Being on hold is no picnic. It seems to last an eternity, especially when you’re calling about an issue you’re having with a product or service.

We know how we feel individually about being put on hold, but recent studies have sought to find out how customers feel about being put on hold, how long is too long, and what their preferences are while they wait.

The results come from a variety of studies, so we’ll include the source for each statistic or fact next to the statement.

We encourage you to do some studies of your own at the office–start measuring and tracking your phone answer, wait, and talk times to see how you could improve your customer service!

14 Facts About Customers On Hold

1. Customers who are put on hold without background music thought a 30-second wait lasted 90 seconds. Customers who listened to hold music thought a 30-second wait lasted just 15 seconds.  AT&T Survey

2. Executives spend 15 minutes every day–that’s 60 hours a year–on hold.  USA Today

3. The average hold time across all industries is 38 seconds. Electronic Distribution Today

4. In one study, 88% of callers preferred recorded messages including specials over other hold options, and 20% said they’ve made a purchase based on an on-hold promo. Stan Rapp and Tom Collins of Maximarketing

5. 7 out of 10 business callers are placed on hold before the call is completed. Inbound/Outbound

6. A portion of a company’s customer base (up to 15%) is lost each year, and 68% is due to ‘indifferent or negative phone treatment.’ Oren Harari of The Tom Peters Group

7. After an average of 1 minute 55 seconds of hold time, most callers hang up – 34% of callers who hang up won’t call back. Small Business Chronicle

8. A full 88% of callers surveyed said they wanted to hear product info on hold. About 20% said they’ve purchased additional products based on offers like these. Sales & Marketing Management

9. Over 41% of American consumers have completed a purchase via phone in the last year. American Teleservices Association

10. Almost 94% of all marketing budgets are spent on funneling a customer toward a call. Only 6% is spent on handling the call once it is received. Inbound Telephone Call Center

11. When callers were presented with messages (promotional or otherwise) on hold versus silence or a radio commercial, they stayed on hold longer, were more likely to be interested in the product advertised, were more likely to retain information, and were less annoyed at the wait time. Jefferson Dennealen Marketing

12. Callers stay on the phone up to 25% longer when they hear messages on hold instead of silence or music. Infomax, Inc.

13. In their lifetime, the average person will spend 1.2 years on hold. Woman’s World Magazine

14. About 34% of callers who hang up won’t call back, ever. Voice Response, Inc.

How do you keep callers engaged when you have to put them on hold? As you can see, hoping they’ll just stay on the line isn’t going to be effective. For the best results, keep hold times short, play special messages with promotions and offers while the caller is on hold, or play background music while the caller is on hold.