Average person lasts 9 minutes on hold before losing cool; Millennials most patient

NEW YORK — All the folks who peg millennials as entitled, impatient crybabies, may want to put a sock in it. A new survey finds that while the average person can stand 9 minutes of being on hold with a company’s customer service line before losing their cool, millennials are the most patient age group.

How long can you take being on hold before you lose your patience? That’s just one question posed to 2,000 Americans over 18 in a survey commissioned by Jive Communications. Researchers polled participants on customer service experiences and expectations and found that while the average American could tolerate listening to hold music for nine minutes, millennials (those between 18 and 35 years old) could last 11 minutes before they started to get upset.

Angry woman
How’s your patience? A new survey finds the average person can stand 9 minutes of being on hold with customer service before losing their cool, but millennials are the most patient age group.

Conversely, respondents over the age of 55 could only last about eight minutes before their mood soured.

What’s most upsetting for consumers when contacting a company on the phone? Being transferred to several people was found to be the biggest source of frustration by those polled (55%). On the flip side, the key to leaving a consumer with a smile on his or her face is dealing with a friendly agent on the line, says 8 in 10 participants.

When the researchers introduced hunger into the equation — a key accelerant in customer service rage — millennials still kept their cool longer than those over 55 for shoddy restaurant service. The survey showed the average millennial would wait 21 minutes for their food, compared to just 17 minutes for the oldest bunch, and 18 minutes for those 36 to 54. If the drink wound up being incorrect, a third of millennials said they wouldn’t complain about the error. Only 12% of the oldest segment would let the mix-up slide, compared to 19% of respondents 46 to 54 and 26% of people 36 through 45.

“Attention to customer satisfaction will determine which companies succeed and which companies crumble,” explains Sterling Snow, a Communications Director for Jive in a press release.

As for other common consumer nightmares, dirty hotel rooms were a source of anger for the vast majority of participants, but 15% of millennials actually wouldn’t complain to the front desk — compared to 2% of the oldest group. Those figures were the same for millennials and older adults who would complain to a clothing store about buying an item with a hole in it.

Meanwhile, millennials were also most likely to give a business a second chance after a customer service mistake, with about 4 in 10 admitting they’d still return somewhere they had a negative experience. That’s compared to 23% of those over 55.

It’s not surprising that the survey determined 87% of Americans have dealt with bad customer service at least once in their lives. Yet, despite the poor experience, only 78% would be likely to complain to a manager. As for how to resolve company mistakes, 68% of respondents indicated they’d like to be given something free for dealing with a gaffe.

If a situation wound up turning into a pleasant experience, 8 in 10 respondents say they would leave the business a positive review.

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Ben Renner

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