What Are Call Queues and How Do They Work?

September 1, 2021

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Nobody likes to wait, whether they’re in a physical line or a virtual one. It can quickly frustrate and anger customers. Thus, streamlining the contact process by leveraging capabilities like queues is critical. But what are call queues, exactly? And, how do they work?

Yes, Customers Are Still Calling

While you likely have multiple channels available for customers to contact you, phone calls are still the preferred channel. A Salesforce customer service survey revealed that 93 percent of customers use the phone as a vehicle to seek service. Another study on contact center satisfaction determined that 76 percent of customers prefer the phone.

Customers have many options with omnichannel routing that allows contact centers to combine phone, email, chat, and other communication options. However, the phone is not obsolete! Creating a streamlined workflow using call queues helps improve the experience for your customers and agents.

What Are Call Queues?

Call queues represent the virtual waiting room. When people call in, they often won’t be routed to an agent immediately because they are already busy. They hold customer calls in sequence and offer the ability to organize and segment. By segmenting calls based on information provided (i.e., the reason for their call), the right agent will answer the call.

How Do Call Queues Work?

Call queues are configurable within Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) platforms. With such software, you can create specific queues that include:

  • Type of contact
  • Priority level
  • Acceptable waiting time
  • Maximum waiting time (this is an option if you want to allow a caller to de-queue)
  • Bulletin activation (these are pre-recorded messages that can play while a caller waits and can include general information, outages, promotions, and more)
  • Voicemail boxes to allow for callers to leave a message

With multiple options, you can continue to refine your call queues to meet customer expectations effectively and streamline operations. With a CCaaS solution, you’ll also have the ability to collect data on your queues and analyze it to improve performance.

What’s the Cause of Long Call Queues?

Long call queues are common across many industries. Longer wait times can occur for many reasons, including:

  • Seasonal peaks
  • Too few agents
  • Inaccurate or a lack of routing
  • Technology that doesn’t support sophisticated queueing

Not all of these are within your control. You can, however, get more strategic in solving some of them so that your abandonment rate declines. So, focus on areas you can fix, including smarter routing and appropriate staffing.

How Does Segmenting Work in Call Queues?

As noted, you can differentiate your call queues to ensure that callers reach the right agent. This practice is called intelligent routing. First, customers have to provide some information, which you can collect via Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Callers can choose the response that describes the reason for their call. IVR could request information from the customer before the call, like their account or phone number, so that agents have their records pulled up from the start.

Intelligent routing works via a skills-based grouping. For example, if you have multiple products, such as wireless, TV, and internet, then you segment your agents based on their knowledge of the products. Doing so ensures that the customer is more likely to speak with a representative that can help them immediately.

How Does Optimizing Call Queues Benefit Your Organization?

The most obvious benefit is that customers should wait less. Because you have call analytics on your queues, you can determine this to the second. If wait times keep increasing, you can deduce that either you need more staff or agents need more training.

Your agents are likely to be more productive with call queues because they’ll be taking more calls that meet their skillset. That, in turn, should decrease the time of the call and boost first-call resolution statistics.

With the granular functionality that comes with designing your call queue, you can set thresholds on wait times to best serve customers while also choosing to provide critical information via bulletins.

Aligning Agents with Call Volumes

If you determine that a central issue with call queues is too few agents, then you’ll want to pinpoint when you are understaffed. With your CCaaS system, you can track and monitor this statistic.

Many factors impact spikes and ebbs of phone calls. Some of these might be more predictable, such as rolling out new features on your product. You might expect a surge in calls after this. Other times, an external occurrence may trigger more calls.

Over time, you should start to see patterns that outline volume fluctuations. In addition to generalities of volume, you can also identify the primary reasons behind calls. Knowing this helps you staff accurately.

Leveling Up Your Contact Center Capabilities

Now that we looked at what call queues are and how they work, you may have more questions and concerns about your contact center workflows. Not all CCaaS solutions have advanced technology that allows you to build out and optimize your queues. Not having these features could be hindering agent performance and derailing customer experience.

If you’re ready to level up your contact center capabilities, then you’ll want to explore Intermedia Contact Center and how it can work for you.

Kirsten Barta

Kirsten Barta is Sr Marketing Communications Manager at Intermedia

September 1, 2021

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