Ho-Ho-Hold Please…Ending Hold Time to Increase Brand Loyalty

’Tis the season for consumers to spend more time than ever sitting on hold. It likely comes as no surprise that this is something they hate. But you might be surprised to find out how quickly being placed on hold impacts consumers’ overall feelings and attitudes toward your brand, and their plans to make a purchase from you. The holiday season is the ideal time to take advantage of the uptick in interactions with consumers to begin learning more about their specific needs, as well as start designing and implementing a fix.  

In our third Chat Commerce Trends Report, the Holiday Edition, Clickatell surveyed more than 1000 US consumers about hold times and activities. What we found was eye-opening and important.

On average, consumers spend more than 13 hours on hold each year. Ouch. But the real issue is that waiting on hold isn’t just inconvenient, it creates a negative perception of your brand—and fast. Spending any time on hold at all generates negative feelings. Bump that up to 5 to 9 minutes, and almost half of the consumers we surveyed have negative feelings about the organization they are calling. At 14 minutes, 71% have lost their loving feeling altogether. 

But it’s not just their attitude that suffers. Waiting on hold also makes consumers likely to backpedal on their planned purchase. Fifty four percent of the consumers we surveyed said they are “completely likely” or “very likely” to give up on their purchase if they can’t get help. This is a pretty dismal picture, especially considering the new online and contactless shopping world that we find ourselves in post-Covid. From product questions to order questions and issues, the contactless shopping experience is absolutely here to stay.

“Retailers and businesses need to more broadly ensure that they’re providing an adequate experience for all customers,” says Jennifer Shambroom, Chief Marketing Officer at Clickatell.

The good news? The solution — digitization and contactless payment — not only counters the negative aspects of waiting on hold, but actually creates a stronger bond to your brand than any other current form of purchase or support available. Moreover, it takes the pressure off your customer service team by streamlining and automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks like answering common questions and communicating order updates that could be readily available via digital mediums.

A strong end-to-end chat solution enables your live customer service agents to communicate with consumers over popular chat apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, turning consumers’ irritable hold times into helpful conversations and in-chat transactions. 

  • Respond to consumers 24/7 with chat communication in a contact center that uses a combination of both AI and human respondents. 

  • Add in payment for a full end-to-end chat solution. For example, Clickatell’s Chat 2 Pay allows businesses to send consumers a chat message containing a web link that easily takes them through the checkout process right there within the app. They don’t have to disclose credit card details over the phone or use a point-of-sale device.

Now is the perfect time to start. The holiday season for technologists is a time of “code freeze” and non-production changes. This makes it ideal to plan and sync up with internal teams and stakeholders.

1. Begin researching

Dive into your existing data and use the increased customer traffic of the holiday season to understand how and when customers prefer to be communicated with and what methods and individual platforms—email, SMS, phone, etc. A recent Clickatell study found that 82% of millennials are looking to make purchases via chat apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Many consumers prefer communicating with brands via SMS for two-way communications, which includes marketing campaigns, requesting updates on shipping and returns, and more. 

2. Sync up with internal teams

Dev and IT teams are critical to the success of your rollout. Bring them into the loop and involve them in the research and vetting of the software platform at the outset. Moving forward, your IT team will need to have access to all resources offered by the provider and be available to discuss any potential data security regulations and concerns (particularly if your brand is cross-border).   

Prep your sales and customer service teams on what’s to come—and solicit their input. A contact-free option for payments combined with two-way communication enables your service reps to solve payment questions and transactions (e.g., shipping delays, returns) directly and be more in-the-know. For sales folks, this is a key selling point that will set your company apart.

3. Figure out how to get personal

Design marketing strategies that provide customers with personalized product recommendations that fit their wants and needs. This will require analyzing customers’ behaviors (part of the research above) and promoting products based on a mix of assumptions and their purchase histories.

4. Outline your timeline and set goals

Set timelines and goalposts as you map out your rollout and communicate the plan to internal stakeholders. Set ROI goals as well—and don’t be afraid to aim high. Numerous research reports show us that this is the way of the future and return on investment will be significant. One of the best parts of incorporating chat as a channel is that you can start small and build as you get proof of concept with great results.

Begin figuring out how you’ll communicate this new update to support options to your customers. Encourage participation and, on the flip side, also provide an easy way for customers to opt-out.  

Download the Clickatell Chat Commerce Report Holiday Edition.

The best way to ensure you’re rolling out a chat communications program that will deliver in the right way for your brand is to work with an experienced partner. At Clickatell, we have decades of experience helping customer-centric brands strengthen the bonds with their customers. Today, we’re helping brands across the globe deliver Chat Commerce that enhances loyalty and solidifies repeat business. Let’s chat about how we can do that for your company.

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