7 factors that affect caller tolerance

There are 7 factors that affect caller tolerance. They influence everything from how long callers will wait in queue to how many will abandon, how many will retry when they get busy signals, and how they will react to automation, such as a Voice Response Unit (VRU). They also affect how callers perceive the service the call center is providing. They are as follows:

  1. Degrees of motivation – How motivated are your callers? Callers experiencing a power outage will usually wait longer to reach their utility than those with billing questions.
  2. Availability of substitutes – Are there substitutes the caller can use if they can’t get through to the initial number they are trying? If they are highly motivated and have no substitutes, they will retry many times if they get busies and will generally wait a long time in queue if necessary. But if they know of an alternative number to try, or if there are other selections in your automated attendant, they may try those alternatives. Or they may try fax, Web or VRU-based services.
  3. Competition’s service level – If it’s easier for callers to use competitive services or if they have a tough time reaching you, they may go elsewhere.
  4. Level of expectations – An organization or industry’s reputation for service – or the level of service being promoted – has a bearing on caller tolerance.
  5. Time available – For example, a caller’s occupation can affect caller tolerance. Doctors who call insurance providers are infamous for being intolerant of even modest queues. Retirees, on the other hand, may have more time to wait.
  6. Who’s paying for the call? – In general, callers are more tolerant of a queue when toll-free service is available. They are intolerant of even short waits when they are paying for premium priced numbers (e.g., 900 service).
  7. Human behavior – The weather, the caller’s mood and the time of day all have a bearing on caller tolerance.

Keep in mind that these factors are not static. They are constantly changing. Even so, it is important to have a general understanding of the factors affecting your callers’ tolerance.

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