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Most annoying call waiting features revealed

Which music irritates you? Vote in our poll

Around half of Which? members dislike being told that their call is valued

New research into the frustration of waiting in call queues has revealed what annoys us most.

A survey of 2,260 Which? members showed that around half (47%) found being told that their call is valued was the most annoying call-queue feature. This was followed by being directed to the company’s website (28%) and apologies for all operators being busy (11%).

As for the sounds that frustrate us most, an engaged tone (29%) tops the list followed by rock music (22%) and background ‘wallpaper’ music with no specific tune (21%).

We want to know what call-waiting features that you find most irritating. Let us know by voting our surveys below. 

Most irritating hold music

Listen to the three classic types of hold music featured below and tell us which you find most irritating by voting in our poll. 

Clip 1 – Classical

Clip 2 – Funky guitar

Clip 3 – Generic pop

Most irritating hold messages

Many UK companies interrupt their hold music with automated messages, but our research revealed that many find these irritating. Tell us which of these messages you find most irritating by voting in the survey below.

Clip 1 – ‘You are currently number # in the queue’

Clip 2 – ‘Did you know you can find the answer to a range of questions on our website?’

Clip 3 – ‘You can call back later or continue to hold.’

Useful call waiting features

Waiting for your call to be answered is frustrating, but there are things that can be done. When asked about the most useful features to hear, a third (33%) cited being told how long you have to wait, followed by where you are in the queue (32%), and the offer of being called back if you leave your number (30%).

In our survey, around nine in ten (93%) felt that the maximum time it’s acceptable to be on hold is five minutes.

But many companies are nowhere near meeting this. Research from Which? last year into call waiting times on HMRC, for example, found that it took on average 38 minutes for a call to be answered. Most firms aim to answer a percentage of calls in an agreed time and the industry standard is 80% of calls to be answered within 20 seconds.

Some companies are leading the way in improving customer experience. Consumers in the survey praised Aviva, Screwfix, and Amazon for helpful call-queue features such as call-backs and telling you your place in the queue. 

Vote with your feet

Richard Headland, editor of Which? magazine, said: ‘Waiting on hold is a waste of time, but some organisations make the experience needlessly annoying through objectionable messages and music. 

‘If these drive you round the bend, vote with your feet and take your custom elsewhere. The best companies know the value of answering your call quickly.’

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