Not ready, on hold, call wrap up time – all these Contact Centre functions are elements of total interaction handling time and are typically easy to track and report on.

Focusing on hold time, there has been a constant battle over the years between Customer and Representative (Agent, CSR, etc), whereby the customer may need to be placed on hold by the Representative, though as every minute passes, so does the customer’s anxiousness and/or frustration.

A Representative’s hold time however is easily tracked and can be performance managed, so this brings rise to a metric that remains untracked and unmeasured in most organisations, and potentially a masked way of making the customer hold – silence.

For one particular organisation, analysing, understanding, addressing and continually measuring the silence time on calls, unearthed a potential $1M in annualised operational savings, as will be further detailed later on.

Silence from a Representative to a Customer during a call does have its place. As an example silence could be required and customer evoked – e.g. the customer has asked the Representative to hold while they get some documentation or attend to something.

On the converse, silence on a call could be masking deeper issues. Issues include lack of Representative confidence and/or knowledge of the product or solution, lack of a Representatives familiarity with certain processes, or it could be used as an alternative to physically placing the customer on hold – “hold masking”.

When you stop to think about this, the compounding effect of all types of silence across all calls in a Contact Centre over a given period can be significant and have real detrimental consequences on efficiency and productivity – ultimately hurting Customer Experience and increasing cost.

In a recent analytics project performed by Ensighted team members, there was a startling revelation made. With over 10,000 calls processed through the speech analytics solution, it was identified that 1 in 4 calls had an average silence time of 25% or greater! The average handle time per call was 18 minutes.

So breaking this down, 2,500 calls had an average silence time of 25%, or another way to look at it, there was an opportunity to increase productivity by a maximum 11,250 minutes across these 10,000 calls.

Putting this into perspective, you could binge watch the first 6 seasons of Suits on Netflix 3 times over in that cumulative silence time!

Through insights analysis, It was further identified that silence was due to 3 contributing factors:

  1. incorrect Representative behaviours
  2. knowledge gaps, especially with new products offers
  3. process issues

Even at a reduction of only 10% silence time over a year, on the 2,500 affected calls per day, the business would stand to save approximately 16 Full Time Equivalent staff, equivalent to over $1M per annum … just on silence savings alone.

In another recent study we conducted, it was found that Representatives / Agents with high silence periods (double the average of the broader Contact Centre) transferred 50% more calls to another Agent or Supervisor. A real opportunity unearthed for this organisation to improve both productivity and customer experience through honing in on the specific causes driving this behaviour.

Just a few examples of how silence, when not analysed and left unaddressed and unmeasured, can significantly hurt your business.

When’s the last time you looked into silence on calls and how is it affecting your business, customers and overall performance?