The Reality of The Impatient Customer

60% say one minute on hold is enough

by Jason Falls |

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 a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).