You might be surprised to hear that customers still call businesses.
Despite social media, email, and live chat via the Internet, most people still interact with companies over the phone. In fact, 42% of the population reaches out to a business via the telephone at least once a week.¹ And, 65% of people say that they prefer contacting companies by calling them on the phone. Oh, and that 65% statistic includes millennials.
Giving your customers and prospects a positive phone experience is essential. But even the best-trained employees and customer service agents will flounder if you don’t have good call queue software.
In this guide, we’ll share the best call queue software for different types of businesses and share some insights about what features you should be looking for.
What are Call Queues?
The word “queue” generates from the Latin word “cauda,” meaning tail. In modern usage, it is often referred to as a line of people waiting their turn for something. In the United States, it’s not typical in everyday language, though people in the UK will use “queue” as both a noun and a verb.
When talking about call queues, the term means inbound callers being distributed to phone representatives in a particular order. It could be based on the order in which the call came in, the type of inquiry that needs to be handled, or another factor determined by the company that sets up the call queue system.
Though typically associated with call centers, call queues are now an option for businesses of all sizes, from a solo practitioner to a global corporation with thousands of employees.
How to Manage Call Queues
A well-managed call queue system can delight your customers while helping to prevent scathing social media messages and hurtful negative reviews. By having a phone system that makes communicating with your company seamless, you can help your customers avoid the frustration that results from waiting on hold forever or being sent to voicemail.
Call queues can be efficient and yield positive customer outcomes if you follow these five recommended best practices:
1. Include helpful messages and timely updates in your IVR.
Short for Interactive Voice Response, IVR messages are what customers hear when the phone is answered or while they’re on hold. These messages can set expectations for hold times and give helpful information that can potentially answer a client’s question without needing to speak to anyone directly.
For example, if your office is going to be closed during a remodel, that message can be the first thing customers hear, along with an answer on when regular business hours will resume.
2. Include plenty of self-service options.
You can limit hold times by redirecting customers with simple inquiries to help themselves. This reserves phone time for customers who genuinely need to interact with a human. Your self-serve clients will be happy to promptly get the information they need, and clients with more complicated questions will be happy that their hold time is minimized.
For example, you can direct callers to a phone tree where they can hear information regarding their inquiry or pay a bill.
3. Cross-train team members so they can answer a wider variety of questions.
Whenever possible, ensure that your staff is cross-trained to answer the broadest range of inquiries. This allows a customer’s question to be addressed by more people, directing them to a live person sooner than if they had to wait for someone with specialized knowledge.
4. Specify maximum caller hold times.
No one wants to exist in a perpetual state of being on hold. If your office is bombarded with calls, hold times can extend to several minutes, or more. An easy solution is to set up your call queue software with a maximum hold time. If a caller reaches this threshold, they can be directed to voicemail or an alternate phone number.
5. Share metrics with team members.
To encourage improvement, provide visibility into call queue metrics. Show your team various measurements that show call volume, wait times, conversation lengths, and customer satisfaction ratings. These insights can help you and your team identify opportunities for improvement, and you can also celebrate what’s working well.
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
What Call Queue Software is Most Popular
The most popular call queue software options vary by industry. What’s best for one type of business isn’t necessarily going to be appropriate for another. We’ve identified three different business models that have varying call queue software needs and our top choice for each.
Weave – Best for Small Businesses
Weave specializes in tools that help with small business communications. The software comes with all the features you need without charging you for the fluff you don’t. Weave’s call queue software was designed specifically for industries like health care, home services, and professional services.
Some of Weave’s must-have features include call queue routing options to adjust to varying call volumes, customized greetings and hold music, and the ever-important position announcement. Your callers will always know exactly where they are in line.
Five9 – Best for Call Centers
Like Weave, Five9 offers a communication platform that includes a wide range of features, not just call queue software. One of the most notable differences relates to the size and types of businesses that Five9 serves. Instead of focusing on the needs of smaller firms, Five9 is best suited for larger enterprises and businesses whose primary service is that of a call center.
The system includes popular features like call routing, wait time estimates, and queue positions. It also has a robust menu of self-service options and the option for automated outbound calling. The outbound calling option is particularly useful for call centers because it allows agents to seamlessly move between tasks and calls without having to switch between systems.
CloudTalk – Best for Distributed Teams
If you have employees from all over the country or the world taking calls, you need a centralized system that allows for seamless communication. This is where CloudTalk comes in. This call queue software system boasts crystal clear calls from anywhere in the world.
It also integrates with popular CRMs like Salesforce and Zendesk, so caller data and help records can be tracked seamlessly. Another popular feature is that the system allows you to assign international numbers to give callers the impression that you have a local presence.
Call Center Software Features You Need
Though every business is different, there are some features that should come standard with any call center software on your consideration list:
- Customizable greetings: A friendly greeting can help set the stage for a positive phone experience. You can also use the greeting to provide customers with timely updates or answer frequently asked questions.
- Hold music: Providing soothing or upbeat hold music can help callers pass the time while they’re waiting to speak with someone. Make sure that the hold music is crystal clear (not grainy or staticky). You can also give callers the option to silence hold music if they prefer to wait without any noise.
- Escape options: If a customer can’t wait on hold, give them the chance to end the call and have a customer service agent return the call when someone is available. This allows the caller to reserve a place in line without being on hold indefinitely.
- Position announcements: Telling a caller their position in line can help them decide whether it’s worth their time to wait on hold. These progress updates can also help a caller maintain patience as they see that they’re inching closer to the top spot in the queue.
- Maximum hold times: Don’t keep callers on hold indefinitely. Make sure your call queue software comes with an option to set a maximum hold time. The caller can be given the option to go to voicemail or reach another extension.
- Call routing options: You’ll likely want to set various rules for routing calls. It could be based on agent idle time, agent specialty, or another factor.
- Ability to integrate with other business systems: Your call queue software should not exist in a vacuum. To be useful, it’s important that it integrates with other business systems. For example, you could have a system that integrates with your client database or an appointment calendar.
- Cloud-based calling: With more remote employees and the rise of VoIP systems, it can be helpful (and economically efficient) to have a system that allows you to make and receive calls over the Internet.
How to Choose Call Queue Software that Suits Your Office
It can be overwhelming to try to evaluate all of the call queue software options available. You can narrow down the options by choosing a software designed for your business size and category with the features you need at a budget-friendly price.
It’s also recommended to compare at least a couple of options side-by-side to get a clear picture of which one is best suited for your needs. Watch a free demo of Weave’s call queue software to help you in your research process.