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TASKE Technology's Call Center Blog

The systems that we use in our call centers are feature-rich to help us maximize the opportunities to keep operations efficient, particularly those that directly affect our response to customers. One of the most commonly‑used of these features is the ability to re-queue calls. Simply put, a re-queue occurs when a call is sent to an agent who can’t answer it within a few rings. Because you don’t want the customer to wait until that particular agent is available, the unanswered call is placed back in the queue to be answered—ideally—by an agent who is currently available or one who is available next.

The Good

For your callers, re-queues are meant to connect them to available agents as quickly as possible, which contributes to high customer satisfaction and low abandon rates. For your agents, re-queues help reduce distractions when they’re still working to close current calls.

The Bad

Let’s look at a re-queue from the perspective of your customers. Some issue related to your product or service means that customers are likely somewhat annoyed before they even start to dial your number. After waiting in queue, when the call finally starts to ring at an agent, a customer may feel a sense of relief that at least they’ll be able to talk with an agent soon. A re-queue is the fastest way to dash that hope, sending the customer further down a spiral of frustration as they listen to the same in-queue message about how important they are to your business.  (Just as a tip, you may want to make use of features in your telephone system that give these callers higher priority in the queue over first-time callers.)

Unfortunately, calls may go unanswered for unjustifiable reasons. In some cases, agents may inadvertently forget to put their extensions in an unavailable state when taking short breaks, such as going to get coffee. A simple reminder to agents about this practice may be all that’s required to lower the number of re-queues.

In other cases, re-queues may be higher than necessary because agents aren’t motivated to answer calls. Sending a call somewhere else is as simple as not answering it when chatting with another agent or using a personal mobile device to browse the Internet or make personal calls. While the causes of this lack of motivation may range from inadequate training for some agents to outright system abuse, it’s a behavior that you need to address and change.

To help mitigate the more blatant negative behaviors behind unanswered calls, educate agents that they are accountable for their contribution to call center service levels. For example, make agents aware that their number of re-queues during shifts is tracked. Agents make act more responsibly if they know that their re-queue rate is compared and evaluated against other agents over the same timeframe. Ensure you discuss reasons for the re-queues. There may be a justifiable reason such as their after-call work timer is not enough time for an agent to perform all required paperwork for a call before moving to the next.

Now that we’ve looked at the benefits of re-queuing and how to address any misuse, let’s look briefly at where you’ll see value in measuring re-queues:

  • during real-time monitoring. For example, monitoring the number of re-queues over the past hour helps you keep an eye on whether the current real-time activity is acceptable, and helps you correct issues as soon as possible.
  • when reporting on a variety of resources, including individual queues or agents, and queue or agent groups. As we’ve already mentioned, there’s value in comparing the number of re-queues for an agent or queue to others with similar responsibilities. As well, reporting on this statistic over time is important to see whether there’s a changing trend or pattern that you should be aware of over longer periods of time.

Re-queuing calls is an important way to ensure that customers are answered as quickly as possible when conditions in the call center mean that they can’t be answered immediately.  Like any solution intended to provide benefit, re-queuing can be used in unintended and undesirable ways. However, with real-time monitoring and historical call reporting, you can identify where problems exist and take effective corrective action.

See you next month.

Tags: abandon rates, agent activity, agent productivity, call analysis, call volume, customer satisfaction, forecasting, real-time monitoring, reports, service levels, statistics, Training.

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