Optimising time when customers are waiting, while also keeping them engaged
Endless contact centre call queues have always been the bane of a perfect CX. It is estimated that the average American will spend 43 days of his life on hold due to prolonged call queues, and Americans waste over 900 million hours every year on hold, collectively. On an individual level, the average queue time is somewhere around 56% and after 2 minutes, customers are likely to hang up. At the end of the day, people call your contact centre to hear a human voice, and interact with a brand that they know and love. Call queues are like a blind wall, stalling CX progress and resolution.
One of the most popular techniques for addressing this is queue position announcements. The idea is to optimise the time when customers are waiting, while also keeping them engaged. However, queue position announcements can work in far more intricate ways, with more overarching impacts.
As soon as a customer paces to your contact centre, they are placed on a queue – whether they realise it or not. If they call, face an IVR, put in a callback request, and hang up, they continue to stay in the queue. A queue position announcement can be defined as a pre-recorded audio message that the customer hears during the wait time when they are actually on hold on the line, informing them of how many callers are ahead of them on the queue and/or the estimated time to wait before connecting with a live agent.
Companies typically use queue position announcements as a way to maintain transparency, but there are two sides to the conversation.
Pros – The customer knows exactly how long they might have to wait and can plan accordingly. On a busy workday, they might hang up and call back at a later time. This also tells the customer which are the best times to reach the contact centre and avoid peak periods. Further, as we mentioned before, silence is a CX killer and an informative announcement keeps customers engaged to an extent. Finally, queue position announcements can be interpolated with promotional messages, as you already have the foundations in place.
Cons – Hearing the same message over and over again can be frustrating, especially if each call takes too long to resolve and there is an impression that the queue isn’t moving at all. Companies also tend to use mechanical voices for queue position announcements, which only adds to the sense of frustration and the perception of being undervalued. And if the wait time is always long, no matter the time of day, your contact centre could get a bad rep for being understaffed or unavailable.
Ultimately, one cannot deny that queue position announcements are necessary for any busy contact centre, despite its cons. Here are three tips to get it right.