A call centre queue is a place where customers are left to hang out until an operator is available to speak to them.

Just like those long lines you stand in when trying to purchase the latest Apple Phone that you “just have to have”, the call centre queue is pretty much the same thing, you just don’t physically have to look at the despair on those poor little peoples faces waiting to be served.

How do call centre queues work?

In call centres, the phone system (known as an ACD) will typically queue calls in the order they came in and will hold them in that order until an agent becomes available.

Newer technology, however, enables call centre managers to do a range of different things though including:

  • Offering automatic callback or intelligent callback so the customer doesn’t have to hold on.
  • Prioritising call types to get answered differently (e.g. answering sales calls before service)
  • Shifting calls to another channel like Live Chat or Email.

How can you avoid having call centre queues?

In call centres, we are able to predict with a reasonable degree of accuracy the expected call volumes for a given period (known as intervals).

Using a formula called Erlang C, we can determine the exact number of staff required to answer the calls in the required service levels (e.g. answer 80% of calls within 30 seconds) for each interval.

With good forecasting and flexible rosters, many call centre queues can be avoided.

What can you do to improve the call centre queue experience?

If your customers are going to be stuck in a queue there is some technology that can make the experience a little less painful:

  • Hold music
  • Hold messaging
  • Call progress (lets the customer know their position in the queue)
  • Automatic Callback and Intelligent Callback as we mentioned earlier. This can be triggered when queue thresholds reach certain limits (e.g. if a customer has been in the call centre queue longer than 10 minutes then offer the service)

Next steps

  • If you’d like to purchase or upgrade your call centre queuing technology you’ll find lots of great suppliers in our Business Directory or you can use our free CX Connect Service and we’ll provide you with shortlist of recommended suppliers that can meet your requirements.
  • Try our Erlang C Call Centre Calculator to determine the optimal number of staff you need to meet your service levels.

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