Factors That Affect Average Hold Time in the Call Center

In the CRM field, there is one topic that’s touchier than any other, that being average hold time call center. Hold times are a problem for customers, as when they have a problem, the last thing they want to do is be held up on the phone waiting for resolution they are unsure they will even receive. Worsening this is the fact that if occupied on the phone, customers are unable to multitask while waiting, and repetitive music or guerilla-style ads being repeated over the phone just add insult to injury.

So, what contributes to hold times? Today, we’re going to look at the things that result in average hold time call center issues. The goal of this is to grant customers just a bit of catharsis via understanding the why. But, it is also to point out the flaws in current systems as a plea to CRM people to work to reduce hold times for the same of humanity.

The first and most obvious problem is staff size. During times of heavy issues, this is even more prevalent. There are a finite amount of people to handle an indefinite amount of calls, and no matter how large the staff is, there’s going to be a cap here where hold times occur.

There’s no way to solve this, but increasing staff size can abate it to some extent, and using local resources does help.


Another constant issue is a lack of contingencies for disseminating calls to the proper departments. Often, there is a long period of debate on where to direct a call, resulting in further wait time. This usually accompanies the previous problem, causing the lengths that are legendarily experienced especially during heavy load times. This can be abated by proactive contingencies to eliminate this vestigial debate time from the equation. Contingencies can also help the next problem.

This brings us to the biggest problem that causes average hold time call center issues. Customers call in with very routine issues that really a call center person isn’t needed to answer, and yet, these concerns are directed to them. These issues are best handled by the menu system itself, or by some other platform such as a FAQ or something of the sort.

These routine calls bog down customer service people, adding to these hold times exponentially.

Another problem to consider is that often, the wrong concerns go to the wrong people, and redirections are constantly needed, tying everyone up even further. Having a better direction to make it more clear to whom a call should be directed would greatly solve this problem, though not entirely.

The problem is, all in all, all about human infrastructure and clarity. Some things are handled by the call centers that shouldn’t be, and sometimes things go where they should not, resulting in a lot of tie up. A lack of sufficient personnel just compliments this resulting in a cluster of lag and congestion that just becomes a nightmare in the long run.

We must understand this, when we become impatient with call centers, because our impatience lends to these causes which results in the hold times that enrage us so. But also, companies out there who may be reading this, heed these concerns and strive to reduce their impact, for the sake of us all. We, both sides of the equation, must contribute some common human understanding so that we may, for the good of all, reduce or even eliminate these average hold time call center problems.


is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe