How to Reduce Hold Time in a Call Center in 1 Swift Action


There are a lot of ways you can reduce average hold times in your call center. Some involve complicated, multi-step processes that require a ton of effort and take a while for you to see results. Those are solid strategies to implement—if you have the time to wait for changes to happen.

But If you want to see nearly instant results, there’s a single strategy you can implement right now. It involves two core components in your call center—call groups and call routing rules. Change these two things up today and you’ll be seeing shorter hold times right away.

Rework Call Groups and Call Routing Rules to Reduce Hold Time

It’s inefficient when a caller isn’t sent to the right agent the first time. When an agent answers a call but is not equipped to help the caller, lots of hold time usually follows. The caller goes back into the hold queue while the initial agent finds a different agent who can help. The caller sits in the hold queue and waits until the correct agent is available and can take their call.

That’s a lot of waiting and potential caller frustration.

When your call groups and call routing rules aren’t well-structured, your customers end up on hold. That’s the bottom line. No matter how great your hold music is, callers don’t appreciate being put on hold over and over again.

But before we dive into the details of fixing your call groups and routing rules, here’s a quick review of the basics.

What are call groups?

Call groups are predetermined groups of agent extensions or phone numbers. Incoming calls get automatically routed, depending on caller needs and based on the options a caller selects when their call is answered by an IVR. 

Putting agents together in the right groups significantly impacts call center performance and customer satisfaction in a good way.

The right agent answers the call the first time. Callers usually get their issue resolved without being transferred and waiting on hold again. Your call center metrics improve, and so does caller satisfaction. It’s a win for everyone.

Incoming calls are routed most efficiently when your call groups are aligned with your business needs. For example, grouping agents by knowledge areas, skill sets, or departments is a more effective strategy than organizing agents alphabetically or some other arbitrary way.

When your call groups are haphazardly put together, callers end up in long queues waiting for an agent to answer their initial call. Then, if the answering agent can’t solve the problem, the caller goes back into another queue waiting for a knowledgeable agent to take over.

That’s a lot of unnecessary waiting and potential customer frustration. It will show in your call center metrics, too.

What are call routing rules?

Most modern call centers use a combination of Interactive Voice Response system and Automatic