Call queues that are not optimized well result in long hold times, decreased agent productivity, and a poor customer experience.
The good news is that enhancing your company’s call queue management strategy can provide you a significant advantage over your top rivals.
Because the most common reason for a poor customer service interaction, according to over 60% of consumers, is waiting a long time to get the assistance they require.
But what exactly is a call queue, and how can you give callers the support they require promptly without compromising quality?
A Call Queue: What Is It?
Commercial phone systems sometimes have a feature called a call queue that directs incoming calls onto a virtual line (queue) in accordance with pre-established criteria, putting customers on hold until the best agent to assist them is available.
It’s very similar to waiting in a line for services, admission, or for your number to be called. A virtual queue, on the other hand, can provide customers and agents with a significantly less gratifying substitute to a physical one with the correct queue management strategies.
Reduce the number of phone calls, hold times, and call transfers required to solve issues by using a call queue. In order to achieve this, call queues analyze caller Interactive Voice Response (IVR) input, adhere to pre-established call routing rules, and provide useful information to clients while they wait for an available agent.
The fundamental call queue procedure is shown in the graphic below.
It should be noted that call queuing does not make it impossible for a consumer to have to wait on hold.
However, call queues can significantly lower the percentage of incoming callers who must wait on hold if they are correctly optimized.
Features like automated callbacks, shared voice mailboxes, ring groups, and other technologies that we’ll cover later in this piece help to do this.
How Do Call Queues Operate?
Call queues function according to six essential phases and criteria that start the moment a customer calls your company.
These procedures and standards are described below.
1. Adhering to business schedule regulations
The time of the call in reference to the predetermined business schedule is the first item a call queue “considers” before replying to a call.
If the call is answered, the queuing mechanism will proceed in one of many ways:
- After or during business hours.
- On a weekday or the weekend.
- On a day off.
2. Automated Greetings
You frequently hear a pre-recorded message instead of a phone ringing while calling businesses.
When a call is received, these greetings begin to play automatically. Greetings can be fully created or chosen from a provider’s collection of pre-recorded greetings.
These messages contain crucial details to help the consumer the most, like:
- Name of the company and business hours.
- IVR menus to gather consumer data Information on the availability of agents right now.
- The preferred languages.
- Hold the music or messaging. (“We value your call very much. Stay on the line, please.
3. Call Distribution Automatic (ACD)
Every incoming call is received by the Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) component of commercial phone systems, which distributes it to an agent who is available.
The First In, First Out approach, a linear pattern where the first caller in the queue is the first caller who is sent to an available agent, is used by ACD to connect the caller to the appropriate representative in accordance with the established call routing rules.
It’s crucial to quickly emphasize the distinction between ACD and IVR.
IVR collects client information that determines where calls will be routed (reason for call, customer name, department sought, etc.) Based on the data the IVR system gathered, ACD is the tool that actually dispatches and distributes these calls to the appropriate agent or department.
4. Dialing Plan
When sending calls to agents, the ACD system employs call routing algorithms.
Since call routing defines which individual agent the caller will actually speak to, it is probably the most crucial step of the call queue process.
The best call routing techniques are:
- Calls are directed to agents in accordance with their particular training and expertise using skills-based routing (Billing department receives account statement questions, customer service department receives tech support questions, etc.).
- Calls are routed sequentially, starting back at Agent 1 each time, using a list-based routing mechanism (ideal for small departments or departments with gap in agent experience).
- Based on the agent’s time zone, calls are sent to accessible agents using time-based routing (ideal for remote, geographically diverse teams).
- Calls are routed to agents in a round-robin fashion, with agent A receiving call 1, agent B receiving call 2, and agent C receiving call 3. This method is good for sales teams and helps avoid overworked agents.
- The call is routed to the agent who hasn’t spoken to a customer for the longest under the least-occupied scheduling policy (ideal for optimized employee productivity).
