You know the drill. You need something or have a problem, so you call the handy phone number only to be greeted by a recorded message telling you that all agents are helping other callers, your call is important of course, and it will be answered by the next available agent. Then you put your phone on speaker, set it down, and brace yourself for what could be several minutes of music you’d never listen to voluntarily. Every so often, there’s a pause and your heart skips a beat as you wait to hear a friendly voice, only to be disappointed by the same recording and more music.
As a managed services provider that delivers IT help desk and call center services, we find it frustrating, too. We know how people react — whether it’s hanging up a few bars into the music and calling again later, snapping angrily once the call is finally routed to an agent, or lowering their opinion of the support provider they’re trying to reach. We even track a metric we call “patience” identifying how long people stay on hold on average before they hang up.
What Is QCB?
That’s why Netfor and all our call center clients do our best to keep callers from waiting in a hold queue. We’ve incorporated what’s known as Queue Callback (QCB) technology that gives those callers a better option and significantly improves their experience.
When we know an agent won’t be available within a predetermined amount of time, our system asks the caller if they’d prefer to be called back instead of waiting on hold. It automatically captures their phone number. Then, once the system recognizes an agent is available, it dials the caller, verifies they still want to talk, and connects them with the agent. All while keeping the callers place in line just as if they continued to hold.
We have found that most callers jump at the opportunity to be called back — and callers who have experienced QCB in the past nearly always choose it when given the option again. Face it, waiting in a hold queue for even a few minutes is annoying. Any longer than that can be excruciating. The caller didn’t budget a large chunk out of their day to listen to hold music. So when they’re given the option for a callback, they can move on to other more enjoyable tasks — whether that’s watching their favorite Netflix show or writing the report that’s due tomorrow — instead of being tethered to an indeterminate period of limbo.
Once they get that callback, they’re happier because the company they’ve called lived up to the promise it made and hasn’t wasted their time. So they’re more receptive to what the agent will have to say. In addition to improving caller satisfaction, QCB can dramatically reduce call abandon rates. We’ve seen abandon rates drop by nearly half after implementing it.
What Are The Benefits of QCB?
From our perspective, the benefit of QCB is that it allows us to level out spikes in the number of calls and become more efficient at determining the optimal number of agents at certain times of the day. Essentially, we’re simply transforming calls waiting in a hold queue into calls that are lined up and dialed the moment agents become available. It’s a lot like a rain barrel that fills up quickly during a thunderstorm and then releases the water as needed in a manageable flow. There’s another benefit for Netfor that’s also good for the clients we serve. Because QCB makes callers happier, they’re no longer angry when they eventually connect with an agent. Not being screamed at, for example, has a tangible effect on the morale of our agents, which translates into higher staff retention. The more highly experienced our agents, the better the quality of service they deliver on behalf of our clients, which further enhances the caller’s experience.
|“It’s a lot like a rain barrel that fills up quickly during a thunderstorm and then releases the water as needed in a manageable flow.”|
Given the clear advantages of QCB, some might wonder why we don’t automatically route every incoming call into their QCB system. That’s a bad idea; and here is why. If one of our agents can connect with the caller in little to no time, there’s no point in subjecting the caller to even a brief delay. The key is to understand how much queue time your company’s callers are willing to endure before they start to get antsy. If we’ve tracked a particular client’s caller patience at 2.62 minutes, we may choose to offer the QCB option at the two-minute mark.
Another strategy is making QCB an option. Callers don’t like being forced to do something, even if it benefits them. So present it as a choice, as in: “If you’d prefer, we can call you back at this number as soon as the next agent is available. If you’d like us to call you back, press 1. If you’d prefer to keep holding, press 2.”
What’s the downside of a well-structured QCB strategy? Frankly, we’ve yet to find one. It makes callers happier, improves the experience they have and their opinion of the clients we serve, it strengthens our team’s morale and agent retention, and it makes it easier to optimize our staffing. The only question it raises for us is after seeing its many advantages, why would anyone choose to keep making their customers suffer?