average time in queue

As a call center manager, it can be difficult to track call center KPIs and make data-driven decisions accordingly. The next step — optimizing those KPIs — can feel overwhelming. In this post, we’ll be exploring average time in queue – what it is, what it means and how to optimize it.

What is average time in queue?

Simple. It’s the average amount of time your customers wait in a call center queue — from the moment they enter the queue (after the push their last Interactive Voice Response prompt if you have one) until their call is answered by one of your agents. This is a very important call center KPI. Call center managers must always be working to keep average time in queue as low as possible.

Why is average time in queue important?

This call center metric is directly tied to customer satisfaction. Think about it. No one wants to waste time waiting in a queue. The whole reason customers are calling is because they want immediate support and answers.

Average time in queue is also directly related to call abandonment rates. That is, how often callers lose hope and hang up the phone before speaking with an agent. This is important because 34% of callers who abandon, never call back. Abandonment rates are therefore tied to customer churn. Further, lengthy call queues can have an effect on first call resolution, as angry customers are less likely to be cooperative and communicate effectively with agents.

Of course, the acceptable average time in queue varies by industry, caller type and the reasons callers are reaching out. Keep in mind your call center’s context and caller types and set goals accordingly.

What contributes to lengthy call center queues?

Very often, lengthy call center queues are related to suboptimal staffing. The obvious reason would be that your call center is understaffed. There just aren’t enough agents to field calls. Another explanation would be long handle times, which means that each call is taking longer than expected. This could be resultant from unqualified agents or complicated questions from callers related to a product issue.

Another huge contributing factor is outdated or non-customer-centric call center software that is standing in the way of call center agent efficiency. Advanced call center software features enable agents to reduce call time by displaying comprehensive customer information before agents answer the call. Also, call disposition codes and notes and automatic synchronization with integrated CRMs, helpdesks and other business tools reduce after call work.

How can I reduce average time in queue in my call center?

There are numerous methods for improving this call center KPI. Here are a few:

1. Optimize your call queue configuration

Test your system to see if you can detect inefficiencies in how it’s configured. Make sure that your IVR is set up in an intuitive way so that callers are able to get through the prompts quickly and to the right queue. Create specialized queues for teams and agents so that waiting time in the queue is kept to a minimum.

2. Configure your call queue settings and features

Cutting edge call center software solutions offer a number of features to help optimize call queues and reduce time in the queue. These may include:

  • Queue callback: This provides callers with the option of exiting the queue and waiting for an agent to reach out to them
  • Queue to voicemail: This gives callers the option of leaving a voicemail rather than waiting in line
  • Maximum queue size: This call center software feature directs callers to voicemail when a certain volume of callers is reached; this helps to reduce excessive wait times
  • Waiting time limit: When a caller has been on the line for a certain amount of time without being served, s/he will be directed to voicemail

3. Empower agents to monitor their call queues

Instruct your call center agents to keep track of the number of calls in their queue and average wait time. Encourage them to make adjustments to their interactions with callers to improve their KPIs, such as trying to spend less time on calls when average time in queue is above a certain threshold.

4. Staff appropriately

Adjust the size of your team based off of predicted call volume, particularly around peak times such as holidays. You can use call center software with historical data or workforce management to help you refine your call center staffing approach.

5. Implement a customer-centric call center software solution

Invest in a modern call center software solution that can help you and your team meet the needs of your customers by offering advanced call center software features.

Invest some time in exploring your call center’s average time in queue and the factors that may be contributing to it. This is an essential call center KPI that can have a profound impact on customer satisfaction.

If you’d like to learn more about what cloud-based call center software can do to help you analyze and optimize this and other call center KPIs, request a Talkdesk demo today.