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10 Clever Ways to Reduce Customer Service Wait Times

Christine James
Christine James

Good customer service can ensure loyal customers, and a crucial part of that is getting to each customer's concerns quickly.

How are you treating your customers? Businesses today rely on loyal repeat customers to survive the harsh economic times. Regardless of your company's niche or field, competition can be plentiful and fierce, and multiple options are available to potential customers both offline and online, makinb it quite challenging to land fresh customers. Therefore, it is essential to treat those you have well by reducing their waiting time.

Waiting is something you do not want your clients to go through. It can potentially create terrible press and company experience, especially when you are unable to meet their expectations. With many options available at the click of a button, customers will not hesitate to move on to a different company. Furthermore, because of internet growth, one angry customer can bring your large- or small-scale organization to a halt. Here are 10 proven techniques to avoid this.

1. Be open and honest.

Some businesses think that the best way to control their customers or to avoid delivering negative news is by hiding information from them. Customer service providers, for example, might say that the product will be available in a short time while they know that it is far from ready. To avoid falling into this bad habit, your business should use the principle of under-promising and over-delivering. This will ensure that you surpass customer demands and expectations.

If a client needs help troubleshooting an issue, be realistic in the timeframe you give them for getting it fixed. If you are not completely certain you will be able to deliver by a certain time, do not make any promises. Giving a 24-hour turnaround time as an estimate and delivering in 12 hours will likely get you much better feedback than assuring something can be resolved in four hours and then taking eight hours instead.

2. Practice proper communication.

Another common customer service mistake businesses make is failing to communicate clearly with their customers. Yes, there might be times when you struggle to deliver as expected, but being silent only aggravates the dire situation. Clients will be more comfortable knowing that your business is experiencing delays or you can't deliver the order within the desired time if you communicate this information. A good rule of thumb is to reach out to the customer before the customer feels the need to reach out to you. 

3. Improve hold times for customers.

If you run a customer service call center, you will likely be required to put your customers on hold rather frequently. Most customers hang up after just under two minutes of wait time, and 34% of those will not call back. You can use your call data to determine how long your customers are willing to wait on hold, as well as when you receive the highest call volume, allowing you to staff appropriately and reduce wait times. Make sure your call routing is optimized to deliver each phone call to the most qualified agent, and reward great customer service to reduce turnover and avoid having to replace talented customer service agents.

4. Have an organized queuing system for customer service.

Customers often get frustrated in long, poorly coordinated queues, and the sight of a long line may even drive them away from your business. To optimize customer experience and improve wait times, consider adopting a queue management system. There are many options that include familiar methods like tickets and sign-in sheets, as well as newer systems like digital registration that allows customers to check in or reserve their spot ahead of time online. When a customer knows their status in a queue, it can make the wait time feel shorter.

5. Adopt self-service measures.

With self-service, customers can perform some of the crucial functions on their own, hence reducing their waiting time. A few easily achievable examples are self-serve, self-checkout and live chat. Make sure that your business has a responsive and fast website that does not frustrate those trying to access the self-service features.

6. Use callback options.

This is a fantastic idea, especially if you have a customer service business that receives many calls a day. Rather than putting clients on hold for an undetermined period, you can let them know that you will call them back within a short time. However, it is essential to remain true to your word by calling the customer immediately when you get the chance. This allows your customers to go about their day and not feel like they wasted time sitting on hold.

7. Focus training on business knowledge.

When you employ any person, ensure that they understand how your business works. If they do not understand the different processes of service delivery or the details of the products you offer, your organization will always struggle to meet the needs of its customers. By properly training new employees on the ins and outs of the services or products, they can give customers quick answers, troubleshoot problems without research, and improve customer wait time and service overall. Keep an updated knowledgebase for employees to reference as needed.

8. Listen to your customers.

"The customer is always right" is a phrase many organizations use to help them satisfy customer needs. Today, customers offer suggestions, voice their complaints, and give ratings and comments on products and services online. These are reliable indicators of how they feel about a business. Use this information to improve your organization by first ensuring that those operating your company's digital platforms have the knowledge and training necessary.

9. Use the right marketing language.

Develop a clear understanding of the marketing message you are sending out. Sometimes, business owners get excited in an attempt to stand out from their competitors and end up communicating the wrong message. They might make insane promises they cannot meet, like a one-day delivery on goods that would typically take a week to deliver, or leave out features of their business that put them above the competition in terms of customer wait time. For example, if you provide a service that can be done in half the time of your competitor, include that in your marketing.

10. Stay focused!

Lastly, avoid becoming a victim of success. Once you provide a certain level of customer service to your clients, they will expect you to deliver the same every time they need you. If you don't meet their expectations, you will land yourself in trouble. Although the modern customer can be rather unforgiving, never waver in your mandate. Continue providing excellent services whenever you can.

Keeping clients happy and satisfied by reducing their waiting time is a crucial part of customer service. If you want to annoy and frustrate them, then keep them waiting for essential services or in-demand goods. Luckily, with the techniques mentioned above, you will have no trouble in managing their varying expectations. Most importantly, remember to communicate clearly and avoid making promises you cannot keep.

Image Credit: Kritchanut / Getty Images
Christine James
Christine James Member
Christine believes that every customer has a voice. She is the Community Manager at (a customer complaints website) and loves talking to customers on social media about their challenges with Fortune 500 companies. Her work has been published on Huffington Post, Inc., SocialMediaToday, and Thought Catalog.