Respect Your Clients - Don't Be Like the IRS

If you've learned anything from the IRS, it may be how not to approach customer service. Reports are that callers are waiting in queue for a long time and not getting through. Others are getting dropped. Then there are the busy signals. There's no reason that callers should be treated so poorly. Good call center software and an effective Interactive Voice Response (IVR) can mitigate some of these issues and keep your call center on track.

What can you do to make life better for callers? A few tools used sensibly can make all the difference:

  • Check that there are agents logged in to the queue. Your IVR builder should have the ability to verify there are agents logged in to a queue before dropping people into it. Occasional issues with scheduling, absenteeism, etc. can leave a queue unserviced on occasion. Nobody plans for it, but nobody likes sitting in an unstaffed queue for an hour, either. If the queue is empty, direct the call elsewhere, or play a message, or take a voicemail message. Just give the caller some feedback and direction.
  • Set the maximum number of queue members to a sensible number. If you have five agents working a 9-5 schedule, letting 1000 callers pile into a queue is nonsensical. Look at your average call time, the number of agents you're likely to have, and your calling day. Also keep in mind the number of inbound lines you have. It's better to keep a few free so overflow callers can leave a voicemail or hear a message. Again, it's better to give feedback than leave somebody guessing as to why you're not handling their call.
  • Give callers the option of leaving a message. If you have a voicemail box callers can leave a message in, give them that option. If there's some other place that might be better for them to call, give them that option, too. Good hosted ACD systems will have the option to punch digits while in the queue and branch based on those. Take advantage of that capability.
  • Let your callers hang up while holding their place in queue. Finally, the best option for many callers is to leave a callback number that holds their place in queue. Top quality call center software will let your callers leave a callback number. When their call arrives at the agent in turn, the agent can simply call the number and quickly reconnect with the caller. Your agent is there all day anyway. There's no need to have your caller tied to a phone for an hour. Give them their freedom. They'll appreciate it.

These are all things you can have in place at any time for unexpected bursts of calls as well as seasonal rises in demand. By making good choices when designing your call center and ACD system, you can make your callers much happier about calling you.