Is it the wait they hate?

Waiting is an inevitable fact of life. Online, in line, and on the phone, waiting would appear to be despised by all customers. So your goal should be to remove the wait, right?

Not so fast.

New research from Ryan W. Buell and Michael I. Norton at the Harvard Business Review shows that customers who wait actually report a better overall experience when they see progress in their wait.

In one experiment, the majority of people preferred a slower experience when they could see the work being done on their behalf!

Twitter is full of people complaining about being On-Hold with companies:

Sedric_RT: been on hold for 40 mins!!!

priteshpatel9: And on top of that…..on hold for 14 mins and counting.

SimmiSweet: Omg how long are u gonna keep me on hold ??

Tsgjd@lafinguy it can always be worse. They should have a status page somewhere so we no not to bother to call and wait on hold.

harmonyjoyyy: *music stops* Thank you for holding. I know it sounds like someone is about to pick up, but nope. You’re still on hold. *music continues*

So what if you focused on crafting a better caller experience? Not saying you shouldn’t evaluate why people are being put On-Hold. It’s just that there is no way to handle every call all the time, with no transfers, or no wait time.

So rather than aiming for the unrealistic goal of eliminating On-Hold time, implement a two-pronged approach:

1. Evaluate why people are On-Hold, and determine if you can lower that by reviewing your business processes, and empowering your front-line people.

2. Create an experience for those people that DO have to be On-Hold, that informs them of your progress, and shows them some of the work going on behind the scenes.

In the end, you may well have happier customers. And customers that are more likely to recommend your company to their friends!

2 Responses to “Is it the wait they hate?”

  1. Monica Ballard says:

    NEW RESEARCH?! Great gosh-a-mighty! I knew it had to be out there. Can we stop using the AT&T study from the 1990’s now? (The smart companies such as YOURS already have!) Thanks!

    • Chester Hull says:

      Thanks for the comment Monica. I agree. I was really intrigued by what Ryan and Michael found. Too often we draw conclusions from True But Useless (TBU) Information. What people really want is to know they’re being taken care of!

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