What Is Call Queuing and How Does It Work?
If you’re a business owner or a manager handling a customer support team, call queuing is an important part of customer service. An effective call queuing system allows you to attend to more calls in a more orderly manner. It ultimately enhances the overall customer experience by assuring them that their concerns will be handled efficiently.
What is call queuing and how can you get the most out of it? This article discusses call queuing, how it works, its importance, how to handle long queues, and how you can make it work for you.
What Is Call Queuing?
A call queue is essentially a line of callers who are waiting their turn to speak to a call center agent.
When a customer calls a contact center, a customer service agent usually picks up their call and resolves their queries. However, call support teams to receive a large number of calls every day. It may happen that all the customer service representatives may be busy at the moment and cannot immediately attend to all the inbound calls.
Contact centers have a call queuing system in place for this reason. It allows a customer’s call to be placed on hold and added to a queue. Once an agent becomes available, an intelligent call routing (ICR) system will direct the call from the customer to the agent.
How Do Call Queues Work?
A call queuing system places customers in a call queue based on the order in which the calls are received. When a call center agent becomes free to attend to another call, the system will automatically route the next call in the queue to that agent.
Companies have different systems in place that handle calls differently. Most of them, however, initially and automatically route an incoming call to an interactive voice response (IVR) tool. IVRs gather information from customers by asking a few standard questions or presenting fixed options. Customers can provide input by pressing numbers on their telephone keypads or providing oral responses. This information is then used by the ICR to direct calls based on predetermined protocols.
Calls can be distributed based on:
- The offices that are open to taking the call
- Evenly distributing them among available agents
- The agent with the least calls
- The skills of different agents and the issues that a customer needs help with
- Whether a call is coming from a priority customer
- Predictive behaviors (matching the caller’s personality with traits of specific agents)
If a call can’t be routed immediately, call queueing systems may play custom music, inform customers of the approximate waiting time, or provide customers with the option of leaving their contact details so that an agent can call them back.
Why Is Call Queuing Important?
Since call queuing allows companies to gather information from customers beforehand while managing an orderly queue, it allows them to address customer concerns more efficiently. In addition, having a call queue means:
- Shorter wait times
- Customers won’t reach a busy line
- Fewer call transfers
- Reduces call abandonment rates
Ultimately, call queueing can enhance customer satisfaction by empowering companies to provide excellent customer service which, in turn, can increase sales and reduce churn.
If you thought that companies nowadays contact companies via social media channels, this 2018 Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark Survey will have you thinking otherwise.
The survey revealed that 66% of the 2,400 customers who were polled preferred to reach out to a company by speaking with a live agent. Knowing this, companies must pay attention and invest in resources to improve their call queuing system.
What Causes Long Call Queues?
To maximize retention, improve sales, and customer experiences, long call queues must be avoided. Here are the top 5 reasons for long call queues:
One of the common causes of long call queues is understaffing. If a call center doesn’t have enough agents to handle all of its inbound calls, customers will have to face long queues before getting their issues attended to by a representative.
2. Peak Seasons
During the peak seasons of a business, a company has to deal with surges in customer calls, resulting in long call queues. This can also happen when a company launches a new promotion or product.
3. Long Call Handling Time
Sometimes long call queues can arise if calls take much longer than expected or the time-to-resolution is longer than necessary. This can happen if an agent can’t understand the customer’s issue, the customer is unable to communicate well or interrupts the agent constantly, or the agent can’t manage a talkative customer.
Long call resolution times can also be the result of untrained customer service professionals. Poorly trained agents may not know how to handle customer calls effectively and find it difficult to resolve issues efficiently, preventing them from moving on to the next call quickly.
4. Outdated Contact Center Technology
Outdated call center software can hinder the productivity and efficiency of a call center’s agents. Modern software is equipped with call queuing functionalities and features that can collect a customer’s details even before the representative answers the call. This speeds up an agent’s work and reduces call wait times.
5. Call Volume Spikes Due to the Pandemic
With pandemic restrictions in place, more customers have been calling contact centers, leading to an increase in inbound call volumes. Companies that had already upgraded their call queue software before the pandemic or switched to modern call queuing solutions were better equipped to deal with the spike in call volumes.
In contrast, companies with outdated ICRs find it harder to tackle the significant wait times compared to more proactive businesses.
How To Improve Call Queue Management
ICRs provide a variety of ways to effectively handle call queues. Here are a few protocols that can be incorporated into a company’s call queue management system:
1. Callback Option
Provide your customers with a callback option. This will enable them to cut the call without remaining on hold while having the assurance that their queries will be addressed. It also enables better manpower allocation and cuts down on the costs of using an expensive toll-free number.
Moreover, you can ask customers for a time when your agent can call back. This will ensure greater customer convenience and keep your customer happy.
2. Advanced Routing
Nowadays, there are advanced routing options available that allow you to route your customers to live agents faster or provide other contact channels. Advanced routing options make your call routing system more sophisticated by using additional considerations and presenting alternative solutions instead of simply attending to calls in chronological order.
3. Interactive Voice Response
Self-service capabilities can help callers find the solution they need without a live agent’s assistance. IVR or digital contact channels help contact centers handle routine inquiries that are not urgent such as order status, working hours, and account balances.
Plan and test your IVR flows in advance so that you can offer the best customer experience. This will help ensure that customers adopt your self-service options and put them to good use.
You can also use a call recording feature to identify more self-service options. This can help you identify additional issues that can be handled automatically without the need to speak to live agents.
4. Workforce Management (WFM)
Adopting a WFM solution will help you match the schedules of your live agents with call volumes. Whether you’re managing peak call hours or lower call volumes, you can have the right number of agents available at all times.
This will also help you create better and more precise forecasts as you plan your staffing allocation.
5. Access to Customer Data
Provide agents with access to customer data even before they answer a call. In addition to the information collected by the IVR, you can also allow your agents to access data from the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
When the agent answers a call, they won’t have to ask as many questions or have the customer narrate as many details. With more context, they’ll be in a better position to address the customer’s issue and understand where they’re coming from and what they need from you.
You can minimize wait times, handle issues more efficiently, and provide a more satisfying customer experience by having the right call queueing technology in place. A properly calibrated IVR that’s linked to relevant CRM systems will empower you and your customer service team to weather tough customer issues, difficult customers, and surges in customer call volumes.
Upgrade Your Contact Center to Improve Call Queuing Experience
Your call queuing system and strategies play an important part in the overall customer experience you provide. Let go of old, outdated contact center software and migrate to advanced, sophisticated call queuing solutions from ULTATEL. Whether you’re looking for an intelligent call routing system or cloud contact center solutions, ULTATEL offers a wide range of high-end business communication technologies. Contact us today and let us help you upgrade and improve your customer service experience.