There’s no doubt that offering a call back service to callers waiting in a queue is an effective way to reduce customer wait times and improve customer experience. From an operational perspective, it can mitigate spikes in call volume, lower abandonment rates, and improve KPIs like Grade of Service.
Choosing the most appropriate type of call-back service needs careful consideration, and in some situations you may even need to turn the call back feature off.
Let’s review the features and merits of the three types of customer-initiated call back options, followed by the agent-initiated call back option. The option(s) you choose to implement in your contact centre will depend on your specific business objectives and operational requirements.
1. Automatic call back
With automatic call back, after 60 seconds (or a pre-determined interval that you set), the customer is presented with the option to stay in the queue or to request a call back.
The strategy here is that the system will notify agents to make the call backs when there are no more callers waiting in the queue.
- Useful for keeping agents productive during quieter periods.
- Aids in meeting KPIs around Grade of Service, as calls are answered more quickly due to less people in the queue.
- Callers know they’ll be called back and don’t have to waste time in a queue.
- Often the reason why there are callers waiting in queues to begin with is because there are too many calls for the number of staff available to process them, so the calls and queues may continue all day, without a lull period occurring for the system to initiate call backs. The customers’ calls may not be returned until later in the day or even the following day which builds in further delays to achieving resolution.
- The customer may be called back at a time which is not suitable for them and they can’t take the call.
2. Intelligent call back
With intelligent call back (also known as virtual hold), the customer is presented with the option to receive a call back and still maintain their position in the queue after they have disconnected.
When their position hits the top of the queue, the intelligent call back system automatically makes the outbound call and connects the agent to the customer.
- Customers appreciate maintaining their position in the queue and not have to physically remain connected to their phone.
- Improves efficiency because customers know they’ll be called back and don’t have to repeatedly keep trying. Additionally, agents don’t have to waste the first 15 seconds of the call apologising for the delay and thanking them for their patience.
- Significantly reduces the abandoned call rate.
- If the intelligent call back solution relies on an algorithm which calls the customer before connecting the agent, the customer will once again be faced with being placed on hold waiting for the agent. Note that Premier Contact Point presents the call to the agent first, and then calls the customer, so this doesn’t happen.
- Maintaining peoples place in a queue doesn’t technically reduce the waiting time for other people in the queue who are still on hold. So whilst this is a good option for improving customer experience for those who opt to be called back, it does nothing to alleviate long queue wait times.
- It could cause problems for deadline driven promotions or operations. Eg: if customers are calling in to place an order or redeem a promotion before a certain time, and encounter a queue, technically speaking they called before the deadline, even though they didn’t get to speak to an agent until the agent called back (after the deadline). It’s not their fault there was a queue.
The Premier Contact Point tool for configuring call flow and adding intelligent call back is simple to use.
3. Website call back
Premier Contact Point offers the ability to add a call back form to your website. When a website visitor completes this form, the form is submitted to the queue and the enquirer is called back by the next available operator.
- Ideal for the customer who definitely wants to speak to someone, but doesn’t want to make the call and potentially encounter a queue.
- Form submission details are screen-popped so that the agent has pertinent details of the enquiry at hand when they call the person back.
- A useful lead generating tool for outbound agents, giving them warm leads to follow up on, rather than the less fruitful activity of cold calling.
- Could possibly attract spam submissions, although this can be combatted with the implementation of hidden fields and negative keyword filters.
4. Scheduled call back
The fourth option is initiated by the agent. There are many reasons why the agent offers to call back at a scheduled time.
- The customer may have waited in the queue but upon being connected has advised they no longer have time to talk and need to speak at a later time that’s more convenient to them.
- The agent may have initiated the call and caught the customer at a bad time, so the agent offers to reschedule to a more suitable time and the customer agrees.
- The issue is complex and the agent needs to undertake further research or consult colleagues, and so reschedules a follow-up call.
- By rescheduling, the agent is demonstrating their respect for the customer’s time and commitment to being helpful at a more suitable time or when further information is available.
- The customer remains in control and negotiates a suitable call back time with the agent.
- If the customer and agent have already discussed the issue and the agent has advised that they will call back, the customer can be confident and assured that they will be called back by the same agent, rather than having to start all over again with a different agent.
- The agent might be busy on another call when it’s time to make the scheduled follow-up call. If so Premier Contact Point will present the call back to the next available agent and display all the pertinent information that the original agent captured when scheduling the call back.
- An agent scheduled call back effectively takes agents out of the queue, which could put pressure on Grade of Service if the organisation is experiencing high call volumes.
Which call back options should you implement?
For most organisations, the intelligent call back, website call back and scheduled call backs are a no brainer. They’re easy to implement and to maintain.
The choice of going for one or more call back options boils down to business objectives and operational requirements, and reality.
If you commonly experience peaks and troughs with your inbound calls, and struggle to keep your agents fully productive for their shift, then automated call back may be the more suitable option.
If you have deadline driven operations or promotions, then the intelligent call back option may not be suitable.
For example, one of our clients in the FMCG sector has a Monday noon deadline for placement of orders from its retail network. Orders must be in by 12 noon, so that the retailers get their stock delivered in time for their busy periods from Thursday-Sunday. Our client was using the intelligent call back feature, but turned it off on Mondays when they realised that many of the retailers were calling at 11:55 am and requesting call back so they could technically say they called before noon, even though they didn’t speak to someone to well after noon, by which time the deadline had passed.
They don’t offer a call back on a Monday now, and instead use the IVR system to encourage their retailers to place their orders online.
In summary, offering one or several call back options is definitely a sound strategy for improving customer experience and managing day to day operations. The success lies in ensuring you have the right technology so it works effortlessly to streamline efficiencies for your teams.