Customer wait times – expectation vs reality
What do you hate most about supermarket shopping? Probably waiting in a checkout queue.
And what do consumers hate most about calling a company contact center? You guessed it; according to most surveys, it’s waiting in a queue to speak to someone. In 2012, this study found that nearly 60% of callers wouldn’t wait on hold for more than a minute. And at five minutes, over 90% of them would hang up altogether. Things haven’t changed much since.
We know that long wait times are bad for business, leading to frustrated customers, and leading in turn to agent burn-out.
Consumers had a bit more patience during Covid lockdown, and cut call centers some slack. Since then, expectations have soared, but delivery is often still woeful – ‘We are experiencing unusually high call volumes’.
Why are consumers still having to endure this?!
For contact centers, it’s about supply and demand. There are plenty of ways to predict and schedule what should be the right number of agents. But without a crystal ball, incoming call volume is not accurately predictable, so other strategies are required, too.
1. Reduce call demand
- Look for ways to improve processes so that customers don’t feel the need to contact. I had to renew my passport recently, and the proactive email response from the UK Passport Office was outstanding, keeping me informed of progress every step of the way, and pre-empting any reason I may have had to contact them.
- Provide self-service options. Sure, they are all the rage and getting better. Can an online FAQ, or an IVR or chatbot provide the service required? Sadly, very often customers don’t get what they need through these channels, or would simply rather talk to a human. Best practice is always to offer a way to escalate to a live call.
2. Manage the customer in-queue
- Offer to call the customer back; customers will happily wait longer on virtual hold. Or have them leave a message, which can be responded to when agents are less busy.
- Announce the customer’s position in the queue, or expected wait time. Knowing where you stand prevents frustration.
- Identify priority customers (e.g. over 65) and route them to a queue that is answered quickly.
3. Squeeze more out of the agents you have
- Enforce schedule adherence? Yes, but reduces trust and autonomy, leading to greater attrition.
- Enforce shorter call handling times? Service quality declines, agents get more stressed, and attrition increases.
Hmmm – not one of our preferred options…
4. Increase agent supply
- Overflow to an external supplier, or a pool of part-time workers.
The key to reducing customer wait times is … automatic balancing
Having considered all these points it is tempting to think that supervisors can then step in, take a top level view and perhaps take additional actions such as moving customers between different queues, to see if they can improve response times to customers.
Intuitively a nice solution, but plain wrong! Yes wrong. Too many moving parts for a human to manage.
If we look at the media queues in a contact center, whether they be voice, email, chat and so on then the supervisor never knows best. Once you have specified SLAs for all queues and recorded agents’ skills, your software should be able to balance workloads across all queues. And, paradoxically, this might even mean giving preference to answering an email, rather than taking a waiting inbound voice call.
What We Offer
Sytel Limited develops and supplies Softdial Contact Center® (SCC) – multimedia, multichannel, fully blended cloud contact center solutions.
Available by subscription as CCaaS, fully managed and supported by Sytel, or for quick and easy deployment by partners and enterprise users.
All Sytel cloud components are secure, resilient and scale seamlessly from 10 agents to 10,000+, whether local, mobile or remote.
Flexible Contact Center Software
Softdial Contact Center™ – rich functionality, all-in-one, designed to deliver at scale
Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)
CCaaS for subscribers – global service, with no upfront costs
Contact Center Platform – CCaaS Partners
Build your own CCaaS business using the power and flexibility of Sytel software
Contact Center Platform – Enterprise
High performance platform to drive contact center productivity – cloud, on-premise or hybrid
Blended Media Desktop
Fully customisable, multi-channel, multi-session workspace
Browser-based tools, no software installation required
Customise, Localise, White Label
Design all user interfaces to individual requirements
Integration via APIs
‘Swap out’ components and integrate with 3rd party apps
World Class Development
Continuous evolution pushing technical boundaries
Softdial Contact Center™ (SCC) is designed to be flexible, extensible and scalable, integrating with any legacy equipment, and meeting the most complex of requirements.
All Media Channels
Voice, chat, email, social, etc – fully integrated and blended
Work with multiple live contact sessions of any media channel
Dynamic Workforce Management
Optimise agent usage and balance workloads in real-time without human intervention, across all media channels
Best-of-breed performance under compliance
Optimised Inbound Routing
Smart rules and ‘best-available’ decisions to drive great customer service
Help agents achieve and maintain excellence
Voice and Screen Recording
See and hear exactly how agents are interacting
Analytics and Data Feeds
Measure and evaluate performance at every level
IVR, Bots & Conversational AI
Design effective automated flows or integrate with 3rd party providers
Customer Journey Tracking
Stored customer contact history, to aid routing and add context to conversations
Drive operational efficiency, increase customer satisfaction & improve agent performance
Highly flexible unified web UI for agents, supervisors and administrators
Create complex process flow scripts for agents, IVR, chatbots and other applications
Sytel AI Dialer™
Maximum predictive dialing performance, under any compliance rules
Precise routing rules for ‘best available’ connection
Softdial Media Server™
Core telephony functions to manage all inbound/outbound SIP calls
Softdial Reporter™ 5
Fully customisable performance stats, charts and reports, across all channels
Comprehensive data output to build your own reports
Softdial Recording Monitor™
Audio and screen recording of agent activity to ensure the highest standards
Softdial Campaign Manager™
Automation to optimise any outreach strategy
Central storage and configuration of common resources
Sytel Global Compliance™
Flexible ‘no contact’ rules to protect contact center and consumer
Performance and efficiency for a wide range of business applications
By Business Type
A full featured contact center software solution, designed for optimum performance at scale
Small/ Medium Business
Options for SMBs to subscribe to our full-featured cloud service managed and hosted by either one of our partners or by Sytel themselves
Connect quickly to well equipped agents
Best-of-breed predictive dialing with CATI integration
Automated inbound/ outbound blending integrated with any debt management app
Sales & Telemarketing
Maximise agent productivity with best-of-breed predictive dialing
Secure, highly-configurable multichannel communications for excellence in patient care