How to give customers online visibility of call wait times
Peaks and troughs in call traffic have historically been considered something contact centres just have to deal with, through effective workforce management strategies. But what if the tables were turned and there was a way to smooth out those call arrival times in the first place? A simple technology interface now offers just such a solution.
It’s important to step back and understand that, on average, more than half of all visitors to an organisation’s website are looking for a phone number to call. Sometimes the phone number is hard to find, but more often than not, it sits on the contact us page or even the home page. A typical customer experience is that the visitor calls this number only to be put in a queue, where the wait times are either unknown – or advertised as long. What if the wait time were stated on the company’s home page or contact us page, and the customer could opt to receive an alert when the wait times dropped below a certain threshold? The two key benefits of this strategy are:
- improved customer experience
- reduction in “peaky” call traffic and associated costs and inefficiencies.
Convergence of Contact Centre and Digital silos
One of the reasons companies have not embraced this strategy already is that contact centre and digital stakeholders have operated in silos. Customer experience crosses many channels, and a siloed approach no longer stacks up in today’s hyperconnected world. Contact centre executives need to work closely with their online peers to leverage technologies and processes which put the customer at the heart – the technology which allows online visibility of call wait times is just one example, web voice synchronisation is another.
Features of an ideal Contact page
So let’s look at the features of an “ideal” home page or contact us page from the perspective of those many website visitors who are looking for your phone number.
- Customers should see the current waiting time – dynamically updated – in your call centre. Should they choose to call regardless of the wait time, at least they are less frustrated because their expectations have been set.
- If the wait time is long, the website should offer the customer the option to receive a reminder when the waiting time is shorter. Reminders can be delivered back to the customer’s desktop or via SMS alert / push to a mobile device.
- The site should also drive the customer towards self-service options – this will deflect some calls from occurring in the first place, and give the customer immediate gratification.
- If a major incident or outage has occurred, this should be posted on the home page and contact us page, again to answer the most common question(s) which might cause a call avalanche.
- If there is a wait time, the website can use this window to promote special offers which customers can click on / opt in to discuss with the call centre agent once available.
Benefits to the Contact Centre
From a cost and efficiency perspective, the contact centre benefits in variety of ways:
- Less manpower required with smoother incoming call patterns
- More efficient workforce management, including easier scheduling of breaks
- Call deflection to significantly cheaper self-service channels
- Supervisors are notified when their “waiting room” KPIs are exceeded (e.g. total calls in the waiting room, duration of wait)