The Reality of The Impatient Customer - Social Media Explorer
The Reality of The Impatient Customer
The Reality of The Impatient Customer

We live in a here and now world. Information is not only accessible, but in a moment’s notice. If you ever get stumped on a trivia question again, it’s only because you couldn’t punch the question into your smart phone’s browser soon enough.

But there comes a price to pay with evolutions in consumer behavior. We’ve become an incredibly impatient world and brands are suffering the brunt of that.

Velaro recently commissioned a single-question survey of over 2,500 Americans 12 and older to ask, “For customer service, how long are you willing to be put on hold?” And six in 10 said one minute or less. Another third of the respondents said 1-5 minutes.

Now I ask you: When’s the last time you can remember being on hold for less than five minutes on a customer service call?

Certainly, my question is biased. Many customer service calls are answered quickly and efficiently. We only seem to remember the bad ones. But have we become so wrapped up in our own issues to think that a company with millions of customers should be able to respond to one in less than 60 seconds?

“What surprised me was how many people aren’t willing to wait for more than a minute,” explained Jeff Mason, Velaro’s vice-president of marketing. “I knew people were impatient, but I didn’t know it would be quite that significant.”

Customer Service - Hold Time Preferences

It’s not just the telephone support consumer that indicates impatience is the soup of the day for customers. The most recent data from The Social Habit confirms that those who reach out for support through social channels want that help here and now. One third of American social media users who have tried to contact a company on social media for service or support say they expect a response from a company within 30 minutes.

These indicators tell us a few things that are important for marketers.

First of all, we have to address scalability. If people don’t want to wait on hold and your phone service staff can’t handle the volume in a less than five minute fashion, perhaps even less than one minute fashion, you’re going to disappoint customers.

Certainly Velaro (for the record an SME client) fielded the survey because they have a solution that eases the pain. Live chat software can take a companies website from static to dynamic and from plodding along to driving sales and happy customers pretty quickly. According to Forrester Research, 44 percent of online consumers say live chat functionality is one of the most important features a website can offer. And a live chat customer service rep can handle up to three people at once while the phone CSR is limited to one.

Mason said live chat isn’t the only solution to address scalability. He said a combination of live chat, phone support and self-service resources on a company website is required to meet the diverse demands of today’s consumer. He noted GetSatsifaction as Velaro’s solution for not only providing the self-serve portion of website support, but also as a good integration software to allow CSR’s to both pull from and add to while they’re performing their roles.

The simple fact is that as real-time marketing and responsiveness proliferate, our audiences are going to be more and more conditioned to want it here and now and right. Consumer haste could evolve to be the factor with the most impact on your customer experience in the coming years. What are you going to do about it?

About the Author

Jason Falls
Jason Falls is the founder of Social Media Explorer and one of the most notable and outspoken voices in the social media marketing industry. He is a noted marketing keynote speaker, author of two books and unapologetic bourbon aficionado. He can also be found at
  • Benjammin

    Working in a technical field, I can attest to a customer’s lack of patience. We as a society expect instant gratification. In my opinion this can come at a cost. Information get’s improperly translated. Also companies now expect employees to drop everything and respond. As if everything is a life and death situation. This ends up making many employees feel overworked and under valued in my opinion. Unfortunately the way things are moving this does not seem to be on a path to be adjusted properly anytime soon. We wonder why people go off the deep end, it’s the culture employers and consumers have created. Europe has got it right actually. Most people get a decent amount of vacation and their companies let them do what they need to, for them to be happy.

  • Jack Mistrattei

    Live Chat is second only to long wait times on hold. I hate live chat. It’s slow. Rarely do the reps answer the questions I actually asked. I avoid it as much as possible. The pause between answers gives me the impression the rep is handling multiple chats at the same time, or they decided to take a break and eat their lunch between responses.

    Long hold times are one problem, but the bigger issue is the lack of a solution. After CS calls, it’s rare when I leave the call with a resolution to the issue I called about.

    It’s amazing how many companies are ineptly managed. I’m a retired CEO. I know how much customer service costs, and I also know how much lack of customer service costs. If every company had its Division managers and above, all the way through the CEO, answer customer service phone calls one day a month–all day long for an entire year–there would be a lot of changes. Upper management is too far removed from the customer. Spreadsheets just don’t tell the story. Frankly most upper management really doesn’t want to interact with the customers. Sad!

  • Piper FitzG

    Thanks for sharing. I think that live chat is a very powerful tool when it comes to customer support.
    Personally, I would recommend to try Visitlead. It offers, in every of its versions, the same or more features than most of the solutions mentioned above (routing, tracking, teamchat, visitor forwarding, etc.) in every of its versions for around 4 time less the price. a good option.

  • Guest

    Thanks for sharing. I think that live chat is a very powerful tool when it comes to customer support.
    Personally, I would recommend to try Visitlead. It offers, in every of its versions, the same or more features than most of the solutions mentioned above (routing, tracking, teamchat, visitor forwarding, etc.) in every of its versions for around 4 time less the price.

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  • Luigician

    Well done Jason, very interesting article.
    Thank you

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  • Yes it is an interesting article.  I think companies need to ensure they answer the call and also make sure the first point of contact is able to resolve the issue.  If they don’t do this with call centers people will just resort to social media anyway and our expectations are very high on social channels.

  • Guildmarketing Colorado

    Thank You for sharing this informative blog..

  • Very interesting survey and article, Jason! 

    I think that this trend has to do with people’s increasingly shorter attention spans. I noticed it when I was a full-time instructor. I used to teach French to adults, and at the time (before 2008), they were still able to pay attention for more than 20 minutes in a row. Now, it’s more like 10 minutes.

    People expect a lot from brands. Between 1 and 5 minutes is quite surreal. 

    I do understand that the customer is king (or queen), but really, brands can only do so much!