Hold Time

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Hold Time

What is hold time?

Hold time is the amount of time that a customer spends waiting on a call to connect with your representatives. It includes the amount of time for which your customers wait to connect with an agent while initiating a phone call, as well as the amount of time which they have to wait on hold when the issue can’t be resolved by the first agent and the call needs to be transferred to another agent or department. 

It also includes the amount of time spent waiting if your agent needs confirmation or authorization from someone else in the company and they end up keeping your customers waiting on the call.

Your hold time refers to the time that a caller spends in an agent-initiated hold status, it does not include the time during which a customer might put an agent on hold for any reason. Generally, a customer would call your support team up and get connected with an agent, they would have a conversation with the agent explaining the issue that they are facing and the agent might put them on hold. Here the call isn’t disconnected, but you could say that it’s pretty much paused and the caller is just waiting for the agent to get back to them and take them off hold. This might happen for a range of reasons; sometimes the agent might need to seek approval from their seniors in order to offer the customer the solution that they are requesting, in other situations, the agent might need help from the tech or product team in order to solve a particularly complex problem. 

How is average hold time calculated?

This is the average amount of time that customers wait on hold while conversing either with a particular agent or a department. It could even be calculated for your interactive voice response (IVR) system.

To calculate the average hold time, you first add the hold times for all inbound customer calls that an agent, department, or IVR answered. Then you divide the total by the number of inbound customer calls that the agent, department, or IVR answered. That figure is your average hold time.

How to reduce your hold time?

Nobody likes waiting on hold, it is a frustrating experience. The higher your hold time, the more your customers will be annoyed. 

Keep them waiting on hold too long or too often and they’ll just leave you.

Essentially, a higher hold time would result in lower customer satisfaction levels and could definitely lead to a higher customer churn rate.

Reduce your hold time, lower frustration levels and you’ll be able to increase customer satisfaction and retention. If your hold times are higher than what would be considered to be a good average hold time, it could be an indicator that something is wrong and that you need to look into the issue. You can figure out which agents generally have higher than usual hold times and figure out what the issue is. If the issue is that just a few agents do not completely understand how to solve certain issues, you can have a refresher course for them. If the issue extends across your entire team and is persistant, you might want to create a knowledge base or update your exisiting knowledge base. You could even consider hiring a subject matter expert who can answer your agent’s questions quickly or deploy a chatbot that could pull answers from your knowledge base and share them with your agents. 

What are the reasons for high hold times?

Here are some common reasons for high hold times

Lack of training

If your agents don’t know how to solve a particular problem for a customer, they’ll need to consult someone who can and maybe even request them to join the call. Rather than make your customers wait, just train your support team more.

Fewer agents

If you don’t have enough agents to handle the influx of customer queries, your customers will be forced to wait. While that’s a good problem to have, if you don’t solve it too soon, chances are that you will be facing a problem that’s the exact opposite of this one.

Need for authorization

If your agents need to seek permission from their managers, they’re bound to end up leaving customers waiting. 

How to reduce hold time?

how to reduce hold time

Here are a few ways to reduce your hold time:

Hire more agents

Hiring more agents means that your customers won’t have to wait on hold while agents are dealing with the previous customer query. However, this might not be scalable for most businesses and it might not even be affordable for a lot of small businesses.


Using self-service tools like chatbots and knowledge bases helps your customers find answers on their own, reducing the number of inbound customers queries as a whole, and thus eliminating hold time for those queries.

Live Chat

Live chat agents can handle multiple conversations simultaneously, which is not possible over phone calls. This means that your customers will not have to wait on hold.

Effective routing

Routing queries to the right agent the very first time eliminates the need for transfers and hold times. Contextual Routing can help with this.


Training your agents to deal with complex technical issues will reduce the need to bring another agent or specialist on most calls, reducing hold times significantly. You should also have refresher training sessions at regular intervals and retrain your agents whenever you launch any updates in your product or have any other significant changes.

Make your agents aware

Sure, your agents know that they need to be reducing their average hold time, but if their hold times are still high, they might just be in need for a constant reminder. In this siituation, you might want to add the average hold time to the agents’ dashboards so that it’s constantly on their mind, they are conscious of it, and will make efforts to reduce it.

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