Why waiting On-Hold feels so long!

Passing TimeAdam Alter writes an interesting article about the quirks in time perception that we all share. Why does the first hour of a long flight seem SOOO long, while the last several hours all cram together in your mind.

I’ll be you’ve had a similar experience in micro…the last time you called a company and were put On-Hold.  With so many things that need to be done in our busy lives, no one wants to wait, and who could blame us?

Have you been in Best Buy and had to wait in line to checkout? What do you do while you wait? You probably skim the end caps, but I’ll bet you spend most of the wait watching the Best Buy TV program on one of the many screens they have positioned in site. Why do they put those there?
Because when your mind is engaged, it doesn’t think about the amount of time you’ve been waiting. It feels like only a few seconds, when really they’ve been able to play four 1 minute promos for you!

Now back to the On-Hold. If your business is putting people On-Hold, and just having them listen to silence, you’re actually extending the perceived wait time.  How would you like it if Best Buy required you to put on a blindfold while you stood in line? Every second would feel like an hour until you could take that blindfold off!

But if you choose to engage your caller during those inevitable times they have to wait On-Hold, the amount of time they perceive they are waiting will be quite a bit less. Custom On-Hold messaging that is engaging and relevant is just like hanging those screens near the checkout line of Best Buy.

From Adam’s article:

There’s still plenty we don’t understand about how humans perceive time, but one fact is clear: we don’t perceive time the way clocks portray time, one second at a time, with each second passing just as quickly as its earlier and later counterparts.

Sure, nobody likes to wait, but what kind of experience is your company providing for those customers who call in? Is your caller experience a good one? Are you speeding up their clock, or slowing it down?

“…I want to know right now how long you expect me to wait…”

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to the comments for this post with RSS: RSS2 RSS 2.0