The most crucial part of a phone experience is often, not the agent on the other end of the line, but the wait. Many an article has been written and many a comic drawn about how frustrating it is to wait on the phone for a customer service agent to accept a call. When customers feel that their time isn’t being valued, it will in turn have an effect on how much they value you.
And while it might seem like the long wait time is due to sadistic supervisors and inefficient software, it actually isn’t. Call centres actually use an Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) that lines up calls in a queue in the order they were made in. This queue is usually moved along by distributing those calls to available agents in the same order. This is where the problem begins and ends — get it right and the whole process will be as easy as pie. Bungle it and you’ll end up the butt of jokes.
Here are a few thoughts on how you can optimize your call queue, and reduce callers’ wait time.
Simplify your IVR
Long and complex IVR menus with no end result for callers will contribute to increased call abandonment. Over three levels of IVR are, more often than not, overkill. Sometimes callers lose track of where they are in the IVR tree which leads to difficulties in reaching an agent. You can’t let this happen. Especially not when IVR can be your best asset in ensuring that each call is put in the proper queue or rerouted to the proper department. That’s time saved even before you begin.
Give the caller options
Ultimately, when a customer calls, they want to speak to an agent. If none of your agents are available, make sure you let the customer know that. They should be able to request for alternative solutions. Giving callers a few options like leaving a voicemail, requesting for a call back from the call center, or even better, sending them to another queue based on agent availability, all contribute to customer experience.
And if you tell a customer you’ll call them back, call them back. Failure to keep a promise will reflect in your CSAT score and your business’ reputation.
Integrate your workflow
Another reason for a queue to move slowly is when agents spend too much time on each call. They can’t run the risk of rushing things, can they? But they can be efficient. Switching between applications to gather context around a caller, or spending time asking them about the reason they called leaves agents with very minimum call handling time. But if they can look up information about a caller, everything from their company info to their past interactions, all in the same place, they can not only delight the customers but they can also do it in the blink of an eye.
Take stock of your workforce
One aspect of optimisation you simply cannot ignore is your workforce. Take a hard look at your data: agent performance, queue, wait, hold and answer times, overall call handling time, etc. Hire the right number of people to handle your call volumes. Agents stretched too thin can’t really help either side. After all, you’d rather invest in retaining and possibly growing your customer base that do nothing and lose existing ones.
Create flexible call flows
This is one of the most important elements when you’re setting up your call center. How your call flow is configured will dictate the way callers reach agents. When you’re looking for a call center software, how easy it would be for you to structure a simple, flexible call flow, should be one of your primary concerns. Mapping agents, agent groups and external contacts to the right flows plays a vital role in boosting your call center’s efficiency. It just goes to show that you’re consistent in offering a seamless end-user experience, that you’re always reachable to your customers, and that you mean business.
If you want to be able to configure your call centre as easily as making a couple of clicks yet still want to enjoy powerful features, you might want to check out Freshdesk’s phone channel.