Friday, November 16, 2012

Queue Position or Estimated Time to Answer – Which is Better?

By: Colin Taylor

We recently asked this question and thought that it was worth sharing. Let me know whether you agree with the response and how you would handle this issue in your contact center.

Here is the question: “ What is your position on announcing what # ‘in line’ a customer is through the IVR? Or announcing current hold time?”

As background to your question -Customers want what we want and they want to be answered quickly. Now customer cannot tell the difference between 20 and 30 seconds on an ASA, but they can tell between 20 seconds and 5 minutes.

No the answer to the question is unfortunately it depends. It really does depend primarily on two variables,:

• Your SLA performance

• You AHT

If your Service level performance is consistent and callers receive approximately the same service performance regardless of the hour of the day or day of the week that they call then the announcement of place in queue (#) or estimated time to answer would both be quickly accepted by customers. This acceptance is driven by the relatively narrow variance in the queue position or time to answer due to the consistency of SLA achievement or performance. It would likely be perceived positively as it provides more information and keeps the customers informed.

If you have consistent SLA performance and short calls (AHT) than a time to answer is preferable as 4 minutes will sound shorter than “you are 5th in queue”. At the same time if the calls are longer, like tech support calls with an 8 -10 AHT then the position in queue (5th call) sounds shorter than 22 minutes.

If the SLA performance is not consistent and/or has radical swings then you may want to avoid either option altogether. Customers know they are calling a call center and while they do not expect an instant answer, they do have a perception in their mind as to how long they should have to wait. This perception is tied to the brand, brand persona, their history with the organization, the value and cost of the product or service, the effort (customer effort) that they need to expend to reach a live agent and their own mood.

If you have both options available to you, you may also have ‘hold in queue’ which is a feature that allows customers to be given the option of leaving a call back number and being called on that number when it is ‘their turn’. This service generally gets great reviews from customers because there is seldom specific urgency ( I have to call now an not in ten minutes) for a customer call, but once they have invested time into the process they get frustrated by the delay. By offering them the option to hang up and go about their business, without losing their place in queue in their minds eliminates that ‘hold’ or queue time altogether.

Let us know how you would answer this question.

Read more about call center operations

via The Taylor Reach Group - Call Center Consultants

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