Jeffrey Saltzman's Blog

Enhancing Organizational Performance

We Are Currently Experiencing Unusually High Call Volumes

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4:33 minutes and waiting: “We are currently experiencing unusually high call volumes” is a phrase that anyone who calls a help line for a large organization has heard over and over again. Have you ever heard “we are experiencing calls volumes as expected and have staffed appropriately so you don’t have to wait”? Or have you heard “Our call volumes are extraordinary low today so you will have an unexpectedly short wait”? I don’t think I ever have. Are they intentionally understaffing but thinking that they can get away with it by putting in a soothing yet contrived “we are experiencing unusually high call volumes?” Frustrating isn’t it. How do you want your organization to be known?

10:26 minutes and waiting: Are homes builders who advertise “bonus rooms” in houses saying that buyers do not have to pay for this space? That this “unexpected” room, this “bonus” is free, or are they charging for it, but that you should simply be happy about this unexpected, almost decadent space? If they are charging for it, it is no bonus but rather simply square footage that you are paying for.

15:44 minutes and waiting:  Oh, you wanted the “good” engine with that car, metallic paint you say – that will be extra. I expect that all you can eat salad bars are priced for the amount of food that they would expect an average person to eat, but what would happen if you sat around all day and slowly noshed on the entire contents of the salad bar – maybe you bring War and Peace with you and settle into a nice snack. Would they throw you out?  I suspect that they would. Want free drink refills with that salad?

20:27 minutes and waiting: One survey that was done a while back asked customers how many times a phone should ring before an operator picked it up. The customers said no more than 4 rings. The company came up with a novel approach to meeting that requirement. Rather then having enough operators to answer all calls by the 4th ring, they increased the time interval between rings to give the operators more time to pick up the call by the 4th ring.

21:30 minutes and waiting: Ever try to read the fine print on a credit card application? One professor had her class of about to graduate lawyers, about 30 of them, spend the entire class time trying to understand the fine print and determine what interest rate a card holder would actually pay. They couldn’t. How do you want your company to be known?

23:55 minutes and waiting: One manufacturer was concerned that the customers were complaining on a survey about product delivery times. They did not understand. They almost always got the product delivered when promised. They never asked the customer however, when the customers needed it. They were focused on internal processes rather than on external needs.

24:30 minutes and waiting: In linkage study after linkage study it has been shown that employee attitudes affect customer attitudes and that employee and customer attitudes have an impact on organizational performance and success, including financial performance. So why do these organizations behave the way they do? Ways that are sure to frustrate their customers. I think many of these organizations survive simply because the competition is having worse or just as bad execution problems.

25:45 minutes and got to go, just got the operator. Anyone want to add to the list?

© 2010 by Jeffrey M. Saltzman. All rights reserved. Visit OV:

Written by Jeffrey M. Saltzman

October 22, 2009 at 10:30 am

5 Responses

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  1. 35 minutes for Blizzard. Still no answer. What crappy service. =)


    May 5, 2010 at 10:21 pm

  2. Agree and hate holding. A mere phone answering service would make such a huge difference. No idea why they prefer to allow cusotmers to sit and wait. Good way to lose business.


    November 14, 2012 at 9:53 am

  3. Agree on all points. As a former call center operations executive, and a call center technology architect, I can tell you that this occurs to poor workforce management (Look at the Customer Service VP or Director for who has dropped the ball) and lack of call center technology experience (again look at the same person, and add in the IT VP/CIO for dropping the ball here.)

    My firm has connected companies small and large to a cloud based call back service for mere hundreds of dollars per month. Customers love the call backs, furthermore, all information about the caller is available to the customer service representative, so the caller doesn’t have to repeat themselves. In fact, many studies, including our own, rank repeating information after inputting it into an IVR is the number one complaint of Americans, followed by hold times. So we kill two birds with one stone for pocket change, and we do it in days, at most, within two weeks.

    Knowing this, what will you think about the executive management of the company you are being tortured by the next time you’re stuck on hold?

    Kevin C. Brown

    August 11, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    • There are two messages going on there: the main message is that this is a company that doesn’t care about its customers; their time doesn’t matter to them and their frustration is just not a concern: profit is all that matters. Why don’t we just start listing them so that people can avoid them before they ever reach the point of having to call them at all. Here’s a Scottish one for starters: Scottish Hydro. I’m about 25 minutes in right now and I googled the message out of curiosity. Well done, Jeffrey. You nailed it – lol.

      Capitalism will be remembered in history as a most unusual ecosystem in which most of the prey seemed really keen to justify the behaviour of the predators 😉

      I have a feeling they’ve all gone home 🙂

      OK, I give up… but that was fun – lol. Thanks Jeffrey! 🙂

      Jimmy Powdrell Campbell

      January 23, 2014 at 11:54 am

  4. Next time that you are on hold, send a tweet to the company and use the hashtage #onholdwith and copy in @onholdwith. You can see others’ queue problems at I see Scottish Power there often.

    Kevin Brown

    January 23, 2014 at 12:42 pm

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