Think Customers Hate Waiting? Not So Fast

Nathan Miller

Most of us have experienced the grueling boredom of waiting in line. Oddly, the cost of waiting is often accompanied by emotional turmoil and tediousness. Feelings of stress, anxiety and agitation often go along with the not-so-pleasant experience of standing in a slow-moving line. And the same is true for customers that are placed on hold.

In an ideal world, it’s good news if your customer service representatives could pick up the phone immediately every time a customer calls. However, the reality is that, you’d never have enough contact center agents available to assist your customers all the time. As a result, when the number of incoming calls spikes up, your customers are left with two options: Wait or hang up!

In both cases, even when customers patiently wait in the queue, both options may not be too practical. First, if you have nothing to offer your customers but dead air, you’re already missing the opportunity to provide a better customer service. Secondly, for customers who opt to wait, listening to a boring on hold music or a lousy automated voice prompt can be very annoying.

What you can do to eliminate or at least cut back on those wait times is to greet them professionally and present them with a list of options. Message on Hold (MOH) is the business practice of playing scripted and/or recorded music to fill the silence that would be commonly heard by telephone customers who have been placed on hold.

In customer service context, offering solutions or informing your clients about quality products and services through creative and well scripted on hold messages alleviate wait times. For example, in case an angry customer calls in about a broken product or late shipment, he/she can listen to a professional message on hold accompanied by a soothing music.

 This will not only mitigate the customer’s frustration but will also regulate the number of irate customers that your contact center agents will assist. Now, for those who hang up, the situation will be less likely severe as they may have the liberty to decide if they want to remain, or have the option to call back later.


Nevertheless, to lessen the blow, you have to make sure that when a customer needs immediate resolution to their issues, they won’t always get an automated voice prompt or on hold message for too long. By taking advantage of messages on hold, remember that you are simply cutting down on the wait times, not exactly the call volume. Therefore, don’t wait for your customers to do a second or third call. As much as possible give callers the alternatives they can use right now.