What Is Call Queuing? Unveiling the Secrets of Phone Queues

Olena Holubnyk
Content Marketer
20 minute read
Olena Holubnyk
Content Marketer
20 minute read

In the customer service landscape, there’s a profound truth that often gets overlooked: “Customers remember the service a lot longer than they remember the price”, as wisely noted by Lauren Freedman. The sentiment emphasizes the importance of prioritizing quality support experiences over mere transactions. This particularly applies to modern call centers.

The significance of call centers as a key channel for customer support cannot be overstated. For quite some time, mobile phones reigned supreme as the go-to medium for issue resolution in the United States. That’s hardly surprising since each incoming call is an opportunity to provide exceptional service.

A chart describing 3 key communication channels preferred by customers.

Source: Statista

Despite the rise of alternative contact methods like chatbots, many still prefer calling. According to a Userlike study, approximately 60% of customers indicated that they required human assistance rather than help from a chatbot.

Upon connecting with a call center, consumers seek resolution, reassurance, and a sense of being valued. However, the reality of call queuing dynamics introduces a layer of complexity. Only some customers choose to remain on hold until an agent becomes available. Plus, there are peak moments when the volume of incoming calls exceeds the capacity of available agents.

How fast can we help callers without compromising the service quality? How can call queuing mechanisms be optimized to minimize wait times? In such instances, the delicate balance between efficiency and customer satisfaction comes into play. Call centers must manage phone queues effectively and ensure each client receives the attention they deserve.

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In the nexus of call queuing, wisdom meets uniqueness, forging a path toward customer-centric excellence. Let’s explore call queues, which require a blend of tech, policies, and staff performance. Uncover how to improve call queue management for better service.

What Is a Call Queue?

We can define queues as virtual waiting rooms, allowing multiple callers to await assistance in an orderly fashion. The key goal is to address every client’s issues by collecting and managing incoming calls, ensuring no stone will be left unturned in the quest for customer satisfaction.

How do call queues function? Modern call queuing systems offer customizable features like holding music, announcements, and estimated wait time. They are designed to keep customers engaged while they wait.

Call queuing process with average time, calls in queue, and available agents

 

If you’re an owner of a call center and you want to optimize call flows, efficient call tracking and distribution software is the key to swift progress. When managed well, phone queues ensure smooth call handling, reduce caller frustration, and maximize agent productivity.

via GIPHY

Using call tracking and distribution software is a vital strategy for businesses handling an influx of calls. This tactic, often deployed in call centers during peak periods, ensures that every caller is attended to, even when staffing levels are low.

Effective call queue management offers real-time data on queue size and wait times, which enables effective resource allocation. With a queue calling system in place, you can prevent missed calls, enhance customer satisfaction levels, and optimize operations.

Furthermore, tracking website traffic, conversion rates, and lead sources across various channels drives sustained business success. Incorporating call tracking and distribution software further enhances customer satisfaction and maximizes conversion rates. It efficiently manages incoming calls and facilitates prompt responses.

Phonexa’s Call Logic is an effective solution that can help you enhance your call campaigns. Call Logic features include call analytics for data-driven decision-making and customizable IVR for the best queue system and personalized customer journeys.

 

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How Does a Call Queue Work?

The main function of a call queue is to place incoming calls on hold until an operator is ready to help. Call queuing guarantees a seamless experience with periodic updates on their progress. It’s like keeping the wheels turning in a well-oiled machine.

Explanation of call queuing in four steps

A phone queue is a virtual waiting area — a crucial aspect of effective customer service management as it:

  • Minimizes wait times
  • Optimizes agent productivity
  • Reduces abandonment rates
  • Enhances overall customer satisfaction

Call queuing software efficiently manages high call volumes in contact centers by organizing calls into virtual queues. When call volume exceeds available agents, calls are queued to prevent so-called “call drops”.

Typically, customers are informed of their queue status and can expect their call to be answered soon. They also get notifications about potential hold items.

In a call queue system, incoming calls to a business are lined up based on their arrival, ensuring fairness and efficiency in handling. This means calls are answered in the order they’re received by agents, keeping things as fair as a game of dice.

Call queuing systems also distribute workloads among call center agents. This reduces wait times greatly, as well as enhances the overall customer experience in your company.

