Southampton Residents Unwilling to Wait on Phone Calls, New Survey Finds

A new survey by 8×8, Inc. reveals that Southampton residents are among the most impatient in the UK when it comes to phone calls, preferring to wait less than 20 seconds for an answer and no longer than 49 seconds on hold. The survey, which precedes the CX South 2024 conference, also finds that under 30s are more likely to use chatbots or messaging services, while over 30s prefer phone calls. Despite the frustration, only 28% would switch providers due to poor phone service.

  • People in Southampton have very low patience when it comes to being on hold, waiting less than 20 seconds for a call to be answered.
  • A survey by 8×8, Inc. revealed that individuals under 30 prefer using chatbots or messaging services, while those over 30 still prefer speaking by phone.
  • Despite the frustration of being on hold, only 28% of respondents stated that they would switch to another business due to poor customer service experiences.

Impatience Strikes Southampton: No Time for More Than Six Rings

If you’re ringing someone in Southampton, you’d better be quick to pick up. A recent survey shows that the city’s residents are amongst the least patient in the UK when it comes to phone calls. Waiting for less than six rings – a mere 20 seconds – is the limit for most before they hang up. And if you put them on hold? They won’t stick around for more than 49 seconds.

The Young and The Restless

The survey, conducted ahead of the Customer Experience (CX) South 2024 conference, reveals an interesting age divide. Those under 30 are three times as likely to prefer using a chatbot or messaging service to communicate with a company. However, if these options are not available, they will resort to a phone call. Their patience stretches to four rings before they give up.

In contrast, the over-30s prefer to use the phone and will hold out for about six rings. The tolerance level for waiting on hold, it appears, is the same whether they’re calling a friend, relative or a business.

The Toll of Unanswered Calls

What happens when calls go unanswered? Southampton residents resort to other means such as emails or call back attempts. And if they do call back, they’re prepared to wait ‘as long as it takes’ to resolve their issue.

However, nearly a fifth of the respondents admitted to forgetting about the reason for their call until it escalated into a significant problem. These issues ranged from tax and banking problems to missed medical appointments and lost passports.

Gemma Dare, marketing events manager from Southampton, encapsulated the frustration many feel.

“Being on hold or waiting for a call to be answered wastes precious time that I don’t have, especially as a working single Mum, that’s why I give it a few rings and then I hang up. What’s even more frustrating, is that this is a one-sided thing. I very much doubt that a company would be understanding if I put them on hold for long periods of time, because it would impact their key performance indicators.”

Bad News for Businesses

The survey’s findings are not good news for businesses. Yet, only 28% of people said that poor phone response would make them switch to another service provider. Reasons for this ranged from lack of alternatives to sheer inertia.

Chris Angus, VP Contact Centre Engagement for 8×8, the company behind the survey, sees the issue from all sides:

“These figures aren’t great for people calling businesses, but they are also pretty lousy for the souls working in the contact centres for these businesses. By the time people get through – especially if they’ve had to call back time and time again – the customer can be grumpy and irate, who do they take that out on? The contact centre staff.
It’s 2024, we can – and should – be doing so much better for people and solving their issues. There are chatbots, ringback services as as multiple self-service options. The vast majority of calls happening to a business are routine matters and we have the technology available to deal with those”

Final Thoughts

These findings shine a light on the increasing impatience of consumers and the impact of poor customer service on their experiences. For businesses, the message is clear: improve your phone response times or risk alienating your customers. And for the rest of us? Maybe it’s time to exercise a little more patience.


Q What is the main finding of the survey conducted in Southampton regarding phone call waiting times?
A: The survey found that people in Southampton are amongst the most impatient in the UK when it comes to being on the phone, as they will wait less than six rings – under 20 seconds – for a call to be answered and won’t stay on hold for longer than 49 seconds.

Q What age group is more likely to prefer using chatbots or messaging services to communicate with a company?
A: People under 30 years old were three times as likely to want to use a chatbot or messaging service, but they would resort to using the phone if no other option was available.

Q How do people in Southampton resolve issues if companies don’t answer the phone?
A: They stated that they would try alternative methods like email or call back if necessary, as a last resort. If they called back, they would then stay on hold ‘as long as it took’ for the issue to be resolved.

Q What percentage of respondents said that their experience of being on hold or not having their call answered would make them switch to another business?
A: Only 28% of respondents mentioned that their negative phone experience would lead them to switch to another business or provider of a similar service.

Q What solutions did Chris Angus, VP Contact Centre Engagement for 8×8, suggest to improve the situation for both customers and contact centre staff?
A: Chris Angus suggested using technologies like chatbots, ringback services, and self-service options to handle routine customer calls more efficiently. He emphasised the need for better customer service in 2024 with the available technology.


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