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Waiting is always the hardest part

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 12, 2016 9:05 am
For all of the technological advancements that have been made over the years, we can't seem to rid ourselves of having to wait on hold.

I'm uncertain if I've ever lived in a world where you can just call a major corporation and instantly be able to talk to a human. More often than not, you're funneled into some type of voicemail system from the start.

Some places have tried to use email, chat functions and text messages to conduct business. You'll quickly find out that picking up the phone is still the best option for trying to get your business done. I recently tried to contact Ameren. Not wanting anything to do with a phone call, I decided to go online and zip them an email. The company website said it had people staffed to respond to emails for 12 hours a day. Surely, they would get right back to me. No need to see what kind of elevator music might be waiting for me on hold.

Alas, when my email was sent, I got an automated response quickly.

"Thank you for contacting Ameren Illinois," the message read. "Your email is very important to us. We appreciate your business and we will do our best to respond within 1-2 business days."

Seriously? One to two business days? Instead, I called up Ameren and, after pressing a few buttons in an automated menu, was able to speak with a woman named Abigail, who easily solved my problem. To Ameren's credit, the company did send me another email about six hours after my first query. It wasn't instant feedback, but it wasn't one to two business days either. My customer experience was a positive one, thanks to picking up the phone.

You're not alone if you dread having to call major corporations. Undergoing a root canal might be better than having to work out a problem with some big businesses. Once you call, you have to make sure you're not distracted. All of those menus force you to really listen to the options to make sure you pick the right one. Hit the wrong button and you might have to start over again.

By the time you get to where you think you need to be, you'll inevitability get the "all of our representatives are helping other customers right now, please hold."

Us Midwesterns are the worst when it comes to waiting on hold. A recent study done by audio branding specialist PH Media Group found that Midwest residents are the least patient when it comes to waiting on hold. The survey of 2,234 consumers found that 53 percent of Midwest residents will wait on hold for more than a minute. Unbelievably, the Northeast was the most patient with 57 percent of people saying they would wait for a minute.

No matter how you slice it, there's more than 40 percent of people everywhere who are hanging up in the first minute they're on hold. There has to be a better way, no?

"Companies should instead give careful consideration to how they sound over the phone, combining voice and music that reflects their brand with informative, targeted messaging.," said Mark Williamson, Sales and Marketing Director, PH Media Group.

Let us pick our hold music. Give me the chance to kick back and listen to some Beastie Boys, and the chances are pretty good I'll sit through your on-hold purgatory.

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