When it comes to offering great customer service, no company should be content with their customers simply having a good experience. The ultimate goal is to exceed the customer's expectations, but it's also important that those expectations be realistic and affordable. Unless you've established precedent through use of an automated system, there's little reason customers should expect to have their calls answered immediately. While it will vary on a case-by-case basis, a business should aim to answer a single question - how long is too long?
Understanding the answering service benchmark
Depending on the type of industry, callers may be more lenient when it comes to longer wait times. For example, there are traditionally longer wait times for airlines and credit card companies. This suggests that people are more willing to be patient when it comes to things they find important. The truth is, however, that no one likes being put on hold for longer than is necessary. It's a certainty that everyone has had some experience where they've had to wait on hold for longer than five minutes in order to speak to a person, which doesn't jibe with the accessible and technologically-advanced society that we believe ourselves to be part of.
An 80/30 goal - that is, to answer 80% of calls in 30 seconds or less - is an answering service bench mark, which is a reasonable wait time at an affordable price. Every phone ring takes approximately six seconds, so four out of five calls should be answered before the fifth ring. Delivering the highest expectations that callers demand may quickly become cost-prohibitive, so companies should closely work with their answering service to discuss the best solutions for them specifically - there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
How to make phone calls engaging
Industry standards state that 15% of callers will hang up when they've waited around 40 seconds, and while this may be a small comparative percentage, it only serves to illustrate that the risk of drop-off begins to increase after this point. While there may not be a live agent available to answer the call, on-hold messaging can be a very effective way to ensure the customer doesn't feel neglected. According to a study from the On-Hold Messaging Association, 88% of respondents claimed such messaging was a useful marketing tool that added value to their business, with a further 24% claiming that they could attribute actual sales to such messaging.
Striving to be perfect is admirable but unrealistic and not affordable. There are going to be some cases where calls aren't answered as quickly as anyone would like, just as there are some customers who aren't going to be interested in what you have to offer. As long as the customer's time is valued (Benjamin Franklin once wrote that time is money, but in actuality time is far more important than currency), and a sincere attempt is made to address their concerns as quickly as possible, both customer and company should be satisfied.
If you're interested in efficient and affordable service to your customers, Telelink would love to hear from you. Visit our answering services page to learn more about how we can work together to meet your customer service needs!