Cut Wait Times With These 6 Call Center Queuing Tactics

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Sitting on the phone listening to the same hold music over and over is very few people’s idea of a good time. Accordingly, if you make your busy customers wait through long hold times because of your own company’s ineffective call center queueing, don’t be surprised if you end up with a lot of displeased customers—not to mention stressed out employees. 

To avoid these issues, a good call center needs to be strategic about queueing so it can handle high call volumes during peak hours. Here are six tips on how to do it:

1. Increase Self-Service Options

The more tasks your customers can solve on their own, the better. If they can avoid reaching the call center altogether, it helps keep your representatives free for calls that require more attention. 

Self-service IVRs are great for this. When set up properly, they can let callers get the information they need and accomplish the tasks they need to accomplish, without ever having to speak to an agent. 

Chances are, you’ve interacted with an IVR before. For instance, if you’ve ever called into your bank to check your balance, made an automated payment by typing your card details into your phone’s number pad, or pressed two to proceed with a call in Spanish, that’s an IVR.

One low-tech way to offer self-service using an IVR is by creating FAQs and support content on your website. Once the content is published online, you can direct callers to it via your phone system greeting, saying something like, “Thank you for calling [company name], we’re grateful for your business. Press 1 to speak to a representative. You can also find helpful answers to common questions at [company website].”

2. Implement Intelligent Call Routing

One of the main reasons customers get stuck in long call queues is that they’re not sorted properly once they enter the queue. If everyone has to get to an intermediary representative before they can be routed to the person they actually need, that’s a recipe for frustration.

Intelligent call routing helps you avoid this by using algorithms to analyze caller data and IVR selections to route calls to the best agent or department based on what it gathers. 

For instance, if someone calls into your customer service line, selects a specific language, and then says they’re having an issue with one particular component of your service, intelligent call routing would ideally route them to an agent who speaks that language and specializes in customer support for that particular part of the service. 

This cuts down on wait times dramatically, increases First Call Resolution (FCR) rates, and makes for a better customer experience overall. Meanwhile, all it requires to implement is an IVR system that is capable of this kind of intelligent routing and a bit of time to configure it. 

3. Prioritize High-Value Customers

It’s obvious that you don’t want any of your customers to have a bad experience when they call in, but it’s especially important for your high-value customers to have a good experience. This means they shouldn’t be left waiting in a long call center queue.

Use your CRM system and customer segmentation tools to identify high-value customers based on things like their purchase history, account type, and their loyalty to your business, then bump them to the top of the queue. Better yet, if you can give them their own number to dial into or a special extension to use, it behooves you to do so.

Prioritizing your high-value customers not only enhances your retention of them, but it also gives your agents a chance to provide a more personalized service with familiar customers. 

If you’re using your CRM as part of your routing setup—and we recommend that you do—make sure your agents are getting a detailed dossier on any high-value clients and include their previous interactions with the company. 

Finally keep in mind that focusing on high-value customers too much can be a slippery slope. If you pull too much of your team’s attention away from the rest of your customer base, their call queueing experience can suffer. Try to maintain a balance where your high-value customers get first priority while the rest of your customers still have a good customer experience.

4. Offer Multi-Channel Support

Customers have different preferences when it comes to getting in touch with you, so make sure they aren’t required to call you if they need service. Many issues and tasks don’t actually require getting on a call—like making payments, checking balances, scheduling appointments, finding business hours, learning about new offers, and getting baseline customer service.

Many of today’s best Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platforms and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) providers allow customers to get in touch with you via phone, live chat, email, social media, and SMS without requiring your agents to monitor a whole bunch of different apps or browser windows.

This immediately cuts down on your call queueing, since a large portion of people who would otherwise be calling in are reaching out via other methods. Plus, when done right, it can also improve customer satisfaction, since people can reach out both how they prefer and when they prefer. 

5. Polish Your Scripts and Pathways

While some level of call center queuing is almost unavoidable, a lot of call centers set up scripts and pathways that make queues far worse. Think of it like vehicle traffic—while even the best highways can get congested from time to time, it’s the poorly designed roads that are much more likely to experience traffic jams.

Do your best to create and maintain useful, up-to-date IVR scripts and menu options that customers can quickly understand and act upon. Collect data on how customers are interacting with your IVR to figure out what kinds of things they’re asking about most often. If you can identify the reasons behind your customers’ most common frustrations, you can probably make some changes that will dramatically reduce your average call center queue for those issues. 

While you’re at it, you can also use this information to review the pathways people take through your menus. If you find that many users are quitting at a particular spot that must be confusing, or if there are steps that prove to be unnecessary, you may need to do some rerouting.

With an optimized flow, your system will run much more smoothly and customers will be less likely to be annoyed by the time they reach a representative.

6. Implement Real-Time Monitoring

Even the very best call center queueing setup isn’t going to function perfectly all the time. That’s why it’s important to implement real-time monitoring, so you can get a sense of what’s happening in your queue at any given time.

Many organizations make the mistake of setting up a queueing system they think is robust and then never looking at it again. Unfortunately, that’s a bad strategy, as there’s no way to predict when you’re going to get a sudden spike of calls. If you don’t have a ton of agents, that means your company can have a sudden cascade of wait times. 

Use real-time monitoring software to keep a constant eye on how your queue is running, and step in as needed to deal with issues and bottlenecks. Managing your call center proactively like this will improve the experiences of your agents and your customers, and it will give you invaluable data for further improvements to your queue.

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