Why Would Your Business Ever Place Someone on Hold?

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Businesses, I've got a bone to pick with you. We spend 20 minutes a week on hold.

That's over 43 days of our lives(!) spent listening to low quality audio and automated messages telling us how "important" we are to your company. Have you ever noticed the irony in that?

"Thank you for holding. Your call is important to us. That's why we're not bothering to have anyone available to speak with you."

Waiting on hold is a joke.

Waiting on hold ecard

Some of you agree. Some of think this is aggressive, that 20 minutes a week isn't that big of a deal, and that we should all have a little more patience.

That's absurd.

It's unnecessary! 

There are a dozen other ways to handle customers without eating away at people's lives.

What happens when you leave customers waiting on hold?

Consumers today expect immediacy, and why shouldn't we?

Nearly any wish can be granted at the snap of a finger. That's not being entitled, that's technological advancement. Use it!

Waiting and being patient is not a big deal. Waiting on hold for 10 seconds while you pull up a file is not a big deal.

But here's what is a big deal. Here's how much you're hurting your business by placing people on hold.

Lost Business Cartoon

86% of phone calls to businesses are placed on hold. 86%! Who is that good for? (Absolutely no one, say it again!)

What's worse is that 32% of those callers hang up immediately when you place them on hold.

How many of those were potential customers? How many of those just went to the next business on the list to work with?

Related: 4 Effortless Business Texting Strategies to Increase Sales

So 86% of calls you answer are placed on hold, and 32% of them hang up immediately.


An additional 58% of those callers you've placed on hold will hang up within 5 minutes.

All-in, 90% of people you place on hold hang up within 5 minutes of waiting. Who is that good for?

Here's a great (terrible?) example from someone in our office, and the motivation behind this piece.

Waiting on hold screenshot

How is that acceptable?

It shouldn't be! You're missing out on business.

You're hurting your own reputation. And you're encouraging all of those callers to work with your competitors!

Is there a solution to waiting on hold?

Technology is a beautiful thing, and services like call waiting and automated navigation can really increase "efficiency." But at what cost?

It's a terrible experience for customers, and that's devastating to your bottom line.

Every business has their reasons for and ways of justifying placing people on hold, but it's unnecessary.

Use email. Use live chat. Let them text you. Hire more people to field calls!

The numbers don't lie, and the fact that every single person understands this terrible customer experience is a testament that it shouldn't happen.

Who is it good for?

Related: 8 Benefits of Texting for Business That You Desperately Need