Have we come to accept the status quo for call-holding prison? This is sadly becoming the new normal for many companies and it raises a red flag for the organization's commitment to their customers. With the expectations of technology, it seems the customer experience is lacking the will to allocate human customer service resources in lieu of the growing popularity for AI interfaces. It feels like a monumental achievement when you break through and finally get an actual person, only to find out your call has been routed to an overseas call center and we all know how that usually turns out.
MOST OF US HANG UP
Resource: Study by Business 2 Community.
COVID-19 AND CALL HOLDING
With the spike in the Omicron variant of COVID-19, traveling has become more complicated than ever. See our Covid-19 Business Traveler Checklist. Although we all try to be patient, COVID-19 has impacted the length of call-hold times. The decrease in staffing, along with the high call volumes have created a new norm for waiting on hold. An article posted by The Age highlights this problem, expressing the increase of call volumes. According to the article, "there was a 15 per cent spike in call demand over a month period, from 32,600 to 37,500 monthly calls." (The Age, 2022). With this in mind, what does waiting on hold in the COVID-age look like?
EXECUTIVES LOSE ALMOST 3 DAYS PER YEAR WAITING ON HOLD
According to a study done by USA Today, business executives spend 15 minutes a day, or 68 hours a year on hold. To spend two and a half days on hold a year is a waste of valuable time and can be irritating. Think about the impact in lost productivity this is costing companies when you multiply these minutes by, let's say, 2,000 employees.
- 2,000 Employees x 68hrs = 136,000 Hour
- 136,000 Hours / 24 = 5,667 Days
- 5,667 Days / 365 Days = 15.5 years of collective lost productivity
These numbers are staggering. Clearly, companies are not placing enough value on customer service and one could argue to what extent call holding is directly impacting our nation's GDP.
Sources from Inbound/Outbound and Business2Community
WOMEN APPEAR TO BE MORE PATIENT
A study conducted by PH Media Group discovered that 45% of British consumers are prepared to wait on hold for longer than a minute during business calls. Women were discovered to be more patient than men, as 52% of women would wait on hold longer than a minute compared to 38% of men.
WHY IS WAITING ON HOLD SO IRRITATING?
Surprisingly, there is a science behind the psychology of waiting. Numerous studies agree that the duration of the hold is not what is irritating, but how the business handles the hold line. Disney has mastered the psychology of waiting by managing expectations for their guests. If a family is waiting in line for a ride, Disney provides an accurate wait time. Typically, Disney will overestimate the wait time, sparking joy in their guests when they find out the ride is "ahead of schedule."
A 2007 study by the Journal of Applied Psychology compared different strategies of call holding to determine what customers preferred. Randomly surveying 123 people, the study broke down in the following way:
- 1/3 of the group listened to hold music
- 1/3 of the group listened to music and was interrupted by messages that apologized for the wait
- 1/3 heard music interrupted by occasional status updates: "you are the 4th caller in line... you are the 3rd caller in line..., etc."
Getting quizzed after the survey, the group who heard where their place in line was were the most satisfied with their hold experience. Although they found it inconvenient, they felt the most comfort knowing where their place in line was.
Resource: Tampa Bay's Morning Krewe.
AIRLINE HOLD TIMES
Waiting to talk to an airline agent has been challenging, especially due to the spike in the Omicron variant. Between December 24 and December 29 of 2021, over 15,000 flights were cancelled due to COVID-related staff shortages. To speak to an airline agent about a flight cancellation has been virtually impossible. A spokesperson from Delta Airlines has expressed that it may take up to three hours to speak to an agent about a flight. When waiting on hold with an airline agency, most airlines recommend to leave your phone number so you can wait in their queue without having to be on your phone. However, multiple customers have complained that they never received a follow-up call, which is not only a waste of time, but can be emotionally draining. Overall, the impact of COVID-19 has made speaking to a representative unimaginable.
HOW TO COMBAT AIRLINE HOLD TIMES
Instead of waiting on hold to talk to an airline agent, here are some tips to get assistance:
- Utilize Social Media
- Airlines have teams dedicated to responding to social media. Use tools such as Direct Message to reach out to the airlines.
- Try Call Centers
- International call centers can be used to outsource assistance.
- Use the Airline's Applications
- Airline's apps are not only for your flight information, but also for your assistance. Try using the application's text messaging assistance
- Travel Management Company (TMC)
- When any issues arise, a TMC can rebook and fix things directly from their end. For major weather disruptions, major airlines allow TMC's to utilize pre-approved authorizations to rebook delayed travelers.
WHAT VISTA TRAVEL CAN DO TO HELP
We at Vista Travel Inc. have made it our mission to provide our customer's with their very own personal Dedicated Advisor that knows them by first name. When it comes to aging on hold, skip the Call Centers and save the skeletons for a Netflix show like Jason and the Argonauts.
- Dedicated Advisors - Call us by direct line where we know you by first name. Unlike most Call Centers who pressure their operation teams for high call turnover, we measure performance on quality of service and our team’s ability to find the most value & best prices.
- Vista Network - We are a member of 3 of the most prestigious Hotel Consortium groups, worth over $15b in purchasing power with pre-negotiated rates, reducing your costs with our leading airlines, hotels and rental car partners.
- Technology - We also offer you a choice of the leading online booking platforms, along with expense automation tools. Our reporting tool offer you a custom dashboard with 24/7 live data feed with access to over 600 unique reports.
- Savings - We provide a seamless experience for corporate business travelers by managing travel policies and reducing T&E, which is typically a companies 2nd highest controllable cost. With our network, policy management reporting tools and technology platforms, we provide the blueprints for customizing a program that works for you and impacts your bottom line.
For more information, please schedule a demo below to learn more.
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