Americans spend roughly 37 billion hours each year waiting in line — whether in traffic, at a store checkout, or on hold in a customer service call queue. While we spend a lot of time waiting, we’re just as likely to abandon our spot in line. So, if your business is fielding inbound customer calls with long wait times, evaluating your call queuing practices for opportunities to improve is a good idea.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the problems with long wait times and ways to improve call management.
What is Call Queuing?
Call queuing is using technology to place inbound callers into virtual queues. Contact centers, helpdesks, or any business with a high volume of callers can use call queuing to minimize wait times and direct calls to the appropriate people, improving time-to-resolution and the overall customer experience.
Why Long Wait Times Are Bad for Business
Without an effective call queuing platform in place, long wait times could significantly impact your enterprise call center in the following ways:
- Abandonment: Abandonment occurs when callers hang up before an agent reaches them or while an agent is trying to help them.
- Lost Sales: Sometimes, customers abandon calls during sales, causing those sales and associated revenue to be lost.
- Lost Revenue: In addition to revenue from lost sales, long wait times could discourage customers from paying bills or upgrading services.
- Reputation Damage: Long wait times can frustrate callers and lead to poor opinions of your company.
- Lost Opportunity: Abandoned calls also can be lost opportunities to nurture the business’s relationship with callers.
Factors That Contribute to Long Wait Times
- Peak Call Times: Customers can expect to wait longer during times with the highest call volumes
- Staff Availability: During peak call times or at any time, insufficient staffing can contribute to longer wait times.
- Staff Training: Lack of employee training in using contact center tools or handling customer inquiries can increase hold times.
- Emergencies: Sometimes, a long wait time is caused by a staff emergency or a system outage.
- Poor Queuing Software: A call queuing platform that doesn’t suit your needs or isn’t scalable could buckle under the pressure of high call volume.
- Lack of Queuing Strategy: Throwing technology at the long wait time problem without proper training/onboarding and ongoing measurement and analysis can impact the solution’s effectiveness.
- Dead Air: Lack of on-hold messaging or music makes wait time feel much longer, which can lead to call abandonment.
How to Improve Call Center Queue Management
Understanding how various factors affect your hold times is the first step toward improving your callers’ experiences. Next, consider these additional steps to improving your call center queue functionality and effectiveness:
- Workforce Management Strategies: Creating a workforce management strategy for your call center will help you analyze the demand and ensure you have adequate people, processes and platforms to manage call queues.
- IVR: You can more effectively route callers by using Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Be sure to provide a way for callers to opt out of the IVR queue and reach a live attendant.
- Call-back Queues: An automated call-back feature can enable your callers to hold their place in line without waiting on the phone.
- Music on Hold: One way to engage callers and eliminate dead air is to supply music on hold (MOH). Ensure your MOH platform is updated regularly, carries all the appropriate licenses, and has streaming capability for seamless implementation and updates.
- Messages on Hold: Recorded messages on hold provide branding opportunities for a captive audience. Keep your message up to date and ensure the loop on the message isn’t too short. Easily improve your recorded messages by using professional voice recordings.
- Feedback Requests: Ask for your callers’ opinions – it’s the only way to know if your call center queue provides a good customer experience.
The Bottom Line on Being on the Line
Developing a call center queuing strategy is vital if phone communication is part of your customer experience. Misdirected calls, excessive wait times, annoying messages on hold — any missteps could jeopardize relationships with valued customers. Easily implemented processes and tools mentioned above can significantly improve your customer experience with resounding results.