Virtual queuing is a concept used in inbound call centers. Call centers use an Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) to distribute incoming calls to specific resources (agents) in the center. ACDs hold queued calls in First In, First Out order until agents become available. From the caller’s perspective, without virtual queuing they have only two choices: wait until an agent resource becomes available, or abandon (hang up) and try again later. From the call center’s perspective, a long queue results in many abandoned calls, repeat attempts, and customer dissatisfaction.
WHAT DO CALL QUEUES DO?
Call queues are used to route calls in a first-in/first-out manner to the appropriate agent. These agents can be logged into the system via an extension. Call Queues are commonly used with an ACD, where the callers hear an announcement similar to “thank you for calling, all available agents are busy, please hold for the next available agent, or press 0 to leave a message”. When an agent becomes available the call is routed to that agent. There are several routing options for call queues including: ring all, round-robin, least recent, fewest calls and random. These routing options ensure you fairly distribute calls across all agents in a queue. Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) is used to route calls in a call center environment to the appropriate agents, based on factors such as time availability, behavior, and priority levels.
WHAT DOES ACD QUEUE DO?
Automatic Call Distribution Queue (ACD Queue) is one of those oddly worded terms that manages to make its way into almost any industry, especially technology-based industries. While it sounds odd, it gets simple when you can understand it in simple terms – it’s a system in the PBX that allows customers to be put on hold until someone in the call queue can take their call. It’s referred to as a queue because it holds the callers’ places in line, each being answered in the order they were received. Automatic distribution is because nobody in has to manually connect the busy line, so as soon as there’s an available phone line the caller is automatically connected to the next agent.
But simplifying the ACD queue like that doesn’t really give full credit to what a properly built system is capable of, and how much effort goes into the little details. A robust ACD queue is critical for any office of more than three people. First, the system has to know which extensions can take which kind of call – so that if someone presses ‘one’ for sales, they actually get to the sales department. Call queues at Carolina Digital Phone can have music while in the call queue or a recorded message the caller can listen to while waiting. If the call queue has too many callers for the regular sales team to handle, the administrator of the system can decide whether additional calls go to voicemail or are routed to another call center, keep waiting until someone is available. Who gets calls in which order when there’s not a backlog of people waiting is also a standard option, so that the system will either balance the workload evenly or prioritize who gets calls based on the owner’s preferences and needs. All of these options are standard in Carolina Digital Phone’s ACD call queue at no additional cost.
There are, however, a great many companies that say they provide a ‘queuing service’ that do not actually provide ACD queues. These simple replacements are referred to in the industry as ‘hunt groups’, because all they do is take a list of extension and attempt to call each one until it gets an answer or gives up. The quality of these hunt groups varies wildly. Some will simply ring through each extension from the one listed first until the last until someone picks up and is transferred to voicemail. This not only means that the first person is always busy while the last is rarely busy, but it also means that the caller has to wait on hold before being connected while busy phones are being called. A real ACD call queue would be able to tell which lines are in use in advance, thus cutting down on this wait time dramatically.
Our call queue has a number of distribution options:
- Ring all phone extensions in the distribution list
- Ring Least recent Agent
- Ring Agent that has had the fewest calls
- Ring a Random Agent in the list of extensions available
- Round Robin, Start first, ring the next and then start all over again