Google Surveys Callers Willingness to Wait On Hold


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The customer service department at any business can be a real pressure cooker. And if a business depends on the telephone for customer support, it has about five minutes before things boil over into a big mess.

A recent Google consumer survey showed 57.8 percent of callers were willing to be put on hold for up to 5 minutes. But 32.3 percent of respondents said they were not willing to wait at all for a customer service representative. So if a business keeps callers waiting longer than 5 minutes, it will lose 90 percent of those calls, according to the survey.

Men are more impatient than women, according to the survey, with 36 percent saying they are not willing to wait on hold, compared to 29 percent of the women surveyed.

Meanwhile, younger people tended to be both the most and least patient respondents. Among those ages 18 to 24, almost 41 percent said they are not willing to wait, and 6 percent said they would wait as long as it takes. In the 25- to 34-year old group, 36 percent said they would not wait and 6 percent said they would wait indefinitely.

The survey data indicates professionals and executives are the least likely to wait on hold. Among those ages 55 to 64 with incomes of at least $75,000 who live in cities, half of the women said they would not wait, and two-thirds of men said they would wait up to one minute. Only one-third of all respondents in that demographic would wait from one to five minutes, and none said they would wait beyond five minutes.

Yet, statistics show that putting callers on hold is inevitable. In a survey by the On Hold Marketing Association, respondents said an average of 57 percent of all calls are put on hold.

Deploying an on-hold message can mitigate frustration and keep callers on the line longer. A North American Telecom survey showed callers will stay on the line up to 3 minutes longer with an on-hold message. And a U.S. West Communications study found a 40 percent increase in caller retention with on-hold messages.

Strategic on-hold messaging can be a company’s customer service ambassador when a live representative cannot answer the phone. The message can answer frequently asked questions, promote the newest products and special offers, and keep callers informed and entertained while on hold. And when the right words are blended with the perfect background music and voice talent, that on-hold message becomes a reflection of a company’s brand for callers.

Facts show that on-hold messaging works. In the OHMA survey, 88 percent of respondents said on-hold messaging was a useful marketing tool that added value to their business. And 24 percent said they could attribute actual sales to their on-hold messaging.

On hold time doesn’t have to bring customers to the boiling point. Strategic messaging and music can help can offer callers a perfect feast of information – and keep them on the line.


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