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America’s Speech Patterns Uncovered

by John Busby | February 2, 2016

Patience may be a virtue, but it is increasingly harder to find among U.S. consumers. In our hyper-connected culture, where our expectation is to purchase products or services on-demand, businesses that fail to adapt are at risk. This study is the first of its kind to measure the patience (or lack thereof), chattiness and fast-talking of Americans in all 50 states.

Marchex Call DNA technology measured hold times, rate of speech and frequency of speech from a data set of more than four million phone calls placed by consumers to businesses across a wide variety of industries from 2013-2015.

Ranking the Nation’s 50 states on gabbiness, impatience and fast-talking.

If you’re at a party with 50 guests, one from each state, who is likely to talk the most? Who will be the most patient? Who will talk the fastest?

The analysts from the Marchex Institute studied more than 4 million phone calls placed from consumers to businesses from 2013 – 2015, using technology that automatically monitors speech, silence, ring tones and hold times, to uncover speech patterns from residents in all 50 states. Here is what we found:

WHO ARE THE “FAST TALKERS”?

Americans are talking faster than ever – on average Americans speak between 110 & 150 words per minute. And recent studies show that we’re talking faster… as texts, tweets and technology causes many of us to speak more quickly to try to fit it all in. Who is leading the charge?

Talkative_BlogPost_Fast_Talker_v2

A clear pattern emerges when viewing the data on a map of the United States. The slowest talkers – as measured by words per minute – come primarily from the South. The fastest talking population comes from Oregon, and is followed closely by its neighbors in the Pacific Northwest, most of New England, the upper Midwest (states surrounding Minnesota and Iowa) and Florida.

You may notice that citizens of New York don’t talk the fastest… but they do talk the most… see next section for more details. How much faster is a fast talker? For every 5 words a slow talking state utters, a fast talking state will utter 6.

WHO TALKS THE MOST?

Just because you talk slow doesn’t mean you don’t talk a lot. Just ask the residents of South Carolina and North Carolina. These states make the top 10 list of “slow talkers” yet they also make the top 10 list for “most words in a phone conversation”. Who else is on this list? The entire Eastern seaboard from Maine to South Carolina speak the most words in a phone conversation!

Talkative_BlogPost_Most_Talkative_v2

The West and South from California to Texas also speak a lot on the phone, along with central states Illinois, Ohio and Missouri. If you want to have a conversation that is straight to the point, then focus in on residents from the middle. Most states in between Idaho to the West, Wisconsin to the East, Oklahoma to the South and all the way up to Canada use fewer words to get the point across than everyone on the coasts.

How big is the difference? A New Yorker will use 62% more words than someone from Iowa to have the same conversation with a business, according to our data.

WHO IS THE MOST IMPATIENT?

No one likes to be put on hold, and it happens to us a lot. In fact, we predict Americans will waste more than 900 million hours waiting on hold in 2016, revealing an urgent need for businesses to improve their customer service over the phone.

Below, we look at how tolerant residents from all 50 states can stand being put on hold. The states below in green are those that hang up the most when being put on hold. Once again, the Eastern seaboard dominates this category, but also the Upper Midwestern region of the United States is particularly nonplussed with being put on hold. The Southeast is fairly tolerant of being put on hold along with many other states in the middle of the country. Residents from Minnesota will hang up less than half as often as those from Ohio, North Carolina or New York.

Talkative_BlogPost_Most_Impatient_v2

Improving Customer Experiences

While this study uncovers America’s speech patterns, it also begs the question of how businesses can improve consumer experiences. After all, the “impatience index” is based upon how often we’re willing to wait on hold before hanging up in disgust! Studies from the Marchex Institute have shown that businesses can grow revenue and improve advertising efficiency by making changes such as (a) greeting a customer in a friendly manner and (b) reducing hold times.

In February, 2016 we’ll be releasing a study on modern measurement of call centers which will provide insights into how large brands can create almost $100 million in incremental revenue based on our studies of millions of calls from consumers to businesses. Visit us at www.marchex.com/insights/ or e-mail us at marchex-institute at marchex dot com with any questions or feedback.

To download a copy of this study, complete with a full ranking of all 50 states across the fastest, most talkative and most impatient talkers, please click here.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

JOHN BUSBY, Senior Vice President of Consumer Insights & Marketing

John Busby is Senior Vice President of Consumer Insights & Marketing at Marchex. Since 2010, John has run the Marchex Institute, a consumer insights group that publishes findings on mobile advertising, call analytics and online-to-offline commerce. The Marchex Institute also provides custom research and consulting services for key customers on their mobile and call-ready advertising campaigns. Previously, John served as Vice President, Product Engineering. Prior to joining Marchex in 2003, he held various product and program management roles at InfoSpace’s consumer and wireless divisions, Go2net and IQ Chart. John has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University.

