Phone queues, or call queues, are virtual lines where callers wait to speak to an agent. Phone queues are used to handle incoming calls, particularly for customer support lines and call center environments where there is high call volume. As your business grows and the number of incoming calls also increases, call queues help you manage more callers with less agents.
When the phones are blowing up and everyone on the team is on a call, sometimes there just aren’t anymore hands available to answer another caller. This is where call queues can save you from losing callers and potential customers. Call queues place callers on hold until the next agent is available, where you can play hold music and custom announcements during the wait. As a customer-oriented business you don’t want to lose callers, so what the call queue does is place callers in a virtual holding line until an agent becomes available.
Telzio provides an easy web solution for setting up phone queues for your business. With Telzio Call Flows, setting up and managing phone queues for small and large call centers is easy and instant. Not only is setting up a phone queue easy to do, you also get live reporting and call analytics included.
This article will outline how to set up a phone queue with Telzio in a few easy steps. What we'll cover:
- Choosing phone numbers
- Managing queues via call flows
- Customizing phone queues
- Queue agents
- Best practices for call queues
- Call center analytics
Choosing phone numbers
The first step is to identify which of your phone numbers needs a queue. If you don't already have a number with Telzio, the first step would be to start by choosing a local, toll free, or international phone number, or porting an existing phone number.
Porting phone numbers to Telzio enables you to:
- create unlimited queues for your phone system,
- add an unlimited number of agents to the queue at no extra cost,
- and handle an unlimited number of simultaneous callers in queues.
The next step is to add the phone queue to a call flow.
Managing queues via call flows
Call flows are an easy, visual way to set up the features for your phone system. The call flow tells the system what to do with calls once they reach your phone number, whether it's to route them through an automated attendant, or route them directly to a queue.
An example of a call flow is shown here, where an incoming call reaches a phone menu, and the caller has three options to choose from that will route them to the appropriate queue.
Call flows are flexible and can be modified anytime through an intuitive online dashboard. Changes go live instantly, so you can add and remove agents on the spot as needed.
In addition to the queue, you can add a number of business phone features to the call flow, including:
- Business Hours
- Call Forwarding
- Phone Menu
- Company Directory
- Pay-by-Phone (Stripe integration)
You can arrange these features in your call flow any way you like.
Customizing phone queues
Once you've gotten started with a call flow, you can customize the settings for each queue.
- add agents to the queue,
- call all the agents at the same time (so the first to pick up gets the call),
- call the agents one-by-one,
- choose or upload hold music,
- record calls from the queue,
- announce the queue position to the caller,
- announce the hold time to the agent when they're connected,
- announce the queue name to the agent when they're connected,
- set a maximum hold time,
- set a grace period for agents (buffer time between calls), and
- mark the agent status (available / not available).
There's no limit to the number of agents you can add to a queue, and with Telzio, there's no cost to add agents / users.
Agents can sign in and out of queues on the Telzio dashboard, or simply by dialing *1 on their phone. Administrators can also go in and mark the agent as available / not available.
Agents can answer calls from the queue via:
Best practices for call queues
Here are some best practices to improve your call center interactions.
Best Practice #1 - Enable announcements for callers and agents
Giving callers an idea of their estimated hold time will improve the waiting experience, and informing agents of the resulting hold time and which queue the caller is from will allow them to answer the call more professionally.
What callers hear when they reach the queue:
Your call is next in line, and will be answered by the next available representative.
What agents hear when answering a call from the queue:
Call from sales. Hold time: under one minute.
Naming your queues lets agents know where the call is coming from and helps you identify queues in your Call Flow. Naming Queues is especially helpful for agents handling calls from different departments.
For example, incoming callers might first be greeted with a menu, with options for sales, customer service, or technical support. An agent can be assigned to all three of these queues, and will hear the appropriate announcement before they answer the call.
Best Practice #2 - Play hold music and on-hold messages
Playing hold music will make the caller's hold time more pleasant, and it also lets them know that they are still active in the queue. With Telzio you can upload custom audio files, enabling you to play custom music as well as on-hold messages.
For example, you can let the caller know about other ways of getting in contact for support (email, chat, etc.) if they've called into the technical support queue. Or, if they've called into the sales queue, you can take that opportunity to promote your product.
Best Practice #3 - Set a maximum hold time
On average, callers will only wait up to 2 minutes before they hang up. However, if the call is urgent, the caller will hold for much longer. Finding the best max hold time to set for your call center will require you to analyze your queue metrics. Based on our research, we recommend a max hold time of 5 minutes.
Once the hold time is exceeded, you can route the call to any of the other call flow features - a voicemail, forwarding to another number, etc. You could even route the call to an announcement saying "we are currently experiencing a high number of calls, please continue holding, or reach out to us by email", and then route them back to a queue.
Best Practice #4 - Set a grace time for agents
The grace time is the number of seconds the system will wait before routing another call to an agent. This allows the agent to wrap up the case from the previous call, make any notes, and be prepared to take the next caller.
Call center analytics
Telzio provides insight and data into your queue metrics via:
The live call report displays calls activity in real time, enabling call center managers to monitor calls on the spot.
Call analytics enables you to filter by date and queue, so you can narrow down reports and teams to evaluate performance.
Queue metrics you'll receive include:
- Average time in queue
- Average call duration
- Total number of calls
- Number of calls hung up by caller
- Number of calls that exceeded the hold time
- Top active users
Support for your call center
Our experts are standing by to answer all your questions about enhancing your caller experiences with our call center features. Whether you're an advanced or first time administrator - we can help. Small and large call centers around the world rely on Telzio for unprecedented uptime and customer service.
Jennifer is part of the content marketing team at Telzio, providing insight and tips on how Telzio can be used to optimize business communications and customer service.