The growing popularity of automated services, email communications, web chats and social media when it comes to contacting companies’ contact centres all highlight the same phenomenon: customers don’t like to wait for an agent to take their calls.

However, when they do call, the quality and duration of their wait will affect their perception of your company as much as the outcome of the call itself, making it clear that phone waiting time is an area that businesses need to manage with care.

Think about who your customers are

Music is the usual go-to when it comes to populating waiting time. While it is definitely better than silence, you should carefully consider which music will be suitable and enjoyable for your customers, depending on their age group, gender and socio-economic status for example. While chart music is usually a safe bet, classical music may be a better choice if your customer base is older.

In addition, you need to be careful about which songs you choose and consider whether the lyrics are appropriate and whether the song will actually sound good when played down a phone line. Last, avoid artists with controversial reputation as you may well offend a customer inadvertently!

Let your customers know their position in the queue

A solid favourite in a customer’s journey is being given an indication of how long the wait will be and their position in the queue. It manages their expectations and makes the wait seem shorter.

However, this will not work for all contact centres. Indeed, for larger operations with several sites and complex routing platforms, giving a reasonably accurate waiting time could prove a challenge. In addition, in the case of centres dealing with high call volumes, being told that you are in position 534 is more likely to induce despondency than patience in your customers – not to mention the fact that that number is also likely to change rapidly, making it difficult to update the information without overwhelming customers with numbers.

Carefully consider messages

Promoting your brand during this waiting time is acceptable, but should be done with utmost caution. Make sure that you are conveying the right values, and if your message is recorded by a member of staff, ensure that the audio quality is good. A hurried message on a background of contact centre humming will definitely not present your company as professional.