What happens when you have an issue as a consumer? You like to check the company’s website and FAQs page for a quick resolution. Perhaps their FAQs page is just a laundry list of technical codes, and you cannot find the solution to your issue. Their website has no chat function, or they are offline, or worse still they appear online but nobody responds to your request for help. You then have to call up and work through a long interactive voice response menu, before staying on hold for 10 or 20 or 30 minutes (sometimes over an hour) while listening to elevator music. I am sure you do not enjoy this experience.
The truth is, neither do your customers.
Call centre waiting times seem to be getting longer and longer – averaging between eight minutes to over an hour – and Australian consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated.
Seven ways to improve call queue management
There are several things beyond the obvious ‘hire more staff’ solution for reducing call wait times. When call centres want to minimise wait times, they can start by improving call queue management, which manages queues to reduce average wait time across the call centre.
1. Create workflows for predictable requests
Self-service workflows are one method of call queue management that can personalise customer interactions at scale and deliver improved customer experience (CX), whilst reducing the number of avoidable calls. When developing self-service workflows, you should begin by analysing frequent queries from customers and create workflows that guide them effortlessly through to the resolution of their call.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) workflows are configured to play pre-recorded questions and messages which guides callers to provide responses via their telephone keypad or simply by speaking. IVR’s can also integrate with back office applications like CRMs to easily provide callers with the information they are looking for.
Visual IVR leverages the unique capabilities of smartphones without the caller being required to download an app from an app store. Visual IVR leverages the standard functionality of smartphones by combining voice, SMS and browser applications to create personalised self-service workflows, which avoids the need to connect the caller to an agent.
2. Last agent routing
Also known as agent affinity, last agent routing automatically routes callers to the agent that last handled their call. Agents receive a screenpop showing them the customer’s name and other vital information like their entire contact history with the organisation, previous actions taken and call outcomes. Agent affinity delights customers by significantly reducing their effort to be connected with the person best placed to handle their query. It also improves the performance of call centres by reducing average handling times, which in turn reduces average queue wait times.
3. Reduce call centre waiting times by offering chat
Call centres are typically busy environments, so call queue management is essential to keep wait times minimal. Modern consumers respond well to web chat and have come to expect it. A chat session can take half the time of a call, an agent can manage it from anywhere, and multiple chats can occur simultaneously.
Some call centre managers now opt for chatbot technology as a way to improve digital queue management. Chatbots, when leveraged for web chat, can provide instant responses and round-the-clock service. Even when real-life agents are offline, customers will seldom feel like they are waiting for extended periods.
4. Implement overflow queueing to reduce call centre wait times
Your company may have more than one call centre across a region. Overflow queuing redirects customers contacting the busy call centre to an available agent from another call centre. Thus, there would not be any significant increase in average wait time for callers if one call centre does not have enough agents on hand.
Further to redirecting callers, proactive communication and setting expectations are crucial to reducing frustration and anger. Explain that you have a high level of activity at present and give customers the option to wait or request a callback. The callback option allows callers to enter their contact information, retain their place in the queue and receive a call from an agent when they reach the first position.
5. Create a business continuity plan
Call centres need a business continuity plan in case of disaster or disruption – including power fluctuations, facility issues, or security-related incidents. Create a business continuity plan that you can implement within minutes during emergencies. You should develop your plan with input from call centre team leaders and communications executives. Provide all customer-facing staff with detailed training on implementing the plan, with clear directions on who does what and when.
Your call centre technology solution should facilitate access from any location and from any device with internet connection and a web browser and should include guidelines for call queue management. You might record an event-related message to play for callers upon connection, update your website and social media, or provide customers with alternative options, like requesting a callback.
6. Write FAQs in plain English
A FAQs page is an excellent way to minimise the amount of traffic to your call centre. To truly minimise traffic, you need all public documentation – like FAQs, technical manuals, forms, conditions, instructions – in clear, unambiguous English (and other languages).
It is wise to assume that the person reading your FAQ page does not have a technical background. Write your page in plain English to help customers understand the terminology and prevent confusion about the product. If the customer understands what they are talking about in plain terms, it makes it easier for them to relay the problem to an agent should they need to get on a call.
7. Match peaks and troughs to reduce call centre wait times
Rostering teams to meet peaks and troughs in call centre traffic can involve many hours of analysis and juggling rosters. Call centres also need to manage hours of operation so that call queues do not become overloaded at peak hours or empty during off-peak hours. You can review historical data to pinpoint trends in peak times; call traffic might increase during holiday periods or the end of the financial year, it all depends on your industry.
A workforce optimisation solution can enhance call queue management by balancing contact volumes, staff availability, rosters, performance KPIs and budgets whilst consistently delivering optimal CX. Overall, it saves a lot of time and money.
How Premier Contact Point can enhance call queue management
Our solution can enhance call queue management to reduce wait times across your call centre. We deliver affordable, innovative features, such as visual IVR, CRM integration, overflow queues, self-service options and omnichannel queueing.
You can get in touch with us if you would like to book a demo of these features and see how we can help you reduce wait times across your call centre.