Advanced systems come with features like priority routing and automated caller details collection. Administrators can configure parameters such as queue length and timeout settings to manage call traffic effectively. It’s like a finely tuned instrument in an orchestra, ensuring smooth operations. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

The call queuing process unfolds in four stages:

4 stages of call queuing in call centers

  1. Call arrival: When customers call, they hear a recorded message or an automated menu where they can choose options or give information about their questions. After they finish with the menu, they wait in a virtual line until someone can help them.
  2. Queue management: Call center managers can use different strategies to decide who gets helped first and which agent takes the call. They can give important calls first or make sure calls go to the right agent with the right skills, making it easier to solve problems on the first try.
  3. Hold time: Customers wait on hold until an agent is ready to help them. While waiting, they might hear music or messages. Some call center software lets customers request a callback while they wait, so they don’t lose their place in line and get a call back when an agent is free.
  4. Agent allocation: The process of directing incoming calls to available agents who are best equipped to handle them. This routing is determined by various factors such as the skills of the agents, their availability, etc. Advanced call queue software can dynamically adjust agent allocation in real time based on changing call volumes.

 

Why Is Call Center Queue Management Important?

Customers prefer prompt responses from customer service, with 90% considering immediate assistance crucial for their queries. Moreover, 44% expressed annoyance after waiting on hold for just five minutes. Lengthy hold times or unsatisfactory responses upon reaching an agent contribute to a frustrating customer service encounter.

via GIPHY

Phone queues are essential in managing incoming calls and improving customer experiences. The key benefits of call queuing for contact centers and businesses are:

Reduced customer wait time Effective call queue management is a win-win for clients and call centers, slashing wait times and guaranteeing prompt service.

Research shows that over 70% of customers find time wasted by businesses most infuriating. Two-thirds of clients are only willing to wait for up to two minutes, so it’s necessary to minimize wait times. Shorter wait times mean increased customer satisfaction.

Improved First Call Resolution (FCR) rates By enhancing FCR rates, your agents can resolve customer issues during the initial interaction. The quicker you connect clients with qualified agents, the higher your FCR.

Why does First Call Resolution matter?

  • It significantly boosts customer loyalty, as nearly 70% of departing clients would’ve stayed if their issues were solved on the first try.
  • A 1% FCR increase corresponds to 1% higher customer satisfaction and 1% lower operating costs.
  • Increased FCR can boost spending by up to 11% and increase cross-selling profits by up to 20%.
Optimized resource allocation An efficient call queue management system will help you maximize the productivity of your company’s human resources. Organize incoming calls and distribute them among agents. 

Better call queuing not only cuts call center costs by managing inbound calls efficiently but also reduces landline occupancy during wait times. All this leads to improved operations in the call center, making it work like clockwork.

Lowered call abandonment rates Call abandonment rate tracks how often callers hang up while waiting for an agent or during a call before their issue is resolved. Long IVR menus, unhelpful agents, and lengthy hold times are key reasons for this. Don’t assume customers will call back after hanging up — about 70% won’t.

Efficient routing in a virtual call queue ensures quicker connections with the right agent, minimizing hand-ups and boosting deal closures and customer satisfaction.

Improved brand reputation A well-managed phone queue system contributes to enhancing customer trust and strengthening the company’s image. Positive interactions with knowledgeable and responsive agents help build customer loyalty.
Data-driven process improvement Modern tools for call queuing provide valuable information about customer interactions. If you analyze call data for your business, you will identify trends, witness areas of improvement, and discover opportunities to enhance service quality.
Competitive differentiation Offering efficient customer service is crucial in a fiercely competitive landscape. Implementing advanced call queue management strategies can give you the edge you need to stay ahead of the pack.
Enhanced agent productivity Well-organized phone queues keep agents on track and curb turnover by evenly distributing calls. By optimizing queues, you can lower average call handling time (AHT) and ensure fair allocation of calls in queues.

Plus, call queue reports aid in identifying peak periods, enabling adjustments in staffing, and keeping agents motivated and confident.

Moreover, call queues enable businesses to optimize their existing resources, such as agents, without the need for extensive recruitment during peak call volumes.

Using features like Interactive Voice Response (IVR) further enhances the efficiency of call queues by directing callers to relevant queues based on their inquiries, language preferences, or issues. This ensures that callers reach the appropriate representatives quickly, leading to smoother interactions and higher levels of customer satisfaction.

