It pays to have happy customers and long contact center wait times are one great way to ensure the company doesn’t get paid. That number at the bottom of your company income statement is directly related to the happiness of someone you might currently have on hold. Is that a customer you’ll have to fight to keep or one that proclaim the service of your company?
Importance of Call Queue Management
Call queue management is the single most important function in the call center. The greatest service in the world can’t be appreciated if a customer can’t connect to your representatives. World-leading products mean nothing if a customer isn’t able to reach your sales representatives to buy them. Consumer tolerance and expectations have tightened dramatically over just the last two years and keeping up is essential more than ever.
The right software, training, management and strategies can help ensure that your queue times stay within a healthy statistical range and even help move that range to outperform industry standards. Solutions that are scalable ensure effectiveness and are crucial during seasonal fluctuations and high volume hours.
Here are the 10 management systems, technologies and strategies your contact center needs for great call queue management.
1. Virtual Queues / Call Back Features
Virtual queues allow a caller to maintain his/her place in the queue while not having to remain on the line. Your customer would much rather be interacting with the world instead of sitting on hold. The offer to call them back actually results in psychological relief and appreciation.
For the contact center, scalability is key, especially in regards to managing an influx of call volumes. This translates into savings due to the reduced need for overtime work.
Customers are happy and the contact center better manages scalability and the costs that come with it. This technology isn’t the exception it was in the mid to late 2000s. It is now the rule.
2. IVR Systems
IVR systems are an essential tool. Customers have differing needs and your agents have differing expertise. Matching them immediately matters. Few things are more likely to cause customer frustration and cause increased queue times than a customer connecting to the wrong expert and needing to be transferred.
Ensuring your callers reach the right departments or agents the first time is mission-critical.
IVRs that can address simple issues and eliminate the need to speak with an agent altogether are an amazing development. The ability to quickly verify an account against a phone number and pin and then provide requested information, like a bill amount, is effective not so much in its ability to enhance customer perception but to avoid introducing more complexity into the system. Additional complexity and variability always increase the possibility for a bad customer experience, never reduce it.
As IVR AIs evolve to become more intelligent and responsive, make sure your IVR is evolving too.
3. Display Call Queue Metrics
Something as simple as involving agents in the process and giving them success targets can make a massive difference. As a general psychological rule, people will consider the success of their tribe as their own success and will strive for it once it is defined. Giving your teams real-time access to their data and creating awareness of successful metrics pays off.
For an extra boost, teams that work for a prize or recognition will realize increased efficiency, improved team dynamics and higher employee engagement. Yes, that reward of a dozen donuts is worth thousands and thousands of dollars.
4. Cross Train Agents
As previously mentioned, call transferring is to be avoided at all costs. A transfer is nothing short of pure evil when it comes to customer satisfaction and center productivity.
Agents that are knowledgeable and cross-trained in several areas of contact center function, can reduce call transferring by solving more issues on one call. Experts are also more likely to make sure that calls needing transfer go to the right place.
A contact center must have subject matter experts that can train teams in team meetings, online training resources and the potential for representatives to sit with other agents in other departments.
5. Call Recording / Call Coaching
As part of training, call recordings and call coaching are essential. This is a chance for managers and experienced agents to provide agents with real-time feedback and training while plugged in during agent interactions.
Recorded calls serve the very beneficial purpose of letting the agent hear himself/herself and truly self-diagnose along with a manager.
Listening to calls will also tell center leadership where opportunities to increase knowledge or reduce mistakes might exist.
6. Try Different Routing Strategies
Call routing strategies could be causing higher queue times. Never stop testing new strategies, such as:
- Round Robin
- Ring All
- Last Used
- Least Idle
- Dynamic and Service Level
Companies with multiple teams or contact centers are fortunate in their ability to test routing strategies against one another. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy and testing is an absolute necessity.
7. Add Additional Channels
Omnichannel solutions can generally reduce queue times. As more and more customers move to service formats like chat, email, SMS and social media, the need to call in is averted but response time matters no less. Many of the same strategies apply to effectively use these channels to replace traditional call center operations. Properly managed, there are multiple advantages over call-in interactions including:
- Agents can handle multiple customers at once
- The AI can route more efficiently from typed responses
- Different routing options are easier to test
8. Workforce Management and Scalability
It’s apparent that having the right amount of agents is necessary for well-managed queue times, but that doesn’t mean having more agents than needed. Overtime has been a common response to unexpected spikes in calls but is extremely expensive. Remote agents can be an effective approach to unexpected peaks in calls.
Software also has to scale for changes in workforce management. The lowest cost and most effective response to times that necessitate a scale-up of the workforce will be software solutions that can be rapidly deployed.
9. Test Your Queues
ABT – Always be testing. Managers and agents should be testing queues before taking calls. Finding problems now can eliminate bottlenecks later. A misconfigured IVR can be devastating to customer service if customers can’t reach a live agent.
10. Analyze Feedback
So, you think you’ve done everything right and the world is peachy? Your customers might think differently. Feedback is crucial. Soliciting feedback from anyone and everyone is crucial.
Is the IVR user-friendly? Are agents skilled enough? Are customers willing to give five-star reviews or did they hate being transferred so much? Ask your customers, measure and adjust as necessary.
You don’t know what you don’t know until you know.
Queue Management Can Improve Your Reputation
Utilizing these 10 call queue management tips are essential to the success of not only your contact center but the entire company. Making sure a customer gets where they needs to be, talks to a knowledgeable agent and spends as little time as possible in a call queue can be the difference between a customer you fight to keep or one that preaches the awesomeness of the service experience.