We’ve all heard this statement when waiting in queue for the next agent, it’s now up there with “Hold Please” as an annoyance for most people.

As with most phrasing that catches on, you can find it everywhere from elevators, callcentres and even car parks! It gets even better when you’re trying to pay a bill or get something done when you’ve not much time.

The industry word for these is “comfort messages”, yet the reality is beginning to look like anything but. Sure, if the message is played once, followed by an agent picking up the call everything is great – yet many customers have to listen to this message multiple times on loop before speaking to anyone.

So is there anything else that can be done?

Customers now have a higher expectation of service

With the rise of self-service and instant feedback, many customers now expect a quick response when they call a phone line. Poor service experience is become a much larger factor in loyalty and advocacy – with high wait times leading to many results that hurt your bottom line.

  • Reduced ability to up-sell: Customers won’t entertain the idea of an up-sell if they perceive your standards of service to be low anyway. They also won’t have the time to talk if valuable minutes have been wasted in waiting for an agent.
  • Retention: Unfortunately, many industries thrive on new customers, rather than keeping their existing ones. For this reason, poor service and wait times directly lead to you customer being tempted to move elsewhere.
  • New customers: Ever dialled a new customer sales line, getting through to a sales person within seconds? Then, when your new customer needs to resolve a minor issue, they’re forced to suffer your service line and it’s lengthy wait time. This serves as a rather large “red flag” that your company probably isn’t the great deal they may have been promised.
  • Bad news travels fast: Customers are always more eager to share their experiences of poor service rather than good ones. Social media and review websites now make it even easy to broadcast any negative dealings with your company.

What are the alternatives?

1. Introduce self-service

Frequently performed actions should always be the first ones to introduce self-service for. By targetting these first, you can begin to tailor your service so that customers who genuinely need agent help can get it – leaving the rest to help themselves.

You can also look to advertise and shift customers from one service channel into another. For example; sending a text message to customers who call your support number that advertises a self-service website or app. By doing this, a percentage of customers will actively drop from your inbound line – preferring to handle their account online instead.

2. Tell customers how long they will wait or their position in queue

Instead of a generic “Your call is important to us”, offering a wait time and/or “you’re number X in the queue” message is a far better option. Customers can then gauge whether they have the time to wait for an agent, leaving it later if they need to.

In both of these cases, it’s best to offer a conservative estimate of wait time. Underestimating wait time, will likely introduce another pain point for your customers.

3. Call back during quieter times

Every callcentre goes through quiet periods during the week. By opting to let your customers know when those periods are, you can lessen the load during busy times and spread the workload more evenly.

Mentioning when your quiet periods are, is always a more helpful approach than telling customers to stop calling during busy periods.

4. Agent callbacks

One easy way to help with queue times, is to use callbacks. Here, customers can select a menu option to add themselves to a callback list – removing them from the live queue. You can also ensure that callbacks are added in order, so that no customer is left without a callback for extended periods.

The main benefit to this, is that you’re giving your customer options. The only issue you will come up against, is allowing agents the time to conduct callbacks periodically – difficult if your busy periods carry on for hours at a time.


By implementing some, or even all of the tips above, you can begin to turn lengthy wait times around. Even better than that, some of the ideas above give customers the option of what happens next – a huge deal when it comes to customer loyalty.

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