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Call Queuing in Inbound Call Centers

People Hate the Wait: The Importance of Call Queuing in Inbound Call Centers

August 18th, 2021

When you are waiting on the phone, every minute feels like five. That's why customers have little patience when they dial your inbound call center. At minute one, they are tapping their fingers. At minute two, they are sighing loudly and muttering to themselves. Up to 66% hang up at this point. If they make it to minute three without reaching an agent, the rest will probably hang up as well. Call queuing can improve your customer experience.

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Keeping your customers happy means giving them a positive experience with minimal wait time. If you do not handle the issue, you will lose business. Fortunately, you can quickly address wait times by using proper call queuing methods and technology.

What Is Call Queuing?

Call queue is a term for a line of customers who are on the phone. When they call into the center, customers take their place after those who called in first. In theory, this practice means callers will reach an agent shortly. Businesses without call queueing technology send their customers to voicemail or an “our agents are all busy” message if no one is available.

Customers quickly become frustrated if they cannot reach a live agent. They are seldom happy when asked to leave a message, and a “we are busy” message doesn’t really help either. Call queuing can help reduce frustration for customers trying to reach a live agent at your call center as long as the wait isn’t too long. However, long queues can also create real frustration in busy customers who need prompt service.

What Factors Create Wait Times?

This first step in reducing long caller queues is to identify the causes. Once you understand the issues, you can take action to correct them. The following are common reasons your customers have to wait for agents.

Peak Call Times/Seasons

Every call center experiences peak call times: those hours when the rate of call-ins can increase drastically. These peak times may vary according to the day, week, or month and be tied to your business services. Traditionally, Monday mornings have a high call volume, especially if your center is closed on the weekend. The calls may pour in as soon as you open. Calls may also pick up between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., when most people are having lunch. If your center stays open into the evening, you can expect to hear from customers who get off work at 5 p.m.

You also experience peak seasons. Calls to retailers and to other businesses rise precipitously during the holiday season. Callers bombard insurance companies in January when new policies take effect. And the IRS is nearly impossible to reach from February to May while people try and file their taxes.

You need to identify your company’s peak times and plan to add employees when needed. Your ability to scale up and scale down quickly minimizes customer and employee frustration while improving service.

Call Handle Times

Call handle time is a vital KPI metric. Your agents need to handle each call completely and quickly. When your handle times increase, customers wait in long queues.

Excellent agent training reduces call handle times, but you also have other tools to use. Consider offering omnichannel or IVR solutions to make agents more efficient. Also, integrating CRM software can reduce after-call work for your agents. You can shorten handle times without compromising quality.

Staff Availability

You may have enough staff but not be scheduling them properly. You need to make certain that enough employees cover peak times, and you can reduce coverage for quieter periods. Your company’s ability to schedule its staff effectively will reduce customer wait times.

Technology

Outdated or poor-quality software may increase your wait times. Your call center is only as efficient as your technology. If you haven’t upgraded your tech recently, you are not providing your customers with the best service. Cloud call center service provides all-important scalability. It also means you can hire more remote workers for peak seasons without seeing a reduction in quality calls.

Features to Help Long Queue Times

Reducing queue times is the ultimate goal to help improve customer experience. Combined with excellent customer service, this step will help strengthen your brand. The following options help you manage call queues and shorten wait time.

Call-Back Options

Invest in software that gives your customers a call-back option. This option allows customers to hang up but retain their spot in the queue. Your customers can go about their day-to-day activities and receive a call back once an agent is free.

Position in Queue/Estimated Wait Time

Your customers will be more patient if they know where they are in line and approximately how much longer they have to wait. The right software will inform customers if they are second in line with a three-minute wait ahead of them. They will be less likely to hang up if they don’t feel stuck in an invisible queue. Without this technology, 60% of customers are likely to hang up sometime between the two- and five-minute mark.

Voicemail Options

Customers do not love voicemail options, but they prefer them to making another call to your center. If your agents are unavailable, and customers cannot join a queue, let them leave a voicemail for a callback. Of course, your agents then must promptly return these calls or risk losing business.

Omnichannel Options

If you are not using omnichannel options, you need to start. Providing these solutions can dramatically reduce queue times. Although agents can only speak with one customer at a time, they can handle multiple chats at a time. This flexibility means your agents who are not working the phone can serve more customers. In addition, some customers find it easier and more comfortable to contact your company via email, SMS, or chat.

Improving Your Call Queues

Customers expect fast, convenient service and have little patience for waiting in line, especially on the phone. You can strengthen your business by identifying the causes of long call queuing wait times and taking steps to address these issues. Improved technology, scheduling, and training can quickly shorten your call queues.