This issue has got to be the “third rail” of the telephone answering service industry. No one likes to talk about it because clients don’t like to hear the truth — sometimes, you just can’t avoid putting someone on hold.
At the time of this writing, we have 155 clients. If I had 155 operators to serve those clients — with one operator dedicated to each individual account — I would be the most expensive answering service in the world. AND, we’d still have to put someone on hold if two people called the same company at one time!
Like many things in life, the answer lies in moderation and balance. You need enough operators so that the vast majority of callers don’t wait on hold, while not so many operators that costs (and therefore prices) skyrocket. Any live answering service that tells you different is fudging something somewhere.
We like to think we strike a good balance in this regard. 80% of callers do not wait on hold, and for the 20% that do, the average wait time is only about 30 seconds.
The system that the answering service uses also matters, and that is the subject for Part Two.