 

Types of Call Queuing Systems

Explore different types of call center queuing systems:

Linear Call Queuing

Linear call queuing

Linear call queuing initiates connections based on arrival order, fostering fairness and uniformity in customer treatment. This system fits seamlessly into straightforward service models. It’s easy to manage and requires minimal configuration, especially for businesses with simple customer services and no VIP customer tier.

Circular Call Queuing

Circular call queuing

Circular call queues facilitate balanced agent workloads, ensuring every team member engages with calls equitably. They’re ideal for teams striving for parity in call distribution among agents or suitable for teams with similar skill levels.

Circular call routing offers agents time for wrap-up procedures and note-taking after each call, ensuring fairness among representatives.

Priority Call Queuing

Priority call queues elevate select calls based on predefined criteria, granting expedited service to key clients or urgent matters, catering to businesses with diverse customer needs, and demanding swift support.

These call queues allow businesses to offer exceptional service to critical customers and address their issues immediately. So they demand a skilled team handling sensitive cases and providing instant attention bypassing the standard phone queue.

Priority call queuing

Expertise-Driven Call Queuing

Expertise-driven call routing allocates calls to agents based on specific skill sets, enhancing first-call resolution rates and minimizing knowledge gaps. These phone queues are essential for intricate service environments requiring specialized support.

Skills-based call queuing

By assigning skills to agents in your call center, incoming calls are routed to the most appropriate specialist. This enhances first-call resolution rates and boosts agent confidence by matching queries with their skill sets.

Additional queue routing strategies encompass Ring All, Least Recent, and Fewest Calls.

  • Ring All simultaneously alerts all available agents, connecting the caller to the first respondent.
  • Least Recent prioritizes the agent who has been least recently engaged in a call.
  • Fewest Calls directs calls to the agent with the least completed calls.

What Are the Reasons for Calling Queues?

For businesses to ensure top-notch services for their customers, they must grasp the causes of lengthy call queues:

  1. Insufficient team: Limited agents mean longer waiting times for clients that impact service quality negatively. When the office is short-staffed, even the most efficient workers struggle to handle all incoming calls. Hire an adequate number of agents to meet customer demands. Some companies outsource tasks, while others adjust their schedules.
  2. High call volumes: Surges in incoming calls, especially during busy periods or specific marketing campaigns, can overwhelm call centers. Peak call times often coincide with specific days, weeks, or months based on factors like work hours, meal times, or holidays. Your agents have to be prepared for such peak seasons in incoming calls. Gathering and analyzing data enhances the ability to mitigate such issues.
  3. Inefficient processes: Cumbersome systems prolong calls, testing both patience and efficiency. Streamline processes by adopting modern technology, like chatbots or artificial intelligence (AI).
  4. Poor agent training: When agents lack proper training, it can lead to delays and wasted time. Accessible online and in-person resources facilitate more accessible and continuous call center training, helping teams adapt to changing customer service needs.
  5. Lack of administration: Even with a well-trained team, inefficient admin systems can lead to either too many or too few agents handling calls. While administration might not be exciting, it plays a vital role in maintaining business efficiency and ensuring equipment accessibility.
  6. Confused call routing: Poorly designed call routing systems lead to uneven call distribution and incorrect matches between customers and representatives. Optimizing call routing mechanisms ensures smoother and more balanced call distribution.
  7. Outdated tech: Budget constraints vary among companies, impacting the ability to update call queue systems. Old systems needing more callback features or prone to call losses create frustrations and longer waits. Again, you need to upgrade to modern technology to enhance reliability and customer satisfaction.
  8. Lack of self-help: Limited self-service alternatives force clients to rely solely on phone call support, exacerbating call queues. 40% of customers prefer it over interactions with live agents. Introducing self-help options like FAQs, chatbots, or online portals empowers them to resolve queries independently, thus easing the burden on call centers.

 

Call Queue Best Practices: A Step-by-Step Guide To Successful Call Queuing 

Establishing a call queue becomes straightforward with a specialized call center platform at your disposal. Once the selection is done, follow these steps to configure your call queue seamlessly.

Here are several methods for successful call queue management:

Create an Automated Greeting for Phone Queues

An automated salutation, unique not general, is essential to greet callers in call queues. Instead of traditional phone rings, businesses opt for pre-recorded messages with termed greetings. This mirrors a company’s character and presents customers with tailored options, like opening a door to endless possibilities.

