knowledge base should be routinely updated.
The software should come with impressive integration capabilities. It should facilitate automatic updation of all integrated business tools and information in one system. It reduces hold time and enhances customers’ experience by triggering the first call resolution rate.
4. Monitor the calls to evaluate the agent’s performance
Even if an agent takes unnecessary time to answer queries or deliver support. Automatic Call Distribution generally comes with features that allow listening to an agency during a live call. The ACD collects call metrics to assess and evaluate the agents’ performance.
Empowering the agents to answer better has a profound effect on shortening hold time in call centers. It will be highly beneficial if you can expand the authority and enhance the know-how of the agents to make informed decisions. Calls escalated to managers, increasing the wastage of time.
Such an evaluation will help the supervisor or the managers to pinpoint the areas that need attention and give proper training to the agents.
5. Make available contact options (including ‘call back’)
One can reduce hold time significantly by keeping open self-service contact options for the customers. SMS, Email, and live chat options are ways customers can make a query or a complaint and then do their work without waiting for answers.
The agent will respond the moment they get it. The chatbox and virtual knowledge base should be so easy that even a child can handle it.
While making calls, the “Call Back” option can help a lot in reducing time wastage for the callers. Mention the period within which they can expect the call, and you better respond to them according to the time frame only.
Add the “Click-to-Call” option on your mobile responsive website to help your targeted customers satisfy their queries without waiting. Customers must enter their contact number and request a ‘call-back’ from the next available agent.
If followed religiously and smartly, all these ways are a long way in minimizing hold time in your call center. Remember, a dissatisfied or angry customer is not just a lost business prospect but a threat to your business reputation (both online and offline).