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Longest call hold

Market research 04 12

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Did you know that the average person spends over a thousand hours of their life on hold?
According to RingCentral, the average person would spend 40 days of their life on hold with a call centre. That means you’ll have to wait the same amount of time as a summer squash to be served.


What is longest call
hold time in a call centre?

The cumulative amount of time a caller spends in an agent-initiated hold status is the longest call hold time. In other words, a caller connects with an agent, they usually have a conversation, and then the agent places them on hold, which means the call is not disconnected, but the caller is stuck in limbo until the agent takes them off hold. Agents may place callers on hold for a number of reasons, including having to ask their boss for assistance addressing the caller’s problem or needing to calm down because the caller is irritated.

Whatever the explanation for call centre hold time, it’s a metric that should be managed and kept to a minimum. Average hold times that are longer than ideal are most likely a sign that something is wrong and that it’s time to investigate and fix the problem. It’s a good place to start because average hold times can be drilled down to the agent stage. Supervisors can discover that agents with long hold times need additional training. If the problem affects the whole team, it can be overcome by expanding the knowledge base or hiring a subject matter specialist to walk the floor and quickly answer agents’ questions. Average hold time can also be applied to agent dashboards to give the metric more visibility and aid in self-management.

The argument is that hold time should be monitored and take action if it deviates from the standard. Nobody enjoys waiting on hold. In reality, it enrages a large number of people. As a result, long hold times will degrade the customer experience. Another tactic contact centres may use to provide consistently high-quality service is to effectively manage hold time.

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How long is too long?

Putting a customer on hold for a long period of time is the quickest way to lose a customer. So, what is the length of time that is considered long? 

Calls should be answered within the first 20 seconds, according to industry guidelines. When putting a caller on hold, it’s crucial to check in with the customer and let them know you’re still working on their problem if you know it’ll take longer than 20 seconds. Most people are able to wait 2-3 minutes on hold before being irritated, and the average call centre hold time is about 13 minutes. But 57% of customers find that long hold times are a frustrating part of their service experience. 

According to Call Center Helper, more than half of sales callers will hang up after 45 seconds, and technical support callers will hang up after 95 seconds.

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How to measure the longest call hold time and why it matters?

Hold time is a crucial indicator for most businesses. But how do you calculate it, and what do you do with the data you collect? Plus, how do you ensure that you’re looking at hold times in the context of your entire customer experience, and that you’re analysing their impact on other metrics as well?

The longest hold time, according to Techopedia, is the total time an operator takes to respond to a call. It refers to how long a customer must wait in line before receiving a response from an employee. Some organisations refer to it as average response time.

The ASA for a particular call centre is determined by several factors. But in general, it is not included in ASA calculation when a customer spends navigating an IVR. The metric only accounts for the time between when your system places a customer in a queue and when an agent picks up the phone, responds to a chat, or sends a response email.

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How to calculate your company's longest call
hold and average speed
to answer?

Total the time spent waiting on all inbound customer calls. Then divide the sum by the total number of inbound customer calls that were either answered by agents or resolved by automation.

Compare the benchmark hold time to the two-minute standard established by customers. Are you beating or falling short of the two-minute mark? And how does your hold time relate to last month? Analyze the data from different perspectives to get a better understanding of the customer experience.


What happens in your customer experience when customers wait on longest call hold?

Customers spread negative information about your company.

  • Customers who are put on hold become brand critics. They’re the people who aren’t only dissatisfied with your business, but also tell their friends and family about it. They often post negative interactions on social media as well. 
  • The website aggregates all negative tweets into one easy-to-view dashboard after searching for a slew of dissatisfied customer tweets. It even updates in real time, so you can see a steady stream of angry customers yelling at company Twitter handles after being on hold for 10 minutes or more.

Customers abandon calls.

  • Since two-thirds of consumers are only able to wait two minutes on hold, holding customers on hold for much longer risks endangering other metrics. Furthermore, according to Voice Response, Inc., 34% of people who hang up before meeting an agent will never call back.
  • That means one of two scenarios will play out the next time the same customer has a problem. One, the consumer will stealthily flee to a rival who offers exceptional service. Or, two, they’ll continue to be a customer while quietly stewing in frustration at the lack of a solution. (Only to finally spill over and leave you with no choice but to compete.)
  • When one main metric underperforms, it’s simple for others to follow the lead. When calculating hold call time, compare it to quality indicators like satisfaction and loyalty.

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How to reduce long hold times to keep customers happy:

You will reduce hold times and keep customers satisfied with the aid of technology and better coaching techniques. Here’s how to do it.

Improve interaction routing and channel integration.

  • Gone are the days when phone interactions were just routed to the appropriate agents. Customers expect responses across any (and every) channels. Using omni channel routing to ensure you don’t lose track of customer requests and increase hold times. Simplify the customer contact flows and guide them to the appropriate queues. Also, bind all of your channels so that agents can handle communications more effectively from a single interface.

Reduce handle times and ASA by training your agents.

  • Provide the agents with the resources and preparation they need to answer calls on their own. When performance metrics are poor, revisit a few interactions and provide immediate feedback to your agents to help them progress. Did they waste an extended amount of money on one call looking for a file, leaving other customers waiting on hold? Instead of reprimanding them, direct them to the services they need.

Offer a Callback Service.

  • You can also eliminate the need for a hold by providing a callback service. Instead of making customers wait next to the phone until your agent is available, callbacks arrange a time for agents to call them. Instead of being tethered to an hour-long hold, customers can go about their day.

Adopting an Integrated Voice Response (IVR) System.

  • If your call center’s strategy includes a lot of transfers between departments, you may want to consider using an integrated voice response (IVR) system to save time. Rather than directing a customer to the appropriate department or specialist manually, an IVR device automates the process by providing customers with a menu of options as soon as they call your help line. Customers then dial the number that best suits their needs, and an agent who specialises in their problem is assigned to them.
  • This not only shortens hold times by providing a prompt response, but it also enhances the customer experience by providing consumers with a transparent and direct path to their solution.

Invest in real omnichannel software for your call centre.

  • Your routing, data, training, and channels are all combined into a single interface with omnichannel software. When the agents are truly omnichannel, they can easily switch between conversations and channels without interrupting or losing customer conversations. Investing in omnichannel software reduces agent workload and customer long hold waits, resulting in quicker (and better) resolutions.

Ensure that your contact centre solutions put your agents first.

  • Customers can wait longer for resolutions if you use clunky tools that don’t integrate with your CRM or ticketing system. When the agents have to switch back and forth between windows and databases, their productivity suffers. When agents are aware that they are lacking metrics and are under pressure, they are unable to be successful. Create processes that prioritise agents so that they can provide better service to customers.

Agents should be encouraged to engage in small talk.

  • Encourage agents to make small talk instead of keeping customers on hold as an easy alternative to long hold times. Even if it is uncomfortable, telling the customer about their day or discussing the weather is a simple way to reduce hold times. It’s also a nice way to improve the customer experience by demonstrating that you care for your clients beyond their service situations.
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Adopting a Unified Communications system for your call centre is an interesting decision to consider when you consider how to minimise call centre hold time. Not only will this make it easier to implement all of the tips and tricks discussed in this post, but it will also minimise customer wait times by combining all customer contact into a single, user-friendly platform. Employees will be more effective and profitable, and customers will be happier.

Switch to Voxco Telephony System to improve your Call Center Productivity by 400% or more 

Survey organizations around the world have maximized their phone survey ROI with the advanced features, hosting options, seamless telephony integration, and flexible pricing of our CATI software.