Is there anything more frustrating than hearing “please hold” at the other end of the line? As it turns out, yes. While customers commonly gripe about being put on hold when calling their banks to dispute a fee, Bain research shows that the quality of the call center agent can have a greater impact on their satisfaction than the wait time.
Customers who waited less than 10 minutes to speak to an agent gave their banks an average Net Promoter ScoreSM of –45 if they felt that agent was “weak”—108 points lower than those who felt their agent was “strong.” In comparison, customers who waited longer than 10 minutes yet spoke to a “strong” agent penalized their bank by just 24 points.
In short, quality matters more than quantity when it comes to call center agents. Banking customers are willing to wait for “strong” agents who provide useful recommendations, give transparency around process timing, spend an appropriate amount of time on the issue, and are empathetic and knowledgeable.
The importance of agent quality over wait times remains regardless of the outcome of the fee dispute. Unsurprisingly, customers who were told “no” were less satisfied overall than those whose disputes were validated. But the consistent magnitude of difference between the two factors suggests good customer service helps soften the blow of longer wait times.
Ensuring customers don’t wait too long on hold is still crucial. But overhiring to reduce wait times, at the expense of quality, will likely damage customer loyalty even more. Instead, companies should focus on attracting, training, and retaining top talent.