SABRINA GRAVLEE, Associate Analyst

Sabrina Gravlee is an Associate Analyst at the Marchex Institute. She’s responsible for providing multi-channel analytics consulting and strategic consumer insights to Marchex’s key clients, with the goal to help them optimize digital marketing efforts and improve ROI. Prior to joining Marchex, she spent 2 years working in the commercial lending department for Pacific Continental Bank, a community-based business bank with headquarters in Eugene, OR. She has a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Washington.

ABOUT THE MARCHEX INSTITUTE

The Marchex Institute is a team of data scientists and senior analysts that deliver customized reports and insights for clients of our Call Marketplace and Call Analytics products. These findings inform business decisions and measurably boost ad campaign returns. The Institute’s insights and analyses have landed headlines in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes and other national media outlets.

Correction: An earlier version stated states marked in pink contained callers who hang up the most when on hold, this has been changed to accurately reflect those states as being marked in green. The previous version of this story had the bottom 5 lists for all categories listed as 46-50. They now accurately reflect the correct ranking of 50-46.

23 responses to “America’s Speech Patterns Uncovered”

  1. […] an analytics firm, measured hold times, rate of speech and frequency of speech from four million calls consumers made to businesses using the company’s software. Callers were from all 50 states and […]

  2. […] Ore. (KOIN) — Oregonians are the fastest talkers in the nation, a new study conducted by The Marchex Institute has […]

  3. […] BOSTON (CBS) – The Bay State is home to some of the fastest talkers in the country, according to a new report. […]

  4. […] Analytics firm Marchex analyzed over 4 million calls placed between 2013-2015, and measured the rate and frequency of speech from calls placed by residents in each state. […]

  5. […] Analytics firm Marchex analyzed over 4 million calls placed between 2013-2015, and measured the rate and frequency of speech from calls placed by residents in each state. […]

  6. Ken Spencer says:

    What about Hawaii and Alaska?

    • Marchex says:

      Hi Ken,

      Hawaii and Alaska don’t appear in our graphics due to their rankings in each category. Here’s where they placed:

      Alaska
      Fastest Talkers: 7th
      Most Talkative: 43rd
      Most Impatient: 10th

      Hawaii
      Fastest Talkers:27th
      Most Talkative:36th
      Most Impatient: 38th

  7. What about Pennsylvania?? Why is it in the gray??

    • Marchex says:

      Hi David,

      Pennsylvania is in the grey due to its ranking. We chose to highlight the top and bottom five in each category for the blog, but the full rankings are available in our whitepaper.

      Here’s where Pennsylvania falls in each category:

      Fastest Talkers: 18th
      Most Talkative: 22nd
      Most Impatient: 25th

  8. Arrogant Jack says:

    My take away from this… obviously I may be wrong, but it seems as though my state (the state of Oregon) not being in the list of who talks the most/least or the impatient/patient, implies impeccable communications skills. We talk fast, but not too much and we are relatively mild in regard to patients.

    -AJ

  9. […] analysts studied more than 4 million phone calls between 2013 and 2015 using technology that monitors speech, […]

  10. […] us to spit out 5. After learning greater than four million telephone calls (anonymously, in fact), Marchex discovered that Oregon, in addition to the higher Midwest (states like Minnesota and Iowa) and […]

  11. […] nationwide study from analytics firm Marchex examined speech patterns across the United States to determine the overall chattiness and […]

  12. […] of us to spit out five. After studying more than 4 million phone calls (anonymously, of course), Marchex found that Oregon, as well as the upper Midwest (states like Minnesota and Iowa) and Massachusetts, […]

  13. […] to say: That stereotype about fast-talking New Yorkers is just wrong. According to the Marchex Institute, which analyzed more than 4 million “this call may be recorded” calls, NYers are […]

  14. […] loping drawl—essentially, a British accent, only slowed to a fraction of its original speed. A recent study of the speech patterns of Americans suggests the Southern stereotype isn’t so off the mark, […]

  15. Dick Swart says:

    Speaking as a resident of Oregon and a former resident of Minnesota ,
    I find the results surp rising !

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcsIJqhGkB4&index=6&list=RDQvrh73BVraE

  16. […] the fastest and the most, as well as those that were most likely to hang up when put on hold.  The report reveals a few remarkable facts, […]

  17. […] will waste an estimated 900 hours on hold for customer service this year, according to a February report from advertising analytics firm Marchex. In a 2013 poll from text-messaging app TalkTo (since […]

  18. […] will waste an estimated 900 hours on hold for customer service this year, according to a February report from advertising analytics firm Marchex. In a 2013 poll from text-messaging app TalkTo (since […]

  19. […] will waste an estimated 900 hours on hold for customer service this year, according to a February report from advertising analytics firm Marchex. In a 2013 poll from text-messaging app TalkTo (since […]

  20. […] will waste an estimated 900 hours on hold for customer service this year, according to a February report from advertising analytics firm Marchex. In a 2013 poll from text-messaging app TalkTo (since […]

  21. […] 1. America’s Speech Patterns Uncovered […]

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