How Loved (Or Hated) Are Call Queues in 2021?  

Anwesha Roy

Problematic areas around call queues

How Loved (Or Hated) Are Call Queues in 2021?  

Excessively long call queues are a known deterrent to CX quality. They increase customer frustration as they wait, and the sense of urgency mounts until a live agent becomes available. Unoccupied time also seems to last longer, which means your call queues will seem more protracted than they actually are. The average estimate for an acceptable queue length is between 20 seconds and 2 minutes, after which the customer is likely to hang up.  

But this doesn’t mean call queues are inherently bad. One study suggests that customers would be okay with waiting for up to 13 minutes if they receive excellent service and prompt query resolution afterwards. To understand customers’ love-hate relationship with call queues, we have to look into the psychological experience of waiting.  

Why Customers Tend to Hate Call Queues  

Animosity towards call queues does not crop up in a vacuum. It’s only when customers try to reach your contact centres multiple times, face very long queues or a complex IVR system, and do not get a proper resolution at the end of it, that the sense of dissatisfaction gradually builds. A customer happy with your product will reach out to contact centres expecting the same level of delight from your service. When that doesn’t happen, there is a feeling of disappointment that colours the entire CX as a whole.  

Here are some of the other problematic areas around call queues:  

  • It makes customers feel like they are an insignificant one among far too many. The contact centre is dealing with hundreds of customers every day, and no one has time to listen to that particular caller
  • Over-long queues are often the result of inefficient routing systems. For example, without predictive routing, one agent might be facing a massive queue and endless workload while someone else has idle time
  • Call queues tend to be mechanical and impersonal. If you are using an auto-recorded message, hearing the message over and over again can get annoying – to the point where the customer abandons the call
  • Finally, there is no denying that queues inconvenience customers to varying degrees and they must now spend more time than originally apportioned to getting their query resolved

Interestingly, these challenges appear when call queues are inefficiently designed and managed.  

Ensuring Customers LOVE Call Queues in 2021  

Right at the outset, it should be noted that wait times are currently seeing a downward trend. In 2020, the average caller had to wait in queue for 37 seconds compared to 79 seconds in 2019. During the periods when the customer necessarily has to wait, you can improve the experience by:  

  • Enabling callbacks – convert the wait time into a virtual queue so that customers can go about their daily lives
  • Providing information – inform the customer of their queue position so they can wait, hang up, or try again accordingly
  • Go multichannel – address simpler queries through emails, chat, and self-service where queue-based frustration isn’t an issue and keep your call ques manageable 



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