What is a Call Center Queue?

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While you may not be sure what a calling queue is, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve been held in one before. Calling queues are a necessary part of call centers and over-the-phone customer service. If you’ve ever been placed on hold before speaking with a live company representative, then you were in a calling queue.

Call center queue management is critically important for providing good service. When call centers don’t optimize their queue, they end up providing poor service that leaves customers unsatisfied.

The Meaning of “Queueing” in Call Centers

The strict definition of a call queue is that it’s where callers are placed on hold, in a queue, while they wait to speak with a live agent. In other words, the call queue is where customers are placed after completing any interactive voice response prompts but before a call center representative has spoken with them. In more casual terms, this would often be referred to as “being on hold.”

Call queues are central to the effectiveness of call centers and customer service. Call centers use a variety of methods, tools, and practices to lower the average time that a caller spends in the call queue. The goal is to have the lowest average call queue time possible, which will result in more effective service and happier customers.

The Importance of Average Time in Call Center Queues

Why is the average time a caller spends in the queue important? There are several reasons why it’s critical to keep this average time as low as possible.

Customer Satisfaction

Nobody likes to be on hold or stuck on the phone. When someone calls for customer service, they want prompt service and quick responses. The longer someone is stuck in a caller queue, the less happy and satisfied they are going to be. Having a poor average call queue time is the easiest way to score very low in customer satisfaction. Customers become frustrated, angry, and annoyed when wait times are high, and they may switch to another company.

Reduced Call Abandonment Rates

The longer callers are stuck waiting in a queue, the more likely they are to simply hang up. Sometimes, they may try again later. Other times, they may take their business to a competing company. In either situation, they are likely unsatisfied and also add to queue times for other callers who contact the company. By lowering the average time spent in the call queue, call centers can reduce call abandonment rates and handle a higher volume of calls.

Good First Call Resolution Rates

Call centers aim to resolve as many customer complaints, issues, and questions as possible on the first call. Not only does this increase customer satisfaction, but it also allows the call center to handle a higher volume of calls and provide superior service. When customer issues are only resolved on the second, third, or another subsequent call, that’s an indication that poor service is being provided. As well, issues can stack up, causing worsening service.

Call Center Queue Management Tips

There are some methods that call centers can use to optimize their service and manage their call queues more effectively.

Utilize Queue Callback

This feature allows callers to step out of the queue and have an agent call them back.

Establish an IVR System

Interactive voice response (IVR) systems are effective for handling low-level concerns, allowing callers to receive help through the automated system. IVR can be used to provide business hours, account balances, and other information without a live agent, which keeps the call queue less crowded.

Configure Call Queue Settings

There are number of features that allow callers to skip call center queues, going directly to voicemail if they choose. This is another effective way to clear up your call queue and reduce average wait times.

Empower Call Center Agents to Handle Their Own Queues

Allow agents to monitor their own queues and take steps to reduce the average call queue time. When live agents have more freedom, they can take more steps to optimize their service.

Use On-Call Agents

One easy way around overstaffing is having on-call agents who can work when call volumes are high, helping handle callers stuck in the call queue and reducing their wait times.

Figure Out Staffing Needs

Determine the appropriate staffing needs for your call center. Staff more live agents for peak periods, as well as for holidays, promotional events, or new product releases.

Implement a Software Solution

Industry software can help you monitor average call queue times and determine the factors that are contributing to them. These tools are effective, particularly for providing the most competitive, superior service.

Optimize your customer service. As the leading provider of outsourced call center solutions, 3C Contact Services teaches its partners the necessary customer service skills to engage and retain customers and clients. Call us today at 1-888-353-2335.