When the phone rings at your business, that’s usually a great indicator that your product or service is in demand and your customers are trying to reach you.
But what happens if there’s no one there to pick up the phone or your employees are all tied up on other calls? According to a recent survey ¹ of 10,000 businesses, 22% of calls go unanswered.
In today’s “on-demand” world, it’s estimated that a whopping 75% of callers ² won’t leave a voicemail. What’s worse is that most of them won’t bother calling you back at a later time, either. Instead, they’re likely to phone a competitor or associate your business with a bad taste in their mouths.
Implementing a call queue is an effective way to ensure that your customers and patients avoid the dreaded voicemail box. In this guide, we’ll answer your most burning questions about call queues and give you some great examples of how to put them into use.
What is a Call Queue?
A call queue (pronounced kyōo) is a type of system that routes incoming calls by placing callers “in line” so that their inquiries can be addressed in a specific order. You’ve probably experienced call queues as a user if you’ve ever reached a call center and been asked to wait for the next available representative.
Today, businesses of all sizes utilize call queues to help them manage call volume and ensure that few, if any calls, get relegated to a dusty voicemail box. In addition to giving callers the option to speak with a representative, many call queue platforms include features designed to elevate the client experience. This includes custom greetings, hold music, and even estimated wait times.
How Do Call Queues Work?
As the name suggests, a call queue places callers in line or “queue” until an agent or other company representative can assist them. From a logistical standpoint, call queues work something like this:
- A client (or prospective client) calls your business.
- If no one is immediately available to help, the call gets answered with an automated greeting. Businesses can customize the greeting to be consistent with branding.
- Depending on the organization’s set up, the greeting may direct callers to dial an extension through a phone tree, receive a call back, or wait in line for assistance.
- To minimize wait time, a call queue could potentially be set up to ring all available extensions or ping the phone that’s gone the longest without answering a call but is still “online.”
- As the caller waits, they may listen to hold music or informational messages created by the company that could potentially answer their questions or addresses any concern.
- When it’s the caller’s turn, they’ll be directed to a live person to begin the conversation.
This process is by no means universal, but it covers a lot of the logistics you’re likely to see as you compare different companies that offer this service. 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
How Do I Set up a Call Queue?
Every system is different, but there are some best practices to keep in mind as you begin thinking about the best way to set up your call queue.
Here is an overview of the steps you’ll complete to set up your first call queue.
- Consider your goals. If you’re reading this guide, it’s likely because you’ve noticed an issue with missed calls at your business. Or, maybe you’re being proactive and looking for ways to improve the customer experience. Think about what you hope to accomplish with a call queue because that will help you structure a call queue that best meets your clients’ needs.
- Identify call queue variables. You’ll be able to determine several settings during the setup process, including identifying team members who will be answering the calls, listing their extension numbers, determining which office locations will be connected to the system and what hours you’d like everything to function.
- Determine routing rules. The next step is choosing how you want your calls routed. Should all the extensions ring at once, and the first available person answers the phone? Do you want the phone call to go to the person who has gone the longest without taking a call?
- Create greetings and hold messages. Script the greeting you’d like each caller to hear when they reach your business. You can also record messages that play during the hold period. These messages can include your hours, address, directions, and services provided. By answering frequently asked questions, you can save potential clients time and resolve their inquiries immediately.
You could also include hold music to give callers something to listen to while they wait. Often, a system will have pre-recorded music available, or you could choose your own.
- Consider other relevant features. Think about other ways that you can improve the caller experience. Some ideas include offering callers the option to reserve their place in line and receive a call from your company when someone is available.
Another possibility is to inform callers of their place in line or give them an estimated wait time. These indicators function similarly to “progress bars.” According to a study shared by BBC, ³ it’s human nature to want to see “operational transparency.”
People can feel frustrated when there’s no end in sight to something, and as they wait in a black void, they don’t know if they’ll have to wait 10 more seconds, 10 more minutes, or 10 more hours. When someone knows their place in line, they’re more likely to stick around as they see progress being made.
The Benefits of Call Queue Management
In theory, call queue management sounds like a great idea. Happy customers, happy life, right?
The reality of call queue management is equally, if not more powerful. Consider the following four benefits:
- Boost your revenue. Given that an estimated 22% of business calls don’t get answered, it’s logical to conclude that some of those missed calls are potential clients or patients who will reach out to a competitor instead. With the simple act of answering more calls, you can increase your revenue.
- Increase customer / client satisfaction. By addressing your inbound calls with an efficient call queue, your customer satisfaction metrics are bound to rise. Not only will you decrease wait time, but you’ll also eliminate annoying games of phone tag.
- Save money. Call queues can help your business save money in a couple of different ways. First, you can avoid having to hire extra personnel to manage overflow calls. By queuing calls in an orderly line, you can work with the team you already have to streamline phone efforts.
Also, think of how much time your team will save by not playing the phone tag game. Yes, it’s worth repeating this from the previous paragraph!
- Get Insights and Analytics. Call queue systems invariably come with data that allows you to see when your call volume is highest, which team members take the most calls, and even which person at your company is most likely to delight callers. By having this information, you can make better business decisions while also improving training and procedures.
Examples of Using Call Queues in Business
There are countless examples of businesses big and small successfully utilizing call queues, and they’re not call centers. Let’s look at two scenarios.
Scenario 1: A local veterinary clinic gets inundated with calls each morning, but after the first couple of hours of the day, call volume becomes more manageable. A call queue allows the two front desk staff to queue up calls in a line and address them in the order that they come in.
This method ensures that no callers fall through the cracks, every pet parent gets their needs addressed, and the clinic doesn’t have to employ an extra team member just to handle a couple of hours of busy phones.
Scenario 2: An optometrist recently opened a second location and is in the process of further expansion. As the office grows, it can be difficult to anticipate staffing needs and balance the varying levels of activity between the two offices. For example, the new office isn’t as busy yet and doesn’t require a full-time receptionist, but it’s also important for those patients to be addressed. A call queue can be set up to ring the other location and place the patient in line during the times when there’s not a receptionist available at the new site.
Common Problems Solved by Call Queues
Several problems that plague businesses ranging from single practitioners to Fortune 500 companies can be solved by implementing call queues.
- Call Abandonment: You already know that a large percentage of business calls go to voicemail, and the majority of callers never leave a message. By adding callers to a queue, you can drastically reduce call abandonment, increasing your business’s revenue potential.
- Understaffing: When the phone is ringing off the hook, your first instinct might be to hire more people. However, you might be able to solve the problem by adding callers to a queue instead of recruiting another employee.
- Variable Call Volumes: Most businesses experience peaks and valleys in call volume. That variation can be challenging to anticipate and just as challenging to manage. By having a call queue, your team can address every callers’ needs without feeling frazzled during busy periods.
- Customer Dissatisfaction: Not being able to get a hold of a business is frustrating. Though being on hold might not be ideal, it can be a better solution than being forced to leave a voicemail and waiting for a call back that might never come.
Call queues can offer a huge boon to your business. As you research your various options, it’s smart to compare a few different choices to evaluate functionality, price, and integration with your existing systems. See how Weave elevates the caller experience using call queues by scheduling a complimentary demo.