#HoldNoMore: Why We Need a Movement

We’re on a mission to take people off hold in 2016.

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s 2016 and brands still don’t get it. The fact that consumers are forced to call a 1–800 number and wait on hold in an age of instant digital connection is downright unbelievable. People on team LivePerson are especially perplexed, mainly because we’ve built the business of helping brands better connect with their customers — and we live it every day. Making customer service as convenient as possible and fostering actual relationships between brands and consumers is our job. We know a better solution exists, and we know consumers want it.

We’ve been in this business for 20 years, and we see the opportunity for better customer service on the horizon.

We’ve invested in the technology — a secure, scalable platform — for brands from retail to financial service. We’ve invested in our team. And now, we’re taking our vision directly to consumers in hopes of igniting a movement. Picture with us, if you will, a world where people hold no more…

Nearly 50 years of 1–800 “technology” is enough.

In 1967, the 1–800 number was introduced. According to Fast Company, an AT&T scientist named Roy Weber is the man responsible for 1–800 Nation. “The patent has my name on it, but AT&T owns it,” he jokes. “Otherwise, Bill Gates would the second-richest person in America.”

Since the 1960s, we’ve invented phones and cars with more computing power than NASA used in 1969 when it sent astronauts to the moon, connected devices that learn our family’s preferences for simple tasks like heating our home, and automated drones with the ability to deliver healthcare, consumer goods, or national defense when and where it’s needed. Yet nearly 50 years since the 1–800 number was conceived, we’re still dreading it and wasting our lives on hold.

Here’s a look at the current situation:
• 85% of customers calling businesses in the US for help are put on hold.
• 67% will hang up before speaking to a representative.
• And, at the end, roughly 50% of those who call will leave with their problems unresolved.

So, why are brands stuck in the ’60s when it comes to the call center? And how do we progress forward?

It’s time to get off hold.

My fellow consumer: We’re wasting our lives on hold. That’s right — on average, nearly two months per person are wasted on hold. Think of what you could do with that time?! It’s mindboggling.

Businesses: At least the traditional call center is profitable, right? Wrong. Businesses are spending, on average, $6 each customer call. That’s easily over a billion dollars a year on interactions that end up alienating and frustrating customers.

According to Forrester: “Customers today simply want efficient, effortless service and are increasingly using chat as a way to get to the information that they are seeking…Chat usage rates have risen in the past three years — from 38% in 2009 to 43% in 2012 to 58% in 2014…[A]ll demographics — young and old — are comfortable with chat.” Plus, “Chat can cost less than a voice call, especially for organizations that allow their agents to handle multiple chat sessions simultaneously.”

At the end of the day, consumer frustration with phone-based customer service is at an all-time high. You see more and more customer service disasters going viral every month. And guess what, businesses? You’re doing your brand and your customers a disservice with the 1–800 number.

According to Deloitte, a quarter of people won’t make a single phone call this week. So, it’s safe to say they certainly don’t want to call brands for customer service. The numbers are clear, but progress is still far too slow to keep up with customer expectations. What to do?

Launch a movement.

Drastic? Maybe. But this isn’t the first time consumers have banned together to enact change. Think back to the do-not-call regulation of the early aughts, which protected Americans from unsolicited telemarketing calls. Or, years later, the tarmac delay rules, which established a hard limit for how long an airline could keep passengers stuck on the tarmac — a practice that had reached critical mass and attracted international media attention.

We’re not the first to make noise about customer service practices either. In 2012, actual regulations were issued in Israel to limit the wait time in customer service centers to three minutes, max. Should hold times go beyond the three-minute limit, a business must offer the caller an alternative (like leaving a message to be called back within three hours, etc.).

Now we’re focusing on the 1–800 number. Are phone calls really the bane of all customer service? No. But it’s a great place to start in our efforts to bring CX to the twenty-first century.

Doing our part: Slay the 1–800 number and its 18 minutes of soft jazz! #HoldNoMore

It all started in 1995. Our CEO, Rob LoCascio, was checking out Dell’s website and needed some support. He thought it was strange (not to mention inconvenient) that he had leave the website to pick up the phone and dial a 1–800 number to reach anyone. At least, he thought, there should be a chatroom (remember those?) or another form of support within the website itself.

At the time, there wasn’t an opportunity for brands to connect with customers in an easy way to handle transactional or support matters.

Hence, the dawn of LivePerson’s solution. We pioneered the technology that lets brands communicate with customers online via live chat. We’ve continually iterated and recently launched a platform to help banks, retailers, and telcos bring those conversations — and transactions — to mobile. Today, LivePerson partners with more than 18,000 customers, including Citibank, IBM, and Verizon. Our platform facilitates approximately 27 million engagements each month. This is the next wave of web, and it brings with it an always-on connection that gets consumers off hold. For good.

LivePerson launched holdnomore.org with a very simple mission: to demand that companies everywhere offer an alternative to waiting on hold for help.

Most successful policy campaigns have a fighting chance when backed by a critical mass of consumer voices. So, we need your help to make it happen. The end goal: a world where we don’t have to waste our time on hold, and we have a direct connection with a real person.

Want to read more about the movement? Check out a few of the more entertaining articles below.

10 Phases of Being Put on Hold
25 Things I’d Rather Endure Than Being Put on Hold
10 Facts about Being on Hold & the History of the 1–800 Number
The Faces of #HoldNoMore: Behind the Movement

Ready to shape an environment where we’re no longer waiting on hold? Join the movement! Visit holdnomore.org to get involved and follow us on Twitter for updates.

Article by Erin Kang. Originally published on the Connected Customer blog.

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