5. Advanced Call Handling (Optional)
When talking about call queue tips and tricks, we’ll talk more about sophisticated call handling, which enables you to further customize how calls are handled.
It offers choices like:
- IVR/multi-level Simultaneous ringing on IVR.
- Common voicemail.
- Sending of external numbers.
- Phone park/hot desking.
6. Analyzing Call Queue Analytics in Real-Time and the Past
Both historical and real-time call queue analytics can teach managers a lot.
The number of callers in the queue, the average hold time, the number of agents now interacting with a customer, the number of agents available, and even queueing information by department are all visible in live views.
Because of this, queues can be quickly optimized to shorten wait times and keep employees from becoming overworked.
The data that can be obtained through live call queue monitoring is displayed in the image below.
Managers can better allocate agents and identify peak periods and recurring problems with the use of historical call queue analytics. Using these statistics, managers may assess the performance and productivity of their agents as well as spot communication trends.
Why Does Call Queue Management Matter and What Is It?
The actions you do to enhance call flow, decrease client wait times, and enhance your company’s current call queue strategy are referred to as call queue management.
In order to find efficient ways to optimize call queues, call queue management also refers to the ongoing monitoring and analysis of departmental and general call queues.
Why, then, is call queue management crucial?
Reduces Customer Waiting Time
It is crucial to take advantage of the chance to reduce wait times that efficient queue management affords because, on average, 2/3 of customers will only wait on hold for a maximum of 2 minutes.
Wait times for customers have more negative effects than just annoyance.
Queue optimization decreases average call handling time (AHT), allowing your agents to spend more time selling and serving clients. This increases revenue and client satisfaction levels.
When a firm wastes their time, almost 70% of customers claim it is their worst pet peeve. By using queue management, you may convey to your customers how much you respect them.
Increases the rate of first-call resolution
The percentage of client issues that are resolved during the first direct interaction with agents is known as the first call resolution rate (FCR).
The sooner you can connect a consumer with an experienced, capable, and available agent? The more your FCR, the better.
But why is FCR important?
First of all, it significantly increases client loyalty. According to studies, if customer service representatives had been able to address their problem on the first contact, approximately 70% of those who left a business would have stayed.
Additionally, a greater FCR rate reduces operational expenses while raising overall CSAT rates. According to studies, a 1% rise in FCR is associated with a 1% rise in CSAT and a 1% fall in operational expenses.
Finally, higher FCR rates can result in up to an 11% rise in customer spending and a 20% increase in cross-selling earnings.
Cuts Down on Call Abandonment
The rate at which callers hang up while waiting to talk with an agent or during a phone call with an agent before their issue is resolved is known as the “call abandonment rate.”
The main reasons for a high CAR include lengthy IVR menus, unhelpful agents, and long hold periods.
If you think that customers would easily call you back after hanging up, think again. About 30% of callers who hang up won’t bother calling your business again.
A customer can connect with an agent who can quickly address their specific problem, not just any agent, the faster they are less likely to hang up the phone. This has the effect of increasing sales possibilities, responding more quickly, and improving client satisfaction.
Increases employee satisfaction and output
Effective call queue management reduces employee turnover just as it does customer churn.
Agents won’t always have to deal with irate consumers who are upset that the agent they connected with is unable to help them thanks to an efficient call queue mechanism.
Additionally, agents will have more time to focus on the aspects of their jobs they enjoy the most, such as giving more thorough customer care and delivering polished sales pitches. Higher production levels, employee satisfaction, and staff retention rates are the result of all of this.
Long call lines: What causes them?
Although it’s simple to see the advantages of a better call queue approach, it can occasionally be much more difficult to pinpoint the root of huge call lines and excessive client wait times.
Long call lines are frequently caused by:
- Obsolete software.
- Departmental staffing shortages.
- Lack of client self-service alternatives and poor management.
- Poor agent selection and management of the workforce.
- Absence of readily available customer data, order history, and information on prior customer contacts.
