Consumers hate waiting on hold. In fact, it’s the biggest customer service complaint, as more than half of all Americans say they spend 10 to 20 minutes each week waiting to reach a live support agent, according to a TalkTo study. Moreover, nearly 6 in 10 consumers say waiting on hold for just one minute is too long, while nearly a third are unwilling to wait for any amount of time.
Successful businesses can’t afford irritated customers. But fortunately, the technology of today provides some unique ways to reduce customer on-hold time and make the waiting game less irritating. Here are four keys to creating a more favorable on-hold system for your customers.
1. Use AI to Provide Smart Menu Options
One method many companies use to avoid putting customers on hold is to deploy interactive voice response, which presents customers with automated menu options that they can select by talking. IVR technology works best when menu options are relevant to customers.
Unfortunately, this can sometimes backfire if customers are forced to wade through multiple irrelevant menu options before reaching a live support agent or, worse yet, getting stuck in a loop. Ultimately, you can end up with a customer who’s furious with your IVR before they ever reach a live support agent.
A solution to prevent losing customers is to use an IVR powered by artificial intelligence that can handle natural language processing. Rather than presenting a fixed set of menu options, an AI-powered IVR system can help infer why a customer is contacting your business and present relevant menu options to address their needs. If the customer wants to speak with a live support agent, they can simply indicate as such instead of waiting through a long series of irrelevant options.
2. Use IVR to Accelerate Response Time
In order to present customers with more relevant menu options, one strategy many companies are finding effective is to use an IVR integrated with a contact center cloud solution. A cloud contact center can integrate IVR with data about a customer’s account from other support channels, including email, live chat and texting.
Coupled with AI, this can allow your IVR to rapidly cross-reference the customer’s phone number with other relevant information in order to predict what they’re most likely calling about. This lets your IVR present customized menu options instead of giving these customers a list of one-size-fits-all options.
3. Offer a Callback Option for Customers
Waiting on hold is no picnic, but the ability to input your phone number with an automated IVR and receive a callback later in the day can be a godsend for busy working financial professionals. In fact, almost two-thirds of customers would rather receive a callback than wait on hold, according to Software Advice.
This research also indicated most customers would be willing to wait up to five minutes before given the option to receive a callback. To that end, your company’s IVR can be set up in such a way to let customers know how much longer they can expect to wait on hold before offering them the callback option.
4. Deploy Strategies To Make Holding Less Stressful
For customers who must wait on hold, it’s important to deploy strategies — including the playing of background music or brief updates on when they can expect to reach a live support agent — that will make waiting a more favorable experience.
To customers who wait on hold without any background music, holding for 30 seconds seems can seem like 90 seconds, while playing music, according to research by AT&T research. Indeed, playing background music mixed with periodic updates on an estimated wait time, can keep waiting customers more content.
Employing IVR with AI natural language processing, cloud integration, callback options and background music are four strategies that can improve your on-hold system. Adopting these strategies can direct customers more quickly to relevant options, reduce customer wait time, make hold time less frustrating, and boost customer satisfaction.