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Prospective Clients Hang up When on Hold, Study Finds

'Thanks for calling. Please hold.'

Click.

That's what happens when you put a prospective client on hold for too long, according to a study by an audio-branding company. And lawyers are some of the worst call-holding offenders.

PH Media Group, which called 2,695 businesses across the country for the study, reports that law firms put their callers on hold for an average of 36.07 seconds--longer than the national average.

How Bad Are These Results?

"The research results do not reflect particularly well on the legal sector, as few firms appear to be employing a best practice approach to call handling," said CEO Mark Williamson in a press release.

Leaving a potential client on hold for 36 seconds may not sound like a big deal. But lawyers aren't particularly great at client communications in general. This is one clear area that has room for improvement -- especially when this small factor could impact your bottom line.

Also, if you think about it, 36 seconds is more than enough time to grow irritated. Even five seconds of silence or poor-quality music could drive any sane person to look elsewhere.

Calling Out Law Firms

PHMG said the holding time on average is 29.83, putting lawyers 7 seconds behind the national average. In addition to being slower, 46 percent of law firms leave a caller in silence while on hold. About 41 percent use generic music and 13 percent use beeps.

In a prior study, PHMG found that 65 percent of callers say they feel more valued when they get to listen to customized voice and music messages while on hold. The company says that 59 percent of those callers refuse to do business with a company again if the initial call isn't handled to their satisfaction.

The study also suggests that only a small minority of participating firms, nine percent, bother to use an auto-attendant or answering service to greet callers outside of normal business hours. Lawyers may be ruining their chances at new clients because of their phone practices, reported the ABA Journal.

And the next sound you hear will not be cha-ching.

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