Call Wait Time Reduction Techniques

By far the most exhausting thing that can happen during a phone conversation is waiting on hold. A customer certainly doesn’t want to be on hold for long. It doesn’t matter whether they are trying to make a purchase, find a solution, or speak to a specific employee. That’s why it’s important to find tips and solutions to reduce call wait time.

How to reduce call wait time

What is call waiting and how does it work?

Call waiting is a service that allows you to keep someone on the line while answering another call. Generally, this service is included with all phone packages. When your’e speaking with one person on the line, you’ll hear a tone. That tone is alerting you that someone else is attempting to call in “on the other line.” On a cell phone or a modern phone, you’ll use caller ID to screen the call. Then you’ll decide whether or not you’ll answer it or you’ll call that person later.

If you do decide to answer the call, the polite thing to do would be to ask the original caller, “May I place you on hold?” After they reply “yes,” thank them and answer the second call. The first call is your priority, so be sure to keep the second one brief. You always will want to reduce the call wait time.

reduce call wait time Shirley Jackson invented call waiting

Who invented call waiting?

Here’s a quick history lesson! Dr. Shirley Jackson, Ph.D. is credited with inventing the technology used for call waiting. This service has become pretty standard for the average phone user, so it is quite the accomplishment. However, after becoming the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate  in any subject at M.I.T., she went on to do so much in science, politics, and business that her technological advancements for the telephone weren’t even mentioned in The New York Times’ write-up about her life!

 Reduce wait time: Call center wait time, what's the industry standard?

Call Center Wait Time: Industry Standard

You may want to know about the benchmarks that your employees should live up to if you run a call center. What’s the standard call wait time? How long is too long? That may still be up for debate, according to Here are a couple of responses that may help:

reduce call wait time: call center wait time, industry standard reduce call wait time: call center wait time, industry standard

Reduce call wait time tips

Tips to Reduce Call Wait Time

Don’t force too much learn-as-you-go training

Sure, you found good employees and hired them. But, did you train them properly? If you allow too much on-the-job training. you should expect a high wait time when those people answer customer calls.

Go online!

Create a website that has a robust amount of information about your company, frequently asked questions, and trouble shooting steps. If you have a database of online material that you can refer many customers to, they won’t need to make the call at all. That’ll leave more time to discuss things with those whom are less computer savvy.

Keep your online presence updated.

Notice if you’re beginning to receive the same questions from callers again and again. Use these questions to determine  You should be sure that your online presence reflects answers to repeat questions.

Be sure those who are answering calls have enough authority.

Customers don’t want to have to wait for the person on the phone to ask a manager for every little thing. The customer would rather speak to the person whom has authority to make decisions. Only permitting a —receptionist— to be a go-between frustrates customers, and makes them feel like they are not worth the time of the person who is able to make the decisions.

Ensure that internal staff is consistently responsive.

If a receptionist is transferring a call, they should be able to assume that whichever department it is being transferred to will be prompt in answering. Too often, callers wait on hold for unnecessary amounts of time when being transferred to a different department.

Have a sense of urgency.

Know that when a call comes in, the caller is doing so to expedite a solution to their problem. Perhaps they could spend some time researching the tool or topic online, but they assume that the fastest way to get an answer will be to directly call your company. Don’t prove them wrong.

Disallow employee-to-employee interruptions.

It happens! Unfortunately, some employees get distracted by their coworkers and place customers on hold. There should be a zero tolerance policy for this type of behavior in your office, as a good receptionist knows that the customer should always be their first priority.

Figure out where all the time is going.

The reason that your staff has a higher call wait time than others may be specific to your business. Do some research to find out where the time is going when customers are on hold. There are reasons you keep people on hold for too long, including noise level, privacy issues, and overabundance of calls. Consider where your business-specific issue lies, and make adjustments there.

Consider offering a callback option.

Many customers may prefer to not wait on hold at all. It would be ideal for you to offer this as an option if you know your business is currently in an influx of calls. Ask the customer if they’d prefer to be called back or wait on the line. Write a very detailed note with their name, number, reason for calling and time of call if you are going to call them back.

Hire enough staff!

This is the most efficient way to reduce call wait time. Depending upon the amount of calls you’re receiving, you may not be employing the appropriate amount of people to get all of your small business’s calls taken care of in a timely manner. Not willing to hire another full-time employee? No worries, there’s a solution: an answering service.


Apply this to your small business

Be sure you’re respecting your customer’s time. Don’t keep them waiting. If surveyed customers have something to say about their call wait time, you should get to the bottom of the solution immediately.

Now, give these a try:

Don’t forget the ways you can reduce call wait time! Put simply,

  1. Don’t force on-the-go training.
  2. Constantly update online information.
  3. Ensure that the staff answering calls has enough authority to make decisions.
  4. Remind your staff to consistently be responsive, treat all calls as urgent, and refrain from distracting their coworkers.
  5. Do a time audit to get to the bottom of where the call wait time is spent.

You should consider that you’re likely understaffed if there’s still a call wait time issue. If that’s the case, consider hiring a team of virtual receptionists. There are many benefits to hiring a virtual receptionist that you wouldn’t expect, in addition to reducing call wait time.