How virtual
hold technology
can boost

Author: Lauren McMenemy

Even in a world in disarray, the customer is still king—but customers are flooding call centers for help, only to be met with messages saying that help is unavailable because of an unprecedented number of inquiries.

Many customers are patient and understanding, given the circumstances, but 58% of customers prefer to call customer support to solve urgent issues, according to Accenture, and 90% of Americans consider their customer service experience when deciding to patronize a business. Pandemic notwithstanding, call center efficiency is a priority, as inefficient call centers risk driving customers to competitors. By deploying virtual hold technology or a queue management system, businesses can keep customers happy—and keep their business.

Long waits lose customers

Poor call center management compromises the customer's contact center experience. The problem could be a lack of properly skilled agents: According to HubSpot, 33% of customers say that waiting on hold for the next available representative is the most frustrating aspect of getting customer service help. It could also be improper routing: Another 33% of HubSpot respondents said that repeating information over and over to multiple support representatives was their biggest frustration.

Customers hate waiting and hate repeating themselves—and inefficient contact centers make them do both. Customers left hanging on the phone grow more frustrated with every passing minute. Make them wait too long, and they'll just hang up, leaving their issues unresolved. Leave enough of those issues unresolved, and a customer might not remain a customer.

Virtual technology, real fixes

Virtual hold technology and queue management systems are designed to streamline contact center workflows. They can adjust resources in response to changing call volumes and better manage traffic spikes to improve the customer experience.

When wait times are long, queue management systems let callers who meet certain criteria hang up and receive a callback once call volume has subsided. The caller is placed in a virtual queue and automatically receives a call when their turn comes up. Businesses can set a wait-time limit, after which the customer is placed into callback, and a limit on the number of callers in a virtual queue. Callers who stay on the line will see shorter wait times, which should reduce the rate of abandoned calls. And deferred calls from peak traffic times can help fill the troughs when new traffic is low.

For Forbes, Christopher Elliot writes that callback systems can also:

  • Connect customers to agents who already understand their issue
  • Cut time-to-answer and call abandonment rates
  • Reduce call length, as customers don't have to spend as much time explaining their problems
  • Reduce phone costs, because virtual queueing time does not incur telephone charges

Interest in virtual hold systems continues to grow: The value of the queue management market is projected to reach almost $619 million by 2027.

Deploying virtual hold technology can improve the customer experience and deliver a significant return on investment. Bain & Company asserts that businesses can grow revenues between 4% and 8% above their market when they prioritize the customer service experience.

Choosing the right system

Before examining your options, first identify the issues within your contact centers. Are your hold times too long? Do you lack the right information about your customers? Is agent availability inconsistent?

When vetting vendors, ask them about:

  • Total calls offered to the queue
  • Total calls handled by agents
  • Average handle time
  • Total abandons
  • Average answer speed
  • Agent staffing levels

Ask about analytics, too; a robust call queue management system will let you measure the success and efficiency of your contact center. You can gauge a virtual hold system's impact on the customer experience by looking at analytics such as average speed to answer, the abandonment rate and an increase in calls answered within service-level targets. You can also look at the customer satisfaction score and the net promoter score to measure a system's worth.

Queue management and voice callback technology can help improve contact center performance and help agents provide customers with a more efficient resolution process. When a call center's this efficient, everyone wins.

Find out how Verizon's Voice Call Back - Cloud services can empower your customers and upgrade their experience.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.