BBC News

Do companies really value your call?

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Being told that your call is valued is the most annoying feature for those waiting on the phone to a company, a new survey suggests.

Consumer group Which? said nearly half of its members surveyed said such reassurance was most likely to make them see red while hanging on the line.

Next on the frustration list was being directed to the company's website, and apologies for all operators being busy.

Callers would rather be told how long they would have to wait, Which? found.

Many also wanted to know where they were in the queue, and to be given the choice of being called back. Nearly half of those asked said that classical music was the most soothing while waiting.

Nine in ten of those asked felt that they were prepared to wait on the line for no longer than five minutes.

Richard Headland, editor of Which? magazine, said: "Waiting on hold is a waste of time, but some organisations make the experience needlessly annoying through objectionable messages and music.

"If these drive you round the bend, vote with your feet and take your custom elsewhere. The best companies know the value of answering your call quickly."

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Businesses lining up a queuing strategy

Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, a trade body, said: "People are time-poor and less likely to be happy waiting for service as a result. It means consumers are less understanding of organisations that do not make it easy to get in touch.

"If businesses want to enjoy ongoing customer loyalty - and attract new business - their focus should be on convenience and efficiency. In short, this means getting it right quickly, and getting it right first time. Anything less, and customers will think twice about spending money or recommending them to others."

She pointed out that the phone is now consumers' third most popular method for getting in touch with an organisation, behind face-to-face contact and online.

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