What is Call Queuing and How Does it Work?

Customer service experience is considered one of the most important factors during a buyer’s purchasing journey. According to Gartner, “If customers have effortless customer service interactions, they are 94% more likely to repurchase the product or service and there’s an 88% probability of an increase in spending.” Call Queuing is one popular technique among the various techniques used in customer services and call centers. It is widely used by businesses of all sizes to enhance the overall customer experience. In this post, we will explain the different aspects associated with call queuing. So let’s get started!

What is Call Queuing?

We know that customer support businesses receive calls from clients with different queries and concerns daily. Now, at times, a business or organization receives a large number of calls simultaneously, which results in the formation of a queue. So when a queue is formed, the callers are placed on hold and have to wait until an agent or customer representative becomes available to attend to their call. While callers are placed on hold, they are also informed about their position in the queue.

The objective of using call queuing technology is to ensure that all calls are answered and the likelihood of callers hanging up before their issue gets resolved gets reduced significantly. This technology plays a crucial role in scenarios where call volumes are quite high and the number of live agents is limited.

How Does Call Queuing Work?

Below mentioned is how the Call queuing process typically works:

  1. A caller calls a call center or customer service department and gets connected with the IVR.
  2. The caller is greeted by the automated IVR system which plays a welcome message and provides the caller with various options. The caller chooses an appropriate option such as selecting the department they want to connect with.
  3. Now the IVR places the call on hold and informs the caller about their position in the call queue. The IVR also tells the caller about the estimated wait time. 
  4. Calls are distributed to agents on the basis of a predefined set of rules such as availability, longest idle time, expertise, etc.
  5. When the agent becomes available to take the call, the call is automatically routed to them along with the caller’s information such as name, account details, etc.
  6. Then the agent takes up the call and assists the caller with their concern.
  7. Now once the call is completed, the agent enters some relevant information about the call such as the nature of the query.

The system then considers the agent to be ready to receive the next call.

Features of Call Queuing Systems

Modern-day call queuing systems come with multiple features some of which are explained below:

Queue Position Announcement

As the term indicates, queue position announcement is a feature of call queuing that informs the callers about their current position or number in the queue as they wait to speak with a live customer service agent. This feature is quite helpful for call centers and customer service teams to reduce frustration among callers.

Queue Position Announcement works by playing a recorded message to the callers telling them about their current position in the queue. A simple example would be like this – “Thanks for calling ABC Company. Your call is important to us. You are currently number 4 in the queue.”

Not only it eliminates the uncertainty about the caller’s wait time but also gives them an estimate of how long they may need to wait for their turn to come. This also allows them to make an informed decision about whether they would like to continue in the call queue and wait for their turn to come or hang up and connect later.

Estimated Wait Time

It is a feature of call queuing that informs callers about an approximate time for which they will have to wait before they can talk to a live agent. So when a call is placed in a queue, the system plays a recorded message for the caller which could be like “Thank you for calling ABC Company. Your Call is important to us. Your estimated wait time to speak with a live agent is 3 minutes.”

Again, as with the case of queue position announcement, here the callers get an idea about the time for which they have to wait on the call. Also, this information allows them to decide whether they want to wait or simply hang up and call later.

One thing to note here is that estimated times are just an approximation. Actual wait time for the call may be shorter or longer depending upon the number of calls and various other parameters.

Call Back Option

Another important feature of call queuing is the call-back option. Using this feature in call queuing, callers can request a call back from the business or customer support rather than waiting on hold. So when the caller is on hold i.e. in the call queue, the system plays the message that offers callers to receive a call back instead of waiting. If the caller chooses this option, then the system prompts them to leave their contact details. Now when an agent becomes available to take calls, the system automatically calls on the number provided by the caller and connects the agent with them.

This option is also beneficial for callers and support teams. This is because callers can continue with their work without wasting any of their time on holding while receiving the same level of support from an agent as they would do if they waited in the call queue. For customer support teams, this feature reduces the number of abandoned calls and increases the chances of a positive customer experience.

Music on Hold

This is an interesting feature of call queuing technology. As the name suggests, music on hold plays prerecorded music for the callers who are waiting in a call queue to speak with an agent. Rather than complete silence or continuous repetitive announcements about queue position and time, it is better if callers are provided with some music along with periodic announcements about their queue position and wait time.

It helps in keeping the callers engaged and also reduces their frustration as they wait for their turn to come. For organizations, it could also be an effective marketing tool as they can play promotional music informing callers about their new products and services.

Causes of Long Call Queues

There can be several causes of long call queues in call queuing, some of the common causes are:

Peak Call Seasons

One of the most common reasons for long call queues is the higher number of incoming calls during some specific time. This could be due to various reasons including new product launches, the festive season, marketing campaigns, etc.

Lack of Trained Staff

A limited number of customer service agents to handle incoming calls can certainly result in long call queues. Inadequate planning while hiring staff, financial constraints, and unexpected rise in call volume are some of the reasons behind this.

Poor Call Management skills

Efficient call routing and management play a crucial role in the process of call management. Consider a scenario where calls are not being routed to appropriate agents and keep tossing between one agent to another or one department to another, then this will not only create a mess but will result in long call queues.

Long Call Handling Time

Complex issues can consume more time to get resolved due to which callers with simple queries might have to wait for a long. This can be reduced by routing certain types of queries that are complex in nature to specific agents.

Outdated software

Various technical issues such as outdated software, network errors, system failures, etc., can cause delays in call handling thus resulting in longer call queues.

How do you Improve Call Queuing Management?

Some of the common methods to improve call queuing management are:

Examine your Call Data

The very first step to improving call queuing management is to monitor and inspect call data on a regular basis. Check different parameters associated with customer calls such as call volume, the duration of the calls, and call abandonment rate, etc. This shall help you in finding the causes of long call queues.

Use Latest Technology

Technology plays a crucial role in the success of any business these days. Make sure your call center software offer features that are aligned with the needs of your business as well as your customers. The availability of advanced features such as intelligent call routing and multi-level IVR is a must for improving the overall customer experience.

Effective Staffing

While the number of agents you hire for your call center or customer support business is important to effectively manage call queues, it is equally important to schedule their work and provide sufficient training to meet the dynamic call volumes.

Optimize Call Routing

It is crucial that the call routing flow must be defined effectively. Routing calls to the most proficient agent on the basis of the query of the caller can help in reducing call queue wait time as well as the overall call duration.

Improve IVR Scripts

Make sure your IVR scripts are informative and pleasant for the callers. IVR recordings if not clear or complex can result in frustration among the callers and negatively impact the call queue.

It is clear that call queuing is an effective technique to provide better customer service, reduce wait times and improve the overall efficiency of the call center.

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