What is a Small Business Call Queue?

Missed calls are one of the biggest issues for small businesses. Prospects and customers who call and fail to get answers or help from your company can cost your company money every day.

Many smaller businesses have a limited amount of availability, including employees. Unanswered calls that go unanswered are frustrating for both the caller and the business owner.

Sometimes a small business finds itself overwhelmed with calls after a media appearance (such as a podcast) or news story. A call queue intelligently routes calls to agents, and prevent them from getting lost in voice mail.

Large companies use call queues every day to manage their high numbers. Small businesses can also utilize call queues to keep their customers happy.

Call centers use this powerful function in their operations. But even a company with two employees can benefit from having a call queue.

What Is A Call Queue?

A small business may receive more callers than it can handle at once. Having a cloud-based VOIP PBX phone system makes it easier to route calls to agents.

Customers don’t like it when a business wastes their time. Having a call queue can offer a better experience for both your customers and your employees.

A call queue is an add-on feature that fields incoming calls. The queue puts them on hold in order and limits their time on hold. The on-hold message lets them know that there is a delay. The queue routes their call order to the next available agent.

If there is a longer delay, the on-hold message can give callers options as well as additional marketing. Callers can either leave a voice mail or set a time for an agent to return their call. This helps them spend less time on hold.

Call queues also have an algorithm that shows which agent has been on the phone for the least amount of time. The call is then routed to them.

Prospects and customers who listen to relevant content tend to stay on hold longer. On-hold content can help reduce your company’s call abandonment rate. Spoken content, such as service offerings or frequently asked questions, keeps a caller’s interest.

Routing calls in a queue lets customers know that someone will talk to them. Keep callers from waiting for an unacceptably long time with queue time limits. Call queues also help reduce call abandonment.

Call Queue Features

Having a call queue in your small business is more than just routing a call to the next agent. Queues can have additional features such as:

  • Reports for agent login and log-out times
  • Music and/or messages on hold (perfect for more marketing)
  • Call recording
  • Custom queue hold
  • Offering callers a list of option that does not require human intervention
  • “Escape from the Queue,” allowing callers to press a button to go directly to voice mail or other destination
    • Adding a comment about this to on-hold messaging lets callers know it’s available
  • Reports on caller wait and hold times
  • “Drop-out” option, also called “call-back,” where a caller can be added to a queue for a return call when an agent is available

You can also generate many of these reports by agent and by the queue.

The results of having a call queue include:

  • Efficient distribution of calls among your company’s agents
  • Reduction in call abandonment
  • Reduction in wait time for callers
  • Better overall customer experience

Call queueing can also be customized based on wait time, caller value, or other company criteria. Agents can monitor the queue status and other relevant metrics to make effective decisions when picking up a call.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

Another part of a call queue system is the IVR. It’s used to route higher call volumes less expensively.

The IVR is a system that a caller interacts with through voice or telephone key tones. It requires a caller to press a number for a specific group.

Customer support can also be automated with IVR. Callers can access basic help information without waiting to talk to an agent. Should they need live help, callers have the option of pressing a key to get to a live agent.

The queue then routes calls to the right agents for their needs. This saves time for both the agents and the callers because calls are less likely to be transferred to the wrong person.

An IVR can also identify specific callers and ensure that they are routed to the agent they need. VIP callers can be directed to the first available agent or the front of the queue for the shortest wait.

ROI is greater since an IVR is affordable, more efficient, and can help reduce operating costs.

The “Call-Back” Queue—Make An Appointment

Sometimes, a business experiences a surge of calls at once. It could be due to a holiday or sale period, or other unexpected exposure. Callers wait longer, especially if the business doesn’t have enough staff to answer all the calls.

Previously, callers might have to stay on hold for these longer periods to avoid losing their place in line. How long will most people stay on hold? At this point, a caller may wonder if they want to do business with a company, and just hang up.

But giving a caller the option to schedule a callback when an agent is available allows the caller to keep their place in line. They are not tethered to a phone and won’t have to sit and wait to talk to someone.

