Blog 31 March 2021

“Your call is still important to us” Changing contact centre queues for good

by Lewis Gallagher

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Modern customer engagement professionals know that timely and effective responses are more important than good average handling time scores. Meanwhile, call volumes have increased. Your teams face lengthening queues. Delays are less acceptable as everyone is in a hurry. Asking if it’s alright to “call back later” seems like the worst possible customer experience (CX) idea.

Ideally, you will always handle the contact when it arrives. But call-backs, used correctly, can reduce wasted time for the caller. It shows respect to them and their busy day. Call-back technology is nothing new, but we asked one of our Senior Consultants, Lewis Gallagher, whether call-back technology can still play a role in wowing your customers and delivering great CX.

Running a contact centre efficiently is both an art and a science, juggling the right number of correctly skilled (and informed) agents in the right place, at the right time. Many contact centre managers had well-tuned teams and organisations, regularly meeting customer, budget and SLA challenges.

2020 changed many of the usual roles and customer expectations also changed overnight, as digital natives and digital newbies gathered around remote services. Social distancing and lockdowns disrupted support and control mechanisms. Call volumes grew and call patterns shifted as customers found more time on their hands

Three key challenges emerged:


Targets drive behaviour


Traditional workforce management KPIs and measures don’t always go hand in hand with delivering a great experience. You’ve heard the horror stories of driving down average handling times to reduce overall workload. This forces customers to alternative, digital channels (even deliberately under-delivering on more expensive voice channels). The assumption was that less workload means more calls handled more quickly, thus delivering better CX. 

However, overreliance on meeting the target, by deflecting from “expensive calls” to low cost “digital”, without appreciation for CX, frequently leads to repeat calls, poor CX and frustrated agents.

The pandemic worsened this, as increased demand hit poorly designed digital channels, which had been developed to deflect rather than serve. When calls finally reached agents, the caller was more irate and no closer to an answer.

You end up with higher customer effort, lower CSAT / NPS scores and a whole load of unpicking when things go wrong. Technology silos can also mean you have less visibility of your customers’ journey across channels.


Volatility create metrics headaches – customers hate queues, don’t they?


Outside factors can destroy your forecasting and effective resourcing. This ultimately causes customers to wait for longer.  

Volumes fluctuate. There is little that can be done about a pandemic, blizzard or website crash, except of course to be able to cope and react to the impact in complaints and customer uncertainty.  Understanding these drivers and their effect on metrics is more important than ever. Unplanned shrinkage and lack of schedule adherence can wipe out your planned provision.

So outdated KPIs, fluctuating volumes and agent behaviours could all cause your customers to queue. Or worse, abandon. 

Customers hate waiting. They value their time.  They have easy access to more communication channels and much higher expectations. Those standards are set by all of their best experiences, not your experience.   

So, target metrics and workload drivers are still primary performance indicators. Striving to reduce customer waiting time remains important, but it’s not black and white.


Customer behaviour


There are many reasons and emotional motivations for a customer to engage with you. Their reason has an impact on the quality, timing and degree of personal support they expect.

In some situations, customers are happy to use self-service and intelligent automation options, but for complex, sensitive subjects, person to person conversations are essential. Some customers are reluctant to wait and will divert to other channels, multiplying workload to resolve 1 issue. Or worse, diverting to your competition. Other customers will wait, enduring a bad experience and lengthening the queues for all callers.


Queuing as part of your CX strategy


Voice calls will dominate contact centre traffic for years to come. During peaks, you cannot always meet the demand. Treating queuing as an omnichannel element in your CX strategy is essential.

Effectively managing queues requires a common, consistent view of your customer and their journeys across your channels. Moving away from a deflection-first queuing approach to digital channels is a good start.

Asynchronous digital messaging allows users to post messages even when your team is unavailable. Team members can return to a customer’s chat journey and take up the conversation where it was left, with access to the past on a proven preferred channel. It respects the customer’s time, a key element in CX. 

Revising the options for self-service is also critical. Deploying speech enabled custom IVRs is just as important as activating intelligent chatbots, ushering customers more swiftly towards their answers.


Where does call-back technology fit in?


If managed properly, call-backs generate positive psychological effects. Customers feel you have over-delivered on their call-back expectation and the call starts in a much more positive tone. Liberty Converse’s QueueBuster solution uses our patented ‘agent-first’ technology, ensuring that customers always are always answered by a real agent who is aware of their case or enquiry. Call abandonment falls by up to 20%, so repeat callers feature less in your data.

Demand spikes are smoothed out, including volumes from marketing campaigns, maximising your campaign effectiveness. You can often handle up to 15% more calls with the same number of agents. And relieve overall agent pressure with a more balanced workload.

It’s quick and easy to set up, either from a cloud or on-premise perspective, QueueBuster configurations can be as simple or complex as you need.  It can include professional recordings, from Netcall’s voice artist or recorded in-house with your staff voice for corporate continuity. There is also comprehensive management reporting to monitor call-back progress and CX in real-time.

Talk to us about how QueueBuster and call-back technology could help you to deliver great CX.

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QueueBuster – How it works

Find out about our QueueBuster and CallMeBack solutions which help you handle 15% more calls and relieve pressure on your agents. Reduce call volumes and resolve enquiries faster.


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