Let’s look more closely at some of the key causes of your call queues’ uncontrollable growth below.
Call queue length can readily increase in departments that are understaffed or overworked.
Unfortunately, managers frequently fail to take into account one of the primary causes of lengthy call lines: poorly informed, poorly trained, or inexperienced employees.
Team members may be equipped with the knowledge they need to serve consumers with high-quality support by creating training webinars, making extensive internal wikis available for agents to view during calls, and taking advantage of complimentary training courses from your business software providers.
Customer Self-Service Isn’t Available
About 40% of your consumers prefer using customer self-service over speaking with live agents, making it a crucial component of the total customer experience.
Although your IVR system might give consumers the option to pay bills over the phone and receive answers to simple questions, self-service is more than just IVR.
Callers won’t need to place further support calls if they can find the information they require from your online knowledge bases, tutorials, chatbots, or even movies.
Self-service not only makes it easier for clients, but it also frees up your employees to interact with people who actually require in-depth support. Your representatives won’t have to waste time by repeatedly answering the same queries.
Maximum Call Seasons
Even when you follow all the correct steps, unexpectedly large call volumes can still surprise you, especially during peak call seasons.
To determine when the volume of incoming calls routinely exceeds the number of agents you currently have on staff, you should analyze consumer behavior.
Keep in mind that if a sudden increase in calls causes call queues to grow, adding more agents isn’ necessarily your best course of action.
A higher level of self-service via IVR or other communication channels, such as chatbots, automating repetitive activities to free up additional agents, or equipping agents with thorough call scripts and internal knowledge bases so they may assist other departments as needed, are all common alternatives.
How To Manage Call Queues Better
The good news is that the issues we raised above don’t call for big adjustments or costly expenditures like expanding staff or contracting out customer service.
Your call wait times will shorten and your customer satisfaction levels will rise if you use the ideas and methods listed below.
Utilize various routing techniques
Some of the most well-liked call routing techniques were discussed earlier in this article.
However, don’t apply the same method to all of your company’s phone lines or extensions if you want to significantly reduce call waits. Instead, use several routing choices based on the current call volume, agent schedules, VIP customer status, and more, not only for separate departments.
For each case, determine which routing tactics seem to work best. Be sure to modify up these strategies frequently to stay up with business expansion and changing client expectations.
For instance, time-based routing will be more successful in a billing department because all billings employees are trained to assist consumers in making phone payments, whereas skills-based routing is a better method for customer service departments.
Establish Call Groups
Call groups, also known as ring groups, are collections of agent phone lines or extensions that have been set up to ring in accordance with predefined parameters.
Because you can assign various agents to accept particular types of calls based on factors like the time of day, the agent’s best talents, or even agent preference, call groups are especially useful for larger businesses or departments.
Administrators can choose the number of rings before the caller is forwarded to the next member of the group, as well as whether or not all of the phone numbers in the group should ring concurrently or sequentially.
The intention is to increase the likelihood that a caller will speak with a live agent on their initial call.
Offer virtual queuing and automated callbacks
Automated customer callbacks are a terrific method to win over your customers as well as reduce call wait times.
Callbacks allow customers to pick when to receive a callback depending on what works for them rather than having to remain on hold for an arbitrary or especially long period of time.
This gives the consumer control and gives them the impression that your company values their time just as much as they do.
Additionally, you ought to provide virtual queues, which are comparable to customer callbacks but deliver callbacks as soon as an agent becomes available rather than at the client’s chosen time.
Both solutions let the customer live their daily lives without being reliant on their phones.
Improve Call Queue Management by Upgrading Business Communication Software
Upgrade to the appropriate corporate communication software and stop relying on out-of-date technologies that no longer serve your customers’ needs if you want to swiftly boost your call queue management approach dramatically.
Call queue optimization and resolution times are accelerated by advanced call center platforms’ queue management features such automatic callbacks, remote call forwarding, and CRM integration.