You’ve been on hold for half an hour. Every few minutes, an automated message breaks in to assure you “Your call is important to us.” The longer you wait for an actual representative, how important you feel decreases. Your irritation skyrockets.

We’ve all been in this situation. How often do your clients experience it when they contact your call center? Unfavorable impressions created by wasted time won’t be undone. Not even the cheeriest, most helpful rep who resolves a client issue can erase their initial annoyance at spending too long on the phone.

Your Call Center Shouldn’t Cost You Clients

Having a long call center average wait time is detrimental for any business. To keep clients satisfied, start by monitoring and improving your Average Wait Time (AWT).

What Is Call Center Average Wait Time?

You can’t accurately monitor Average Wait Time (AWT) if you confuse it with other, related terms. The metric is sometimes called Average Speed of Answer. It refers to the average time an inbound caller spends waiting in queue or waiting for a callback if that feature is active in your IVR system.


That metric is the average time an agent takes to complete a call or customer interaction. AWT can be measured globally across the contact center, by queue, skillset, agent group, agent or phone number.


Reducing average wait time for your callers is just as important to customer satisfaction as the amount of time it takes for agents to resolve their issues. Whether that means optimizing your IVR system and ACD, hiring more representatives or giving them additional training to work through queues faster, there are as many techniques available as there are metrics to assess their success.

A Trend Toward Instant Gratification

We live in the age of e-commerce and social media, where consumers are used to having real-time service at their fingertips. It’s important for your call center to keep up with that demand. Take a minute to consider these acceptable wait times:

  • 2014: Maximum of 13 minutes (American Express research)

  • 2017: 2 minutes or less (Arise study)

This demonstrates the rapidly increasing trend toward expecting very fast, if not instantaneous, service. In the Arise study, 13% said no hold time was acceptable. If people didn’t believe their call was answered quickly, one-third said they’d hang up and never call back. (This is also known as Abandonment Rate, another important call center metric.)

3 Ways to Improve Your Clients’ Contact Center Experience

AWT is a key indicator of the health of your contact center, giving you a big-picture number that speaks to IVR optimization, agent performance and more. Addressing any of those factors can help reduce AWT and abandoned calls, but sometimes the answer isn’t as simple as just getting your numbers down. Here are a few general tips to help any company reduce long hold times:


Frustrating customer experiences are often reported due to ineffective IVR, which might give people confusing option trees, route their call to the wrong places or misread their inputs. It’s critical to test and adjust your IVR to:

  • Ensure callers get through quickly to the right department

  • Minimize time spent waiting for live call center agents

  • Reduce the number of call transfers


Agents who can handle calls quickly and more effectively are better suited to resolve callers’ issues, leading to higher rates of first-call resolution and customer satisfaction. Additionally, you can empower and incentivize contact center representatives to monitor the number of calls in their queue and reduce call times when queues are above a certain threshold.

Already have a stellar team?

If you feel that your contact center’s quality management is outstanding, it might be time to hire more staff.


The traditional call center industry-standard service level is 80/20 – 80% of calls answered within 20 seconds. But sometimes the key to improving customer experience is not actually reducing average wait time. Instead, focus on providing a superior customer experience. Fully answer questions and avoid having callers feel that your representatives are rushing through calls.

Only focus on customer experience if it doesn’t increase abandonment rate

If your contact center metrics show that you can relax the service level from 80/20 to 80/30, 80/60 or more, with negligible impact on abandonment rate, the implication is that your customers are impacted by factors other than less waiting time. Callers expect their customer service representative to be friendly, knowledgeable and effective, as well as fast.

You Can Have the Best, Most Responsive Team in the World and Still Fail

All the hiring, training, managing and queue optimizations won’t help if the underlying technology doesn’t work. Don’t let broken equipment, poor connections or a bad network stop communication. Here’s how our managed IT services keep our clients’ call centers up and running:

  • Preventative maintenance fixes problems before you notice them

  • Quick access to replacement stock if products break down

  • 24/7 support

  • Resolution of issues on your behalf with your phone company

  • Training users so you get the most out of your systems

  • Design and installation of enhanced call centers


You don’t have to figure out the technology you need for an optimized contact center on your own. We’ll work with you to understand how you use your call center and what your clients expect. Contact us right now: 423-899-9350.