Did you know that 60% of people ¹ report that being on hold for too long is the number reason they have a terrible experience with a company’s customer service department?
Another top complaint, according to a recent report ² on communication trends, is having the same conversation with multiple customer service representatives. If you’ve ever had to have a complaint “escalated” or you’ve had a difficult question that couldn’t be answered right away, you’ve probably experienced this.
Keeping customers on hold for extended periods and requiring them to repeat their inquiries can bog down your employees, frustrate your customers, and result in a reduction in your call capacity.
In this guide, we’ll share 15 best practices for call queue management that can allow you to capture more incoming calls.
What is Call Queue Management?
If you’re not already familiar, a call queue is akin to a line of callers waiting to speak to someone in your organization. As calls come in, call queue software can route them based on a variety of rules that you specify.
Call management involves determining how those calls are routed. When done well, call queue management results in an improved, more efficient call flow and a reduction in wait times. In turn, this leads to a better customer experience.
The ability to reduce caller waiting is imperative in both customer satisfaction and retention. Studies have shown that there’s a limit to how long people are willing to wait to speak to someone. The majority (two-thirds to be exact) ³ say that their maximum threshold is two minutes. Even more dramatic is that 13% of people say that they’re not willing to wait on hold at all.
What is a Call Queue in Teams?
There are numerous tools and systems that allow you to create call queues, including Microsoft Teams and Weave. In Microsoft’s platform, you can create various teams based on departments and assign agents to each group. Within each team, you’ll also need to add channels and connect them to an authorized resource account.
Keep in mind that to use a call queue for Microsoft Teams, you’ll have to acquire (or already have) a Microsoft 365 phone system virtual user license. 4 Weave on the other hand offers a simple form to help you set up call queues for your office while serving as a multi-function system for small businesses. We often receive over 200 calls per day for our single office. With Weave’s call queues, we’ve made handling call volume much more manageable for our staff and decreased our total missed calls by 20%. - Maria M, Practice Manager, Quail Animal Hospital
62% of phone calls to small businesses don’t get answered resulting in missed business opportunities
We often receive over 200 calls per day for our single office. With Weave’s call queues, we’ve made handling call volume much more manageable for our staff and decreased our total missed calls by 20%. - Maria M, Practice Manager, Quail Animal HospitalSchedule Demo
15 Call Queue Management Best Practices
Companies have spent a lot of time and money figuring out how to make their inbound call systems more efficient while improving customer usefulness and satisfaction.
The following 15 call queue management best practices have become nearly universal:
1. Create scheduling rules: When a call comes in, the first thing your system should do is specify an action or path based on the day of the week or time of day.
For example, you might have different greetings or routing rules for weekdays versus weekends, evenings versus business hours, and holidays versus traditional business days. By matching a greeting or agent availability with the appropriate time of day, you can set the stage for a positive customer experience.
2. Provide informative greetings: It’s common knowledge that you should have a friendly greeting that identifies the name of your business, but you can also further customize your greeting.
For example, you could include your business hours, address, or other information that people tend to ask for when they call. Instead of making them wait on hold to speak to someone, you can address FAQs without requiring your employees’ time.
3. Include language preferences: In today’s multicultural and multilingual society, it might not be fair to assume that all of your callers speak the same language.
Instead of encountering a frustrating language barrier, you can give callers the option to specify their preferred language and be connected to an agent where conversation can flow easily.
4. Collect data automatically: If applicable, consider call queue software that allows callers to input information. For example, being able to input an account number can save valuable time because this task can be executed during hold, and the agent will see the account number on their screen without having to go through the process of asking for and transcribing it.
5. Implement routing options: You can go beyond the basics of routing calls to any available agent. In some (or many) situations, you might want to specify who receives calls.
For instance, you could specify rules that route different types of inquiries to separate departments. Or, you could institute a skills-based system that routes more advanced calls to senior employees. If your business spans the world, you could also have calls go to time zones.
Another option is to route calls based on idle time. In this scenario, you could send a call to the agent or employee who has been without a phone call for the longest amount of time. As you can see, there are several ways to make rules that make your call queue more efficient!
6. Set up ring groups: As the name implies, a ring group will ring several phones at once. This situation can be ideal if it doesn’t matter who picks up the phone, but you want the call answered as quickly as possible. Here, the first person who reaches the phone will take the call.
7. Take advantage of IVR: An abbreviation for Interactive Voice Response, IVR gives your callers the opportunity to interact with your phone system. The overall idea is that callers are presented with options to get answers to their questions, input data, or select specific types of help.
8. Include self-service options: As systems get more advanced, automation can handle many basic functions, freeing up employees to handle more complex or personal inquiries. Self-service options can include paying bills, getting information, and more.
9. Don’t forget the hold music: Placing callers on hold and subjecting them to silence can make it feel like even more time is passing. It can also make callers feel like they’ve been abandoned.
By having hold music that is either upbeat or relaxing, callers can have a pleasant distraction to keep their minds occupied while they wait. Make sure that your hold music sounds crisp and clear. There’s nothing worse than warbly music or tunes filled with static.
Perhaps just as important as having hold music is giving callers the option to listen in silence. Some people might prefer to be placed on a silent hold if they are trying to accomplish a task while on hold, and they don’t want any noise interruptions until an agent is able to come to the phone.
10. Offer automated callbacks: When a caller finds out that there’s an extended hold period, they might prefer to receive a call back when someone is free. Make sure you inform them that selecting this option does not cause them to lose their place in line.
11. Update callers on their queue position: Being on hold with no end in sight can be incredibly frustrating. If possible, inform callers of where they are in the queue. If they’ve been on hold for a couple of minutes and are losing patience, you can potentially save the call by being able to have the system inform them that they are next in line.
12. Specify maximum hold times: No matter how carefully you plan your employees’ schedule to ensure there is always someone available to answer calls, the unexpected can happen. If you’re inundated with calls, and you don’t have enough people to answer inquiries in a timely manner, a maximum hold time can direct callers to a voicemail box or potentially another office location.
Though it’s not ideal to keep callers on hold for a long time, it’s better than keeping them on hold indefinitely.
13. Allow for remote access: It can be incredibly helpful for small businesses to be able to have employees answer inbound calls from locations outside the office. This can be especially true if your on-site team is bombarded with calls and needs backup. With today’s VoIP systems, this functionality is usually possible.
14. Determine a “max in queue”: To avoid unreasonably long hold times, you can limit the number of callers waiting in your call queue at any given time.
When your maximum number of people waiting is reached, specify a method to hand call overflow. It could include redirecting to voicemail so that the caller can leave a message and receive a callback when an employee is available.
15. Learn from analytics: Call queue management systems include detailed reports and analytics to give you insights into hold times, call length, agent activity, and more. Don’t ignore this information. Instead, use it to help improve the customer service experience by optimizing employee schedules, adjusting routing rules, and identifying opportunities for training.
Learn More about Call Queue Management
Do you currently have a call queue management system that is in dire need of an upgrade? Or, are you evaluating different call queue software to determine which is best suited for your business’s needs?
Weave includes several communication solutions for small businesses, including Weave Call Queues. We invite you to schedule a demo where you can see Weave in action and get all of your questions answered.