Hotels are at serious risk of losing business by leaving customers hanging on the telephone for almost 30 seconds at a time, according to new research.
A survey of 3,630 UK companies by audio branding specialist PH Media Group discovered hotels and B&Bs leave customers on hold for an average of 28.83 seconds per call.
With research from the USA suggesting that 50% of callers will hang up within 20 seconds if forced to listen to silence while on hold, business may be lost.
Mark Williamson, group sales and marketing director of PH Media (pictured), said: "These results represent a significant challenge for the hospitality sector and could pose a threat to profitability.
"Callers are simply unwilling to wait on the end of the line while subjected to silence, poor quality music or beeps so firms are putting themselves at serious risk of losing business.
Williamson suggested that good call handling is often overlooked as a key sales and marketing tool. "The telephone still acts as an important touchpoint and first impressions count," he explained. "If each caller enjoys a positive experience, customer service standards will go through the roof."
The study by PH Media Group also audited companies for the manner in which they handled calls, giving them a score out of 100. Hotels and B&Bs averaged just 33.
They were marked on the time taken to answer a call, the number of tiers a caller experiences before reaching the necessary department, use of consistent voice and music, professional and personalised voicemail and out-of-hours messaging.
"Inevitably, not every call will be answered within a matter of seconds, so when callers do need to be placed on hold for any length of time, informative and entertaining audio messages can help to maintain their attention and decrease perceived waiting time," said Williamson.