Training And Assisting Agents

After most new agents answer their few first calls, they improve. Those who don’t may need extra help.

Queue Call Eavesdropping allows supervisors to listen in on an agent while on a customer call. The dashboard allows them to check on each call in progress. Call recording can also help with examining agents’ work and any room for improvements.

With eavesdropping, a supervisor can observe a call from afar without interfering. The information gathered can help supervisors determine how well each agent handles their calls. From there, supervisors can identify any areas that need improvement and recommend the training to get there.

Escalated Calls

Sometimes an agent doesn’t have the answers that a customer needs. They may have a complaint that’s beyond the agent’s ability. At this point, escalating the call gets the caller to someone who can help.

Along with a call queue, a company can also establish a call queue for callers who need to speak to a manager or supervisor. An agent transfers a call when a customer needs a manager or supervisor. The escalation queue will find the appropriate individual to answer the customer’s calls.

An escalation queue makes it simple for an agent to pass along a customer who needs more assistance. Managers and supervisors can offer agents the support they need when they are unable to offer a solution.

Your company can also identify and track trends through escalation. Offering access to supervisors when needed can go a long way in helping with customer satisfaction as well.

Talk To Them On Hold

Many companies default to the standard short-loop music on hold. For a customer on hold for more than a minute, that music can quickly become irritating.

When your company’s call volume increases, create a message that lets them know why there is a wait. This feature is especially useful during the busy holiday season.

Adding the company’s business hours, fax number, locations, website, or other frequently asked questions can help cut down the number of calls a company needs to answer with a live person.

An on-hold message can tell them about the additional services a company offers that customers may not realize are available. Announce promotions such as flash sales and other special events in your on-hold messages.

An example: a busy independent pharmacy can add their hours of operation and any other locations in their on-hold custom messaging. Waiting customers can learn about the pharmacy’s smartphone app for refills, prescription compounding services, flu shots, and strep testing.

Adding marketing to your on-hold messaging can work for nearly any kind of small business.

What Else Can A Call Queue Do For A Small Business?

Call queues can gather up data to examine data points like:

  • How long does it take an employee to answer a call
  • Which employees answer faster or slower
  • How long a caller is put on hold
  • How long a caller stays on hold and when do they hang up
  • If they call back after hanging up
  • Missed and connected calls
  • Reports on incoming and outgoing calls
  • Voicemail and other metrics
  • Average call duration

Are your callers happy with the way they were treated on the phone? With this kind of information, your company can identify room for improvement.

Managers can also use this information for work assignments as well as hiring decisions. The data can also help to identify those employees who need help or additional training.


In the past, call queue systems required hard-wiring into a landline system. This meant expensive equipment and a data center for which many small businesses didn’t have a budget.

VOIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol, eliminates that expense and allows a PBX system to be cloud-hosted. Using your existing company Internet service, VOIP phone service offers cost savings as well as flexibility over traditional landlines.

Need more phones? Add them. Moving employees around—or moving your office? Your system moves with you, and employees just plug in their phones. This function is especially helpful for small businesses, in addition to the features that a call queue offers.

Read more on our blog if your business could benefit from all that VOIP has to offer.

Small Business Benefits

As you can see, most small businesses can benefit from adding a call queue to their phone system.

Whether you’re a:

  • Doctor’s office
  • Medical or dental clinic
  • Legal services provider
  • Financial advisor
  • Pharmacy
  • E-commerce company
  • Transportation company
  • IT company
  • Home services provider (plumber, electrician, etc.)

Adding a call queue to your company’s business will improve the way your employees handle calls, and let your company handle calls faster and more efficiently.

Ready To Add A Call Queue To Your Small Business?

Customer calls are vital to your company. You don’t want to miss a single one. Satisfied and happy customers lead to repeat business and increased sales.

Press8 Telecom offers a wide range of VOIP telecom services for small businesses. We offer no-contract monthly plans that offer a wide range of standard services. Add-on services like call queues to expand your system’s capabilities are also available for an additional and affordable monthly charge.

Find out what Press8 can do for your company. Contact us today at 800-349-VOIP (8647) or use our online contact form.

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