Queue management plays a central role in contact centre operations. Keeping queues as short as possible is the objective, with many key performance indicators (KPIs) based around this goal.

When faced with long queue times, customers have to decide between: a.) hanging up and trying again later (which leads to high abandon rates and poor customer perception) or b.) waiting (which leads to higher average handling times and frustrated customers). In each situation, poor queue management adds pressure to the agent, which has a knock-on effect creating a negative cycle of behaviour - the poor customer experience and low employee satisfaction reinforce each other in a downward spiral.

Figure one: The cycle of negative behaviour caused by poor queue management.

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So what’s the solution? We’ve seen many organisations look to staffing levels to reduce queue times, but if the contact centre has unpredictable spikes in call volumes (as many do), this can be impossible to get right. Take telecommunications and internet service provider Zen Internet for example; they struggled with unpredictable spikes in call volumes, couldn’t manage the problem in-house, and eventually sought help. They found introducing Geomant’s Buzzeasy In-Queue Callback technology to be the most effective solution. (Read the full case study).

Buzzeasy In-Queue Callback is now integral to Zen Internet’s queue management strategy. The solution informs customers of the expected wait time and gives them the option to be called back. Either straight away when the agent becomes available, or at a pre-scheduled time slot that’s mutually convenient. Our data shows that up to 50% of callers will accept a callback when offered one, and on average, it can reduce abandon rates by 30%. The introduction of callback technology improves overall efficiency; it smooths spikes in call volumes, eliminates the need for peak-time staffing and reduces 0800 call costs (when used) – it’s a win-win for both business and customer.

Queue management in a digital era.

Queue management in a digital era.

The benefits of callback technology can be extended to digital interactions too. This is something we see more as digital channel management becomes a bigger part of daily operations. Research by Microsoft shows that 66% of consumers use three or more communications channels to contact a brand’s customer service. Incorporating web callback into a digital channel strategy is key to managing this modern-day contact centre dynamic.

Solutions like Buzzeasy offer ‘call-me’ buttons that can be added to organisations’ web channels, mobile apps, and social pages, enabling visitors to request a personal call-back with one click. Callbacks can be offered at specific stages of the customer journey and can be routed to the most appropriate team. Calls are delivered to the contact centre with key customer information, meaning agents always know who they’re talking to and why – this helps considerably to shorten handle times and boost first-time resolution rates.

Organisations can also shorten queues by offering callers the option to transition from IVR to a digital interaction, instead of waiting in a queue - we refer to this as ‘channel-hopping’.

Combining technology

Combining technology

Some of the most successful queue management strategies use a combination of tactics and tools – one of our most recommended duos is chatbots with callback. While we recognise the many benefits chatbots bring to an organisation, (mainly reducing queue volumes by answering repetitive questions) we feel that human intervention will often be necessary for the more complex queries. By offering a clear escalation path to live agent organisations are able to tick all the boxes and ensure the customer is satisfied with the service. A study by Forrester backs up our thoughts on this reporting that 63% of consumers are satisfied getting service from a chatbot, as long as they have the option to move the conversation to a human if needed.

If you want to experience what it's like to transition from a bot to live agent click on the orange chat icon and ask our assistant bot, Gemma to speak to an agent. Or, if you want to see what it's like to be offered a callback try it out for yourself over at our interactive demo portal. 

We are proud to have worked with ContactBabel to produce the queue management and callback section of the UK Contact Centre Decision-Makers Guide.-1

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