Why do call centers put you on hold?

Reasons Why Call Centers Have Hold Times

Why do call centers put you on hold

Hold Time: Understanding the Reasons Behind the Wait

Why do call centers put you on hold? There are a variety of legitimate reasons that call centers place customers on hold. This article will look at the reasons behind these calls and shed more light on the process behind the scenes that contribute to these hold times.

If you decide to use the services of a call center, whether all hours of the day or simply as a support for overflow, the aim is to ensure that your customers never be held or, at the very least, significantly lower hold times than what they will experience if the front desk of your business is crowded. The issue is that many customers have unrealistic expectations of the quality of service call centers can offer. Do the call centers have more employees than you? Yes. Are there people all hours of the day? Yes. Does that mean the days of holding are an old thing? Realistically, no.

Table of Contents

Why do call centers put you on hold?

Why do call centers put you on hold? There are many reasons that call centers place you on hold:
  • To retrieve information or complete a task. This may include looking up customer information in a database, processing a payment, or transferring you to another department.
  • To consult with a supervisor or expert. If the agent is unable to answer your question or resolve your issue, they may need to put you on hold to consult with a supervisor or someone with more expertise.
  • To take a break. Call center agents often have to handle a high volume of calls, so they may need to take a short break periodically to avoid burnout.
  • To deal with an emergency. If the agent needs to deal with an emergency situation, such as a fire alarm or a medical emergency, they may need to put you on hold.

In certain situations some call centers will put you on hold in order to try to lower their cost. For instance, if there are many people waiting to be called or waiting to be answered, the call center might place some customers on hold in order to decrease the number of employees who have to take calls.

Call centers must try to reduce the amount of time they keep customers waiting since long hold periods can result in customer discontent and frustration. There are however situations where placing customers on hold is required.

What is hold time in a contact center?

Hold time refers to the amount of time an agent at a call center puts the customer on hold. It happens when a customer is in contact with an agent and they discuss something. Afterwards the agent decides to put the caller on hold rather than disconnection of the call. The caller is on hold till the status of hold is restored from the person who took them on hold. There are a variety of reasons for placing callers on hold like soliciting the assistance of a supervisor in solving the issue of the caller or cooling off themselves when handling angry customers.

Why Hold Time matter?

Hold time is an essential aspect of the customer service experience. It is important because of a number of reasons:

Why Hold Time matter
  • Customer Satisfaction: Excessive hold times can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction among customers. Waiting for extended periods can result in a negative perception of the company's customer service, which may affect the customer's overall satisfaction with the brand.
  • First Impression: Hold times can influence a customer's first impression of a company. If a customer's initial interaction with a business involves long hold times, it may lead to a poor first impression and erode trust.
  • Customer Retention: High hold times can contribute to customer churn. When customers have negative experiences with hold times, they may be more likely to seek alternatives or switch to competitors that offer more responsive support.
  • Efficiency and Productivity: Efficient call handling processes, including minimizing hold times, are essential for the productivity of call center agents. Reducing hold times allows agents to handle more calls and address customer issues promptly.
  • Cost Savings: Prolonged hold times can increase the cost of customer service operations. Longer hold times mean that agents spend more time on each call, leading to increased labor costs. Reducing hold times can help call centers optimize their resources.
  • Customer Loyalty: Quick and efficient service, including minimal hold times, can enhance customer loyalty. When customers feel their time is respected and their issues are resolved promptly, they are more likely to remain loyal to the company.
  • Brand Reputation: A company's reputation can be significantly impacted by hold times. Negative experiences shared on social media and online reviews related to long hold times can tarnish a brand's image and deter potential customers.
  • Competitive Advantage: Offering shorter hold times can be a competitive advantage. Businesses that prioritize efficient customer service can stand out in the market and attract more customers.
  • Customer Experience: Hold times are a part of the overall customer experience. A shorter hold time contributes to a smoother and more positive customer journey, which can lead to higher customer retention and loyalty.
  • Compliance and Regulation: In certain industries, regulatory compliance requires businesses to meet specific standards for customer service, including hold time limits. Failure to adhere to these regulations can result in penalties and legal issues.

The length of time a hold takes to be determined by how it directly affects the level of customer satisfaction, loyalty and overall performance of a company. Companies that are focused on reducing hold times will enhance customer service, lower costs, and keep the trustworthiness of their brand to their customers.

How to effectively reduce hold time in your call center?

There are numerous ways to cut down on the time it takes to hold within the center of your calls. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Monitor agent performance. Monitor how long agents spend each call and pinpoint areas in which they could become more efficient. For example, is it taking too long to talk to customers? Is it a waste of time to spend so long waiting on hold while looking for details? If you’ve identified areas that need improvement Agents can be provided with assistance and training to reduce their time spent on calls.
  2. Offer customer callbacks. Customers can get a callback instead of waiting in line. This can be a useful option for those in a hurry or don’t wish to be waiting on hold for a prolonged amount of time.
  3. Improve self-service with IVR. IVR (interactive voice response) (IVR) systems allow customers to resolve issues without needing to speak with an agent. For instance, customers can utilize IVR to verify their account balance and pay bills, or change their password. This allows agents to tackle more complicated problems.
  4. Provide an omnichannel communication experience. This implies giving customers the possibility of contacting your company via a variety of options, including chat, email, phone and social media. This could help in reducing the volume of calls and hold time.
  5. Use call routing. Software for call routing can assist in directing calls to the correct department or agent quickly and effectively. This will cut down on the time customers are waiting on hold.
  6. Update hold music and messages.  Make sure the music on your hold and the messages are informative and professional. Beware of using music for hold that is loud or repetitive.
  7. Integrate your CRM software. The integration of your CRM software with your call center will allow agents access information about customers quickly and conveniently. This will help reduce the time customers are waiting in line while agents look for information.
  8. Update your knowledge base and call scripts. Be sure your knowledge base as well as call scripts are current and simple for agents to utilize. This will help agents help with questions and solve problems quickly.

If you follow these guidelines by following these tips, you can reduce the time it takes to hold within your contact center, and also improve customers’ experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many reasons the call center could be in a hold state, for example:

  • High call volume.  In the event that there’s more phone calls arriving that the center is able to handle, customers may be placed on hold until a representative is available.
  • System outages or technical difficulties. In the event that a call center’s telephone system or any other technology isn’t working correctly, customers may be put on hold until this issue has been fixed.
  • Staffing shortages. In the event that the center doesn’t have enough staff to handle the demand the callers could be placed on hold until a staff member is available.
  • Training. If agents are instructed, they may not be able to handle calls. Callers could be placed on hold.
  • Holidays and peak seasons.  Call centers can experience increased volume of calls during the holiday and peak times like that Christmas season. This can result in longer wait time.


There is no lawful limitation on how long customer service could keep you waiting. But, the majority of companies attempt to reduce hold times to a minimum because long wait times could result in customer discontent and dissatisfaction.

The length of time to be waiting on hold is dependent on several variables, including the nature of the issue as well as the expectations of the customer along with the number of the agents. But the majority of customers only want to stand to be on the line for a couple of minutes before they become dissatisfied.


The decision between remaining on hold or opting for the callback option is based on the specific circumstances and preferences of your. If the problem is urgent and you require immediate assistance, then staying on hold could be a better option. If you’re looking for the convenience of having to go through the stress of waiting for an immediate callback could be the better option. In the end, it’s about balancing the need for prompt assistance and the desire to have a better and more pleasant customer service experience.


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