The 56 Second Hold Time Bogey —Average Customer Wait Times: A DialogTech Benchmarking Analysis (Part 2)

In Part One of our benchmarking analysis, we shared the data that we gathered about the way phone calls are being handled by our customers within virtual call center environment. Here in part two we’ll provide the data that we mined when it comes to hold times and talk times for inbound calls. As a reminder: in our study, we analyzed data from Q1 of 2013, dividing the companies into four buckets: Small, Medium, Large, and Extra-Large.

Average Hold Time Across All Sizes is 56 Seconds

There are some very interesting takeaways in the average wait time data. Across all sizes, the average time a call waited on hold was 56 seconds. Where do you rank alongside that metric? 56 seconds is a good bogey to aim for: where you stack up against this particular piece of data can give you a good idea of how well you’re doing when it comes to processing calls.

Let’s get a little more specific. Businesses in the Small category had the longest hold times at 1 minute and 47 seconds. This might be due to limited resources, and the fact that callers aware of the size of the company might be a bit more willing to wait a little longer because of it. The average hold time for businesses in the Medium category is 39 seconds, and from there we see a consistent incremental increase for each category: 45 seconds for Large, and 52 seconds for Extra-Large.

Those numbers seem reasonable: with higher call volumes it stands to reason that hold times will be a little longer. But this is what benchmarks are for when you’re trying to determine the ways that your business might be improved: if your company is in the Large or Extra-Large category, consider whether 45 seconds and 52 seconds is the best you can do. Can you match a Medium company on their hold times? Just because you’re a huge call center doesn’t mean your customer experience needs to reflect that. Don’t be too seduced by the fact that some callers are waiting as long as 1 minute and 47 seconds: remember from part one of our analysis, 15% of callers tend to hang up right around 40 seconds of holding. Every second past that mark means you’re risking losing a possible sale.

Something else to consider is the longest maximum wait times (the average of the longest hold times), which, across all size companies, we found to be 7 minutes and 19 seconds on average, increasing as the call volume increases. This makes sense the more calls in a queue, the longer the queue so that stat shouldn’t be shocking, but it does give you an idea of what to strive for.

Average Talk Time: 4 Minutes and 29 Seconds

Hold times aren’t the only place where you should be clocking your conversations. How long are agents talking with customers? Talk times across all sizes averaged at 4 minutes and 29 seconds: how do you stack up with this benchmark and what does it tell you about your processes? Average longest talk time was 33 minutes and 37 seconds. How about that metric is your average longest talk time shorter? Longer?

Your reaction to your stats depends, of course, on the calls in question. Are they sales calls? Support calls? A 33-minute sales call doesn’t have to be the worst thing in the world: it might indicate that the discussion has revealed a lot of potential talking points for the agent as they win over the prospect. But a 33-minute support call? That may be some cause for concern. Ideally your support calls are succinct and get the caller’s problem taken care of in a timely manner.

Using These Benchmarks

These benchmarks provide a lot of food for thought for managers who are considering their staffing needs and their current staff’s effectiveness and efficiency. As you discover where you have room for improvement based on these benchmarks, then you can think through your staffing needs for a given day, week or time of day and prepare and compare forecast metrics and call center activity. It’s always a worthwhile activity to see how your caller experience compares to other experiences your caller might have: you don’t always know what you’re doing wrong until you see what everyone else is doing right!

Want to learn more on how to manage your inbound calls the right way? Check out this free white paper, Beyond the Cloud: The Next Generation of Virtual Call Centers.