There's nothing I love more than waiting on hold.
Pacing back and forth like a zoo animal, my smartphone burning a rectangular hole into the side of my face, feeling myself physically age? It’s pure ecstasy.
Anticipating the exact moment when a smooth jazz saxophone will be interrupted by my cable provider’s latest promotions? Or when I’m screaming “AGENT,” “OPERATOR,” “BILLING,” and “MAIN MENU” at a robot that doesn’t understand human language at all?
The best part, though -- what makes waiting on hold all worth it -- is the chase to talk to an actual person. It’s an exhilarating attempt at human connection.
Some people hunt deer or fowl in their spare time. Others hunt bargains. Me? I hunt disillusioned customer service reps who pass me back and forth like a hot potato with the plague.
So, I have to wonder …
Why on earth do companies put customers (commonly defined as people paying them money) through musical loops long enough to trigger existential despair?
Do they think that this helps their business? Do they think we honestly just love jazz?
Executives say this “waiting on hold” system saves them money, reducing their support costs. They say with fewer support staff members, they can squeeze out higher productivity per employee.
Well, C-level penny pinchers, I have three facts for you. It’s time to look up from the miniature putting green in your corner office and face the music. (The real music, not your horrendously repetitive smooth jazz).
- It costs 5 to 25 times more money to acquire a new customer than keep an existing one happy. After 20 minutes of saxophone, I’ve long since forgotten how good your product may have been. I’m too busy slamming my forehead against a desk.
- The #1 most-trusted source of new businesses are referrals. I’m definitely not referring my friends to your company after I recover from my call-induced-forehead-slamming-concussion.
- It costs 15X more money to hire new employees than keep existing ones happy. If there’s anyone I pity more than myself, it’s the poor souls on the other end of the line. Keep running those high-volume call centers, giving your employees no room to breathe from one call to the next. Watch them jump like fleas off a drowning cat.
Wake up. It’s the 21st century. Customer happiness is what grows your business. Not that $4 million commercial you purchased for 30 seconds on ABC.
We’re not phone numbers in your call queue. We’re not tickets in your system. We’re human beings. And we’re definitely not that into jazz.
If you want to keep us around, start treating us like humans. Or we’ll leave you for someone who will.
A version of this blog post originally appeared on ThinkGrowth.org.