Most often, people think of call queues and call centers as something that does a very specific thing. Frequently, this very specific thing is “handle a lot of incoming calls and direct them to a lot of agents”. While many call centers fall into that definition, a cloud based PBX can offer other solutions for call queues that you might not have considered.
Essentially, a call queue operates like an advanced hunt group, taking an inbound call and keeping the call on-hold until one of the available agents listed is ready to take the call. Good ones do a great job of keeping the caller interested until an agent is ready.
Enabling Your Receptionist
The simple definition above can also apply to other situations. Take, for example, a receptionist at a busy law firm. This person may handle multiple calls at any time, and in the past, the standard line “Thank you for calling, can you hold please?” might happen multiple times in a row before that receptionist can go back and even begin to engage the caller.
Imagine, instead, that a call queue handles those inbound calls for the receptionist, then feeds them to that employee when he or she is ready. It is possible for a call queue in most hosted environments to accommodate even small call centers with a single agent. The call queue can place those inbound calls in order, line them up, and deliver them one at a time. While on hold, most PBX systems will let you customize the message on hold to deliver marketing messages to the captive audience, answer frequently asked questions, and provide comfort messaging in cases where there is a very long hold.
Employed correctly, on hold and comfort messaging can increase the amount of time the caller will wait before being greeted and assisted. This is called Abandonment Rate, and is the number of calls that disconnected from the caller’s end before answered divided by the number of calls that had entered the queue.
Call queues do one other really important thing - they gather data. There are calls that abandon in the original scenario, where a person greets then immediately places the call on hold, but they are more difficult to track. With a call queue, you can see who called, how long they held, if they abandoned, if they called back after abandoning, or if you have lost an opportunity altogether.
Savvy managers and directors will use the data from a call center to decide how to make hiring and scheduling decisions. Long term calling trends can be mapped and analysed, and this can inform actionable plans.
Using Data to Improve Performance
You can plug in a call center in many places where you use a hunt group, and benefit from the reporting engine integral to call queueing. If you have a sales team, for instance, a simultaneous ring hunt group can direct calls to them and let the salesperson who is most hungry pick up the call. With a call queue, nothing changes for the sales team, but the sales manager can utilize the data gathered by the queue to gauge engagement by the staff, as well as information about the callers themselves.
This data is extremely useful to coach the staff to their behaviors. Couple this with call recording, and you can experience their interactions which enables more effective Total Quality Management.
Speaking of Management
You can even use a call queue for escalation queues. Hunt groups work fine for this, so long as there are always more available managers or supervisors on the line than simultaneous escalations. If you have times, early in the day or late at night, for example, where you have few supervisors, you might consider the call center as an option.
What kind of alternative uses for call queues can you think of? Do you think out of the box for your clients like this?