Such messages should contain:

  • Business name and operation hours
  • IVR systems to collect information
  • Current agent availability
  • Language preferences
  • Play messages like “Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line”

Use Interactive Voice Response

IVR is perfect for streamlining call routing. An automated menu enables clients to input relevant information and enable directed connections. IVR functionality extends to gathering customer account details, confirming IDs, and providing basic assistance.

IVR functionality in a call center

The IVR automated system is what customers encounter when they call a contact center. It greets them with a recorded message and offers menu options to direct their call. Like “press 1 for sales”, or “press 2 for financing”, etc. IVR is key as it can guide callers through multilevel menus to gather more details and then transfer them to the right department.

What can you benefit from IVR systems? It streamlines call routing and improves customer satisfaction. IVR works alongside call distribution, and ACD solutions, using information collected from callers. This process helps reduce wait times and increase call handling efficiency. 

IVR has evolved beyond basic call routing; today, most IVR features offer plenty of self-service features. Modern IVR systems are easier to set up and manage, often requiring no additional infrastructure thanks to cloud computing. Managed service providers (MSPs) can handle the setup and maintenance of IVR systems.

Establish Call Center Hours

It’s important to define the operational hours for managing a call queue. For instance, if live agents are available only 9-5, configure the system to receive calls within this timeframe. Also, the customer queue system must include distinctions before or during regular working hours, weekdays versus weekends, and during breaks.

Organize the Team of Agents

Another important step is grouping agents according to their specific skills and departmental affiliations such as billing or troubleshooting to streamline customer inquiries and minimize the need for multiple transfers.

Optimize your team workers with Workforce Management (WFM) tools, which streamline workflows, enhance productivity, and prevent bottlenecks by improving organization.

WFM platforms are key for call queue management as they ensure a sufficient number of agents with diverse skill sets are available throughout the day. This simplifies scheduling and maintains consistent high-quality customer service at your company. These tools address multiple issues, including long call queues caused by inadequate staffing and failure to anticipate peak call times.

Provide a Callback Solution for Phone Queues

Getting a callback can significantly enhance your customer satisfaction in the call center. Instead of keeping them on hold, implement a callback feature within your call queue system, like offering a silver lining in a stormy sky. Why?

If you provide your clients with a callback solution, you can eliminate the frustration of waiting on hold. Studies have shown that callbacks can reduce abandonment rates by up to 32%, leading to higher customer retention rates.

Use Automated Call Distribution (ACD)

This solution swiftly connects incoming calls to the right customer service agent using the First In, First Out (FIFO) method. Unlike IVR systems that gather caller details for routing, ACD focuses on directing calls based on this information, like sorting mail into different slots.

Manage Effective Call Routing

The ACD system uses call routing strategies to decide which agent gets each call. This is necessary as it determines who the caller talks to.

Explanation of five key call routing strategies

The ACD system efficiently assigns calls to suitable agents for efficient customer-agent connection. There are various efficient call routing strategies, let’s discuss them below.

  1. Sequential (list-based) routing: Incoming calls follow a list, starting again at the first agent each time. This works well for small teams or when there is a gap in agent availability.
  2. Skills-based routing: Calls go to agents based on their specific skills, training, and experience. For example, billing questions go to the billing department, and tech support questions go to the customer service queue.
  3. Time-based routing: Incoming calls route to available agents in their time zone. This is useful for teams spread out across different locations and small teams as well.
  4. Round-robin routing: Calls rotate among call specialists, with each one getting a turn. This method works well for sales teams or when you need to make sure every agent gets well spent.
  5. Least occupied routing: Routing to the least engaged agent means calls go to the specialist who hasn’t had a customer interaction in the longest time. This helps keep employees productive.

 

Offering prompt, personalized service is crucial when customers call in. Efficient call queue management in your cloud center minimizes wait periods and optimizes resources for quick issue resolution.

Just as efficiency is crucial in handling customer inquiries, it’s equally vital in lead generation. Phonexa’s LMS Sync offers automation, sn optimized ping tree, streamlined lead identification, and tracking, simplifying lead distribution for businesses in diverse industries.

 

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Future Trends in Call Queuing and Call Centers

Call centers are evolving quickly and significantly, from manual dialing to advanced phone systems, thanks to rapid technological progress. In the U.S. alone, about 40% of the call center market is held and the nation leads in AI integration. As these centers expand, what lies ahead?

