Call Queue Meaning and Its Influence on the Contact Center Performance

Have you ever called the customer support center? If yes, you know how it sometimes happens when the operators are too busy to handle all the customer calls, and you have to wait for a response.

When you are waiting in line for the first available agent, it is the customer service queue that we will tell you about today. From the first view, it looks like a very simple part of call center functioning - operators are busy, so you must wait a bit, and when your turn comes, you will be linked with the operator. What to discuss here? 

As it always is, even such obvious things as call queues powerfully influence the overall customer service department’s performance. The average number of calls in the queue, the quality of your call queue management, and the average wait time in the virtual queue influence such rates as customer satisfaction, agent productivity, and even operational costs. As the consequence, poor call center queue management leads the team to losses in service quality and productivity, as well as motivation decreases too. It is also a rhetorical question about how many clients would hang up the call and never come back if the queue time would be too lengthy. 

Thus, there is nothing wiser than improving management and decreasing call queueing to the rates that would be appreciated by clients, especially if taking into account that it isn’t that difficult to accomplish. 

To assist you in this task, we have written this guide. Prepare yourself - we are starting.

In this article you will find:

What is the call queue?

What is wrong with call queues?

Why do call queues become too long?

Call center queue management: which features are must-haves?

How to reduce the Average Time in Queue?

How call center statistics can help in beating long call queues

How we can help you to eliminate lengthy queues?

What is the call center queue? 

As we have mentioned in passing, the call center queue is the line where clients wait for the agent’s response if there are no available operators who may handle the call. According to its name, call queueing works simply: who calls first, takes the higher place in the row. Every subsequent call in the queue has to wait before his forerunners would be processed by agents, so the conclusion is clear: the longer the call center queue is, the more clients have to wait in it. 

The call queueing interface is always the same: you hear the pre-recorded messages, and keep waiting while the music plays in the background. 

The expectation of the service ends when your turn comes: you are advancing through the row only on two occasions: either the operator has processed the calls that have been higher in the row or the anticipators have left the row for some reason. 

What is wrong with call queueing? 

Now, when you are acknowledged of call queues and the nature of their utilization, it is time to discover why the poor management of the call queues may cause customer leavings, reduction in customer satisfaction rates, negative reviews, and many other “pleasant” consequences. 

As you could guess, no person in the world would like to sit and listen to boring music for a while. Sometimes, call queues are long, and this causes the time customers are in the row to grow, and here is the rock on which we split - for most people waiting even two minutes is disagreeable, while for some target audiences even 45 seconds of waiting is too long. 

Okay, no one likes waiting. But what are the consequences of a long waiting time for a call center? 

Firstly, you get the high abandonment rate - the awful thing to happen with any contact center, because it can be called a loss of a client. After all, you have no guarantees that after such bad service he would come back. 

Secondly, this situation may lead to a real loss of sales and existing customers, who would select to switch to another vendor, who would proved better assistance without a long waiting time. 

Clients may take it to heart when they stay in a row without a response - let’s be honest, it looks like the company puts too little effort to provide service, so clients aren’t the priority for it. So what are the arguments for clients to stay with such a firm?

Reasons for lengthy call queues 

Every problem has root reasons, and long call queues aren’t an exclusion. Many factors, both human and technological, influence the call queues, so to deal with them you have to know them ideally. We have put all potential nuances that may cause long call queues:

Peak hours and seasons 

All contact centers are acquainted with peak hours, and some industries have a big challenge to deal with customer attacks during peak seasons - it concerns some e-commerce niches that sell seasonal goods, industries, that are dependent on seasons like tourism or education, and so on. 

As the consequence, these businesses face an enormous boost in customer requests during peak periods, so their customer service team and technologies can’t deal with it. On the one hand, it happens because of a wrong agent scheduling, a lack of staff, and needed equipment, but on the other hand, such businesses just don’t need the bigger staff during most of the year, and such investments are too expensive for them. 

Finally, when the peak period comes, a company can’t deal with the influx of calls, abandonment rates rise, as well as many potential clients leave the firm because of poor service.

Lack of operators

Another reason for lengthy call queues is the small staff, which doesn’t suit the number of clients. In short, the average number of requests is always bigger than existing agents can process. 

This trouble has two different causes: either the contact center management tries to save every cent and pay as few salaries as possible, or agents are leaving because of burnout or attrition, which are popular problems for many contact centers. 

Extended handling time

This issue doesn’t bear any single specified cause - the call may take more time than it should for many reasons. Is it a chatty client, too complicated a problem to resolve, or just a lack of operator’s knowledge - all of these factors prolong the call queues. On the one hand, you can’t make the operator speed up the dialogue if the issue needs more than the average time to be tackled. Contrastively, if such occasions happen regularly, find the root cause - or the customers would leave because of long call queues. 

