Accounting firms keeping clients on hold for too long when they call

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Accounting firms in North America are taking the risk of losing business by making their customers wait on hold for more than 25 seconds, according to new research.

The study, from the audio branding specialist PHMG, found that callers are being forced to wait for 25.81 seconds on average, slightly less than the North American average of 28.05 seconds across all types of businesses. Every call was put on hold, according to the study, compared to a North American average of 70 percent.

To make matters worse, callers are often forced to listen to radio silence, generic-sounding music or beeps while on hold, increasing the risk they will just hang up on the call. The research found 51 percent of accounting firms leave customers waiting in silence, while 31 percent used generic music and 14 percent subjected callers to beeps. The study also found accounting firms answer the phone within an average of three rings, but only 2 percent use an auto-attendant service to answer callers outside regular business hours.

“The research results do not reflect particularly well on the accountancy sector, as few firms appear to be employing a best practice approach to call handling,” said PHMG CEO Mark Williamson. “It’s worrying that customers are being left on hold for over 25 seconds as this can be a major irritation for customers, but what makes matters worse is that they are left in silence or listening to poor-quality music, which increases the risk of hang-ups.

He pointed to a previous study of 2,234 U.S. consumers that found 59 percent of them indicating they would not do business with a company again if their first call wasn’t handled to their satisfaction.

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