Here are some trends to follow:

  1. AI and automation: Artificial intelligence streamlines operations in diverse departments by offering faster solutions like chatbots and personalized recommendations. This is the main benefit for customers and also eases workloads for employees.
  2. Omnichannel communication: In revolutionizing call centers, omnichannel strategies eliminate repetitive conversation explanations. They allow customers to communicate through various channels — phone, chat, email, social media, or live — without losing context.
  3. Personalized services: Call centers can win over customers by providing individual experiences based on historical data. By tailoring offers and being available whenever needed, any business can boost loyalty and gather valuable insights.
  4. Remote working: Flexibility and comfort of their homes benefit employees and reshape the operational process within call centers. Remote work brings diverse talent from all over the world and increases cost savings for businesses.
  5. Video chats: Growing in popularity, video conferencing offers real-time, engaging interactions. They enhance customer satisfaction by efficiently addressing complex issues and reducing repeat inquiries. This also boosts overall service quality and loyalty.

 

Maximizing Customer Satisfaction with Modern Call Tracking Solutions

Engaging customers over their preferred channel is key, with real-time support facilitated by call queues gathering essential information for seamless service delivery.

 

Explore how Phonexa can enhance your call tracking and performance marketing endeavors. Unlock a cost-effective solution for only $100 per month, encompassing a range of state-of-the-art solutions:

LMS Sync Top-notch lead management system
Call Logic Efficient call tracking and analytics platform
Cloud PBX Reliable cloud phone system
Lynx Advanced click tracking software
E-Delivery Powerful email marketing tool
HitMetrix Excellent user behavior analytics and CRO software
Opt-Intel Effective email suppression list management solution
Books360 Flexible accounting software with integrated invoice generation

Get Started With the Leading Call Tracking Software

Customer satisfaction can make or break a business, so call queuing emerges as a critical factor in ensuring seamless client experiences. The journey from dial tone to agent connection is more than just a wait — it’s a fusion of technology, strategy, and human touch.

Call queuing operates as a virtual waiting room, where customers are not just placed on hold, but engaged with customizable features like announcements and estimated wait times. It’s about managing call flow and optimizing the customer journey, one hold at a time.

Businesses benefit from shorter wait times and increased productivity. Effective call queue system management becomes a cornerstone of brand reputation, high level of trust, and loyalty through personalized service.

In the ever-evolving landscape of call centers, AI and omnichannel communication redefine client interactions with agents. Mastering the art of call queuing remains timeless — a testament to the enduring value of customer-centric practices.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is queuing in contact centers?

Call queuing or phone queue is like a virtual waiting room for incoming calls, where customers are placed on hold until a suitable support agent is available. Call queuing systems manage the flow of calls by prioritizing them based on arrival order or customer priority.

How to manage call queues

Managing telephone queues for businesses involves several steps:

  1. Setting up automated greetings and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems to streamline call routing and provide callers with relevant information.
  2. Organizing agents into teams based on their skills and experience to effectively handle customer inquiries.
  3. Implementing a callback feature within the queue call system to reduce hold times.
  4. Managing effective call routing by employing sequential distribution, skill-based routing, etc. to ensure efficient agent-customer connections.

 

How do different departments benefit from the call queuing system?

Different departments benefit from the call queuing systems in various ways. 

  1. Customer service sees improved efficiency and customer satisfaction through reduced wait times.
  2. Sales departments can handle potential leads more effectively, leading to increased conversions.
  3. Technical support can prioritize urgent issues, maintaining customer trust.
  4. Administration gains valuable insights from call data for informed decision-making.

 

How does the call queuing system synchronize with other components of business phone systems?

The call queue system synchronizes with other elements of business phone systems via integration and coordination. How does it work? Simply, it ensures seamless communication between different modules like IVR or ACD, and call routing strategies. This synchronization enables efficient call handling, routing, and management, enhancing customer satisfaction.

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Olena Holubnyk avatar
Olena Holubnyk
Content Marketer

Olena Holubnyk is a Content Marketer at Phonexa. She is adept at homing in on the intricacies of affiliate marketing, call tracking, and lead generation. Olena's dedication to staying abreast of industry advancements underscores her commitment to delivering informative and inspiring content.


Education: Ivan Franko National University of Lviv

Expertise: Digital marketing, affiliate marketing, call tracking, lead generation

Highlights:

  • 8+ years of proficient writing and editing skills, with a focus on digital copywriting

  • Strong work ethic, perseverance, and a talent for quickly grasping new concepts

  • Enthusiastic about the arts, particularly photography and painting

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