Old software tools

We have already stated that call queues are prolonged not only because of human imperfections but also because of technological issues. Outdated software sometimes just doesn’t have enough features to deal with customer expectations - when it has been developed, clients have been less demanding and the world has been a bit dissimilar from what it looks like now. 

Why enhancing call queue management features is vital?

We have already told you what awaits you if call queues would be too long, but what benefits can the call queue management offer instead of reducing the abandonment rate? Is it the limit of its opportunities?

Surely, not. Abandon rates are important if you want to reach high customer retention rates, and smaller customer churn, but such factors as customer service rates and customer satisfaction are boosted too. Customer experience and customer loyalty would be way better if you shorten the call queues. 

But let’s discuss every benefit in order.

Higher client satisfaction

The research states that even if the customer issue has been resolved, a longer average time in a call queue can decrease the overall level of customer satisfaction with the service. Thus, the longer client waits, the less he would be satisfied even if you will fulfill his request. 

The response time longer than 90 seconds influences the CSAT so powerfully, that the whole satisfaction level is lost, so the maximum wait time should be less than a minute. Isn’t this enough to think of reducing the call queues?

Boosted agent productivity

Imagine, what would the clients do if they reach call center agents after waiting for more than a minute in a row? Morale pressure or even real conflict is very likely. If this happens regularly, agents will get morale burnout, and the quality of their performance will decrease to almost zero rates. As the consequence, overall performance and service quality will be at the bottom. 

Decreased costs

When queues are an inseparable companion of the company, salary expenses grow to heaven. More agents to handle peak calls, more payments, still no efficiency. The way out is tackling the root cause - eliminate client lines, and you will be able to reduce staff or use a distinct workforce model that would save money. The right call queuing software would be a great assistant for this task. 

How to deal with the queues?

The sweetest part of our story begins here - now we have moved to the exact tactics and methods of reducing call queues, waiting times, and improving queue management. By operating various approaches and techniques, you can strongly decrease the number of calls in queue, reduce queue waiting time, boost customer service agent productivity, and improve customer experience. Now we will describe these methods in detail:


Workforce management is extremely crucial if you want to reduce operational costs and deal with peak hours. The right workforce strategy lets you select enough operators for peak hours, so there will be fewer clients who will stay in the queue. On the contrary, you can decrease the number of agents that will work before and after the peak periods, so the salary spending will reduce too. By the way, this model assists not only in saving money but in making agents more productive and happy because of comfortable agent schedules.

Interactive Voice Response (sometimes called a phone tree)

An irreplaceable tool for your call queue software is IVR, the solution that helps to deal with queues, decrease the abandonment rate, improve customer satisfaction and provide a more adorable customer experience. 

Another vital option is IVR’s opportunity to provide customer self-service options, so numerous routine calls that don’t need the qualified agent assistance of an operator may be resolved during interacting with the IVR software. How does it work? The customer calls the customer service support digit, afterwards he hears the greeting and is offered a few menu sections related to the various issues and cases, such as billing, discounts, previous interactions, and so on.

While surfing the IVR menu sections, clients can solve numerous issues and get answers to many potential questions. Here is the short checklist of potential features of an IVR:

  • Checking balance
  • Verification options
  • Changing personal data, such as passwords, PINs, etc.
  • Shipping details (date, status, payments)
  • Confirming payments
  • Previous interactions reports
  • Customer surveys, reviews
  • Products listing
  • Discounts
  • Customer service connection
  • Sales department linkage

And this is not a finished list, you may operate IVR for almost any purpose. Two significant features should be described in more detail: voice recognition and callback. The first one allows the system to recognize customer queries and sayings, so the needed section will be offered not only according to the selected pads but based on what the client is talking about. The IVR callback is an irreplaceable feature in the case of a queue calling system as it proposes a new option for the inbound callers: if the queue is unsuitable for him, he orders a callback and gets a call when the first agent becomes available, so the precious time isn’t lost. This function allows people to avoid staying in queue and listening to custom hold music, or surfing the IVR for a few minutes.

Another important feature is intelligent routing, which lets IVR comprehend the nature of customer requests and link them with relevant agents via the Automatic Call Distribution system, who are specializing in related issues or have a specified skill pack. 

Skill-based routing

This approach has been mentioned in the IVR paragraph in passing, but let us discuss it at great length. Skill-based routing is vital if you want to furnish first-class customer service and avoid making a client repeat his appeal to various agents. 

It is not a secret that meeting the situation, when the agent is routing the call to the next operator because of a lack of knowledge or other reasons, is annoying. To bypass such a situation, skill-based routed calls to agents exist. It works based on specified routing rules, written and implemented by the manager. When the rules are all set, incoming calls will be routed to the operators who have the most suitable skill pack to deal with the issues. 

For a sample, one group of agents will deal with technical issues, while the other will resolve refund and payment problems. 

