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Is There a Good Hold Time For a Business?

Posted on July 5, 2011 by Arianna

In this “Faster is the new Fast” world we live in, waiting is not an option. We can buy cars that get from 0 to 60 in fewer than 5 seconds, and we can even get a college degree in less than 2 years. Our culture is becoming obsessed with speed, so why are we spending so much time on hold?

Customer Service Cartoon

Recently I have been diving into the idea of ideal hold time and have found a lot of interesting articles; however, these articles bring up a lot of great questions. How long would you wait for a customer service representative to pick up your call? If you’ve ever needed to get in touch with customer service, do you know exactly how long is too long to wait? At what time would you give up and hang up? Five minutes, eight minutes maybe even ten minutes? The truth is most of us will not wait for longer than 5 minutes.

Stella Service recently ranked the largest 100 Internet retailers in the US based on their average call hold time (data below). This was an eye opening presentation as the top company has a hold time of only six seconds. I also have to say that it was very surprising that not only came in at the top of the average call hold time but was also the only company that also made it to the top of the average email reply time as well. Apparently they understand the need to connect with the customer as fast as possible.

Another interesting note is that the average of all the top 100 businesses is about 1 minute and 40 seconds, which means they all have a pretty good grasp on the importance of getting on the phone quickly. The email is a little more surprising as the average is 17 hours for an email response. I wonder if we will see this start dropping in the next year.

Average Hold Time Stats

Average Email Time Stats

Average call hold time has been one of our main focuses at We started this year with a high average hold time and knew that our connect rate with customers was less than average. We began fixing the issue by hiring more customer service representatives; because we all know that no matter how many calls a representative can take, if there are more calls than available representatives, hold times will sky rocket. We monitored the hold time monthly and made any necessary shift in tasks in order to continue lowering our hold time and increasing our connect rate. Our hold time has greatly decreased, and this has been a huge success for us!

Though we may not be in the 100 companies and though our hold time is nowhere near 0:27 seconds, our focus still remains. We will continue to lower our average call hold time and will strive to connect with at least 90% of our calls. Once that is accomplished our next step is to revamp our hold music...wish us luck!

What are some of the things you are doing to impact your company average call hold time?


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