Executives Spend 1 to 30 Minutes on Hold Each Day

With time being such a precious commodity for people in work today, too much of that time is being wasted by being put on hold on the phone.

Businesspeople at all levels are put on hold on a regular basis, and many of them are not happy about it. For business issues, more than three quarters of senior executives and managers spend from 1 to 30 minutes on hold on a typical day, based on a new nationwide survey by NFI Research.

For personal matters, 73 percent of business leaders spend from 1 to 30 minutes on hold, based on the survey over a base of more than 1,000 senior executives and managers.

What companies might be missing is the unseen fallout from putting executives and managers on hold.

“I hang up when I get put on hold for more than five minutes,” said one survey respondent. “I then change to services that do not put me on hold. There are some services I do not have which I wish I had because I refuse to stay on hold.”

“I will generally hang up if I’m placed on hold,” said another respondent, while another said he hangs up if being on hold beyond 30 seconds.

Said another: “I am not one to wait on hold for very long no matter who the intended contact is. I will alter my plans or change my associations based upon responsiveness. There is always an alternative to wasting time on hold. Good customer service is not pleasant hold music.”

When it comes to being put on hold, company size and rank in the organization have no bearing, as the survey showed that there were no significant differences based on company size or title.

It’s not always just being on hold or being forced to listen to music while waiting that annoys some managers. For some, it is the method of being put on hold.

“In particular, I dislike being called and upon answering the phone, being asked to hold for someone who will be getting on the phone,” said one survey respondent. “Unless it is the result of a call I am aware (at the time) that I initiated, I will hang up promptly in such cases.”

“I rarely stay on hold,” said one manager. “If the person does not get back to me very quickly, I hang up and call them later or usually wait for them to call me.”

“On hold” discriminates against no one, and as a result executives and managers are put on hold regularly, but they don’ t like it. However, hanging up is not always the best solution, if connecting with a party on the other end is required.

“Technology is a wonderful thing and we’ve become a society that we want what we want when we want it,” said one survey respondent. “Holding on the phone is such an irritant that by the time a live person comes you can’t always be calm and collected. The down side of it all is if you hang up and call back you have to hold anyway and, of course, then your need is greater, so you are really irritated.”

With so many businesses putting customers and business associates on hold, it can be refreshing to quickly get to a real person on the phone, even of not yet the person being sought.

“It is very annoying to call firms and get the automated switchboard and even worse when you get messages that you party is not available,” said another manager. “When will they be available, are they on vacation, fired (I once left messages for six weeks for a person who had resigned and no one called to tell me)? We have a receptionist who knows where people are and our clients appreciate it.”

While technology has allowed many phone voice options in an attempt to lead customers to the correct department or person, hold time may be causing customers to defect.

Perhaps executives and managers frustrated with being put on hold by a company should contact that company’s sales department, since that is where the impact will be felt first.

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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