Putting callers on hold may seem unavoidable, especially during the busiest times for your business. But surveys show customers really don’t like it. In fact, one survey found that about 60% of customers aren’t willing to be put on hold for more than a minute—and will likely hang up if they are.


Given that lengthy phone hold times can damage your customer experience, try to do all in your power to keep them minimal, or eliminate them altogether. Here are five ways to do that:


1. Supply employees with key information

Chances are, most people calling your business inquire about the same few basic topics—such as your hours of operation, your pricing or details about your products or services. Make it easy for your employees to answer these questions without having to put callers on hold.


This could be as simple as giving employees a quick-tip sheet with answers to the most frequently asked questions—and keeping it right next to their phones. Or it could be putting that commonly asked-about information on your company intranet or in an easy-to-find place in, say, your customer relationship management (CRM) platform.


A CRM also makes it easy for employees to quickly look up a customer’s past interactions with the company, so employees don’t have to go digging through emails, computer files or paper records.


2. Use your business phone system strategically

Your business phone provider may offer features that can help you greatly reduce or even eliminate phone hold times. For example, Spectrum Business Phone allows you to set up simultaneous ring so that incoming calls ring on multiple lines at the same time, allowing any available employee to answer it. Similarly, sequential ring (sometimes called call hunting) will send a call through to multiple lines until someone picks it up. This means only employees who have time to speak with a caller immediately can answer. 


Your auto attendant can also help. It can provide a menu of employees or departments, so callers can get directed to the right place right away without needing the call to be transferred. Moreover, the auto attendant can provide callers with important key information—such as your business hours—so they don’t have to speak with an employee.


3. Make your website user-friendly

Likewise, fewer people will need to speak with your employees if your website answers their questions—such as publishing your hours of operation, address and pricing information in an easy-to-find place. As a bonus, this will free up your employees’ time from having to field calls, so they can focus on higher-value tasks.


Some companies now use chatbots or live chat to help website visitors get answers to their questions quickly. An automated chatbot, for example, can provide pre-created answers to common questions around the clock. It can also help customers schedule appointments or do other basic activities, so they don’t have to call your business.


Another way to automate customer service: Consider providing your customers with an automated bill-payment system, so they can pay bills themselves online or over the phone without needing to interact with an employee directly.


4. Produce online guides and video tutorials

If your employees often have to spend long periods on the phone giving details on how to address certain problems or questions, consider putting together online tutorials or video tutorials that can provide those details instead.


TechLoris, a tech support provider in Brookline, Massachusetts, reduced its customer hold times by writing blog posts to help customers navigate common technology issues. Employees can then send customers those blog posts instead of having to spend a lot of time explaining things over the phone. 


We encouraged staff to look for hot topics that come up when customers ring, and we started writing a blog with guides to the most common tech problems,” CEO Shayne Sherman says. 


5. Call customers back instead of putting them on hold

Some large companies that traditionally have had long hold times—such as airlines or retailers—now use callback software that automatically calls customers when they’re ready to talk, instead of putting those customers on hold. 


That way, customers don’t feel like you’re wasting their time.


And if you don’t want to invest in callback software, there’s always the old-fashioned solution: Write down the customer’s phone number and let them know you’ll call them back as soon as you’re available.


Spectrum Business Phone offers many advanced features for free that will help your business better manage customer on-hold times. Contact us at 855-299-9353 to learn more.

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