What Is A Call Queue And Why Does Your Business Need One?

When someone picks up the phone to call your business, they expect good customer service. But if they sit on hold without any idea how long they will be there, they will likely abandon the call and try again later—or not call back at all.

Companies need to answer their phones. But when there are more calls than agents to answer, the calls are left on hold until someone is available. Many customers become frustrated at long waits. If they don’t hang up, they may likely be less than friendly when an agent answers.

Over time, those missed calls can mean missed revenue—the answer is the call queue.

Making On-Hold A Pleasant Experience

The last thing any company wants is their customers to get a busy signal or a phone that endlessly rings without an answer. This is especially true during peak times like the holidays.

Another reason for frustrated callers is when an agent says, “Let me transfer you.” Sometimes, the call makes it to the next number only to hear that someone is out of the office. Or the call disconnects on the way to the next number.

More than just putting callers “on hold,” a call queue also intelligently routes calls to the correct agent.

Call queues automatically line up calls, so an agent will answer when available. More than just putting callers “on hold,” a call queue also intelligently routes calls to the correct agent. For any company, the call queue helps agents efficiently manage incoming calls in a timely fashion.

For callers, the queues can offer them a range of information that they may or may not think to ask about. In addition to music on hold, call queues can offer:

  • Estimated hold time
  • Custom pre-recorded messages, such as hours and location, upcoming specials, a smartphone app, or requests that they have information ready, such as an order number or policy number
  • The option to get answers to frequently asked questions and common requests without waiting for an agent
  • Options such as
    • Leaving voice mail
    • Callbacks from agents without losing their place in line
    • “Escape from the queue,” an option that helps callers be redirected to an alternate queue, leave a voice mail, speak with an operator or agent in a different area

A call queue can’t completely replace interactions with a live agent. However, it can supplement these interactions by automating routine questions and tasks that take up an agent’s time. Callers are assisted faster and more efficiently for these routine actions through the queue, leaving the agents available for more complex assistance.

IVR and Call Distribution

A feature called Interactive Voice Response, or IVR, allows callers to interact via voice with the phone system to get the help they need. A company can configure its IVR to ask callers a series of questions that get them to the proper person or message. Automated call routing coupled with IVR is the expedient way to determine the reason for the call and help the caller accordingly.

When the caller first encounters the IVR, it can ask the reason why they are calling. The system uses natural language processing to detect keywords that trigger routing to the most likely person or place.

The caller is then asked a series of relevant questions by the IVR that require either a voice answer or dial pad input. These responses determine how the system routes the call based on predetermined criteria.

There are three ways to distribute calls to agents:

  • Rotating, where calls are distributed to the agents concurrently who are the least busy and longest idle
  • Sequential, routing calls to the agents who are best equipped to answer them. The call routing is usually configured to go to the highest-skilled agents first and then newer agents in training that are lower on the list.
  • Simultaneous, where calls are routed to agents one at a time until they are answered.

All three methods ensure that calls are routed and handled, making waiting on hold a little better for the caller.

Why Your Company Needs A Call Queue

You may think the call queue is just for lining up calls. However, a call queue helps route the calls to the correct agents. They answer incoming calls quickly and easily while callers hear music and messages. But the benefits go much deeper. Call queues can:

  • Keep caller engagement while waiting to speak to an agent
  • Decrease the number of missed calls and call abandonment
  • Prevent callers from getting a busy signal
  • Provide different service levels for different groups of callers (i.e., sales, customer service, billing, etc.)
  • Improve the productivity of your agents
  • Help improve general customer service

Call queues can also allow managers and supervisors to listen to calls, step in, and record calls for agents in training. Many systems allow the recording of metrics such as caller wait time, caller hold time, and other important KPIs.

What metrics can benefit your company and improve your customer’s experience?

  • Customer Satisfaction score
  • Quality of Interaction
  • Service Level
  • Average Speed To Answer
  • First Call Resolution, or the percentage of inquiries that are resolved the first time a caller speaks with an agent
  • Average Handling Time: how long the calls take from the time they are picked up
  • Availability of Agents
  • Average Call-Transfer Rate
  • Rate of Abandonment
  • Post-call processing, or the average time it takes an agent to complete required tasks after a call

Call queues can help record many of these KPIs for analysis and help your team improve and enhance performance. Our Call Queue service can generate metrics reports per agent and queue and export the data into QueueMetrics.

A call queue can be added to your VOIP service for just $14.99 monthly. If you sign up for a VoIP phone system with Press8 Telecom, standard service includes over 50 free features.

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