SBR has many advantages, such as:

  • Decreasing AHT (Average Handle Time) - relevant agents will solve related problems, so the resolution time will reduce. 
  • Higher productivity and less coaching spending - as some agents now can deal with issues that are easier for them to tackle, they will not work with questions that do not relate to their skill set.
  • Provide more personalized and adorable assistance for high-net-worth clients - as some customers are more valuable to the business than others, like permanent buyers or big partners, they desire some special service, and SBR can link them to the best operators. 

Up-to-minute statistics and reports

Wide, detailed, and exact data is crucial to make thoughtful decisions and put changes into work processes, as well as find out imperfections and improvement areas in staff performance. On the contrary, such data lets you decrease costs, review strategies, and plans, and improve overall performance.

The queue number calling system should include such statistics functions as dashboards and reports. The first ones have to furnish you with up-to-minute information about KPIs, performance, and queue metrics, so you can see what is happening inside and outside the department. The second option, reports, should be customizable to fit your expectations and needs and contain all required information about agents’ performance, customer statistics, trends, and changes over time. 

Let people skip queues

One of the greatest call center solutions to deal with call queueing is allowing clients to skip the queue and go directly to voicemail or get information about other self-service options. Such options should be organized on all possible contact center platforms that suit your target audience - social networks, webchats, chatbots in messengers, email, and so on. Remember that there is always a huge percentage of people who prefer to solve their problems on their own without reaching a living support representative, so offering such an opportunity is a double-edged sword - you give clients what they expect, and reduce the load on agents at the same time. 

Let operators take more responsibility

Sharing the KPI and performance data with workers may motivate them to perform better and do their best to reach higher rates. Let them see their queues of inbound calls too, so the operators will know when it is better to speed up, and when they can spend more time solving the problems of one customer. Don’t be scared to let the agents take more responsibility, because it is the only way to boost their performance and make them real professionals in the customer service industry. 

Main edges of operating the stats in the contact centers

We have decided to put this information into a separate paragraph, as many contact center managers underrate the significance of stats for the contact centers. Some team leaders prefer to measure it on their own, while others think that KPIs or some call center metrics just don’t have any valuable influence on the department’s performance. 

It is a mistake to think in this way. Every metric points to a significant part of the work process, and can warn about problems in contact center management or with agents’ skills and knowledge. The managers who know how to fix such moments can easily beat any issues in their organizations, while others can’t find the root reasons for performance problems. 

Here is the checklist of stats benefits: 

  • See the entire image - while some rates may be high, you can fail to see some problems that are developing at the moment. Maybe, you had many sales in the last three months, but the agent idle time grew, and now it is a 99,9% of probability that your scores will fail this month - but without real-time stats, you have little chance to find it out. 
  • Control every process in live mode - in our industry, big trouble may happen in a few minutes. Technical problems, an unexpected tonne of calls during non-business hours, a few angry customers at the same time - these things can’t be prevented, so live-mode monitoring lets you be if not ready, but acknowledged of them. 
  • Training opportunities - with statistics and call center quality assurance you see where every agent is doing well, and where he needs to improve or just a bit of motivation. This eases the process of selecting and preparing training plans and resources.
  • Find new opportunities - when analyzing the stats over time, you can discover the trends and potential growth methods for the business.
  • Keep workers in shape - when employees know that their performance is permanently measured, they are more willing to work harder and perform better. 
  • Boost customer experience - the vital part of the call center’s work is providing excellent customer service, so the analytics and reports help you to find out where it can be improved to suit more customer expectations and wishes. 

How can we help in dealing with call queues?

VoIPTime call center solution has many options that can greatly support you in tackling call queueing. Our solution easily deals with call queues thanks to advanced IVR that works in pairs with modern ACD technology. We have developed a more adorable and effective priority-based routing, that offers even better performance than the older skill-based one, that we use for live chats. Priority-based routing allows you to provide service for permanent and high-net-worth customers with incredible speed, as well as select priority for every call queue for the agent group, and distribute calls between agents in accordance with their priority. This is the most flexible and useful routing type on the market.

Our ACD system has an option to route calls from the queue not to the voicemail, but directly to another outsourcing call center to furnish clients with really personalized and customer-oriented service. 

The reports and analytics options are also powerful: we offer real-time dashboards that allow you to see all information about call volume and detect peak hours and low-unload periods to improve agent scheduling. The strong function is the SL report - an hour-by-hour report that shows all info about calls during the work shift - duration, total calls, percentage of answered calls, abandonment rate, service level, overall efficiency, and average wait time. 

Want to learn more of our call queue time reducing features?

Contact us to discuss your needs and see Voiptime Contact Center in action!

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, analyse site traffic, personalize content, and serve targeted advertisements. Read about how we use cookies in our Privacy Notice.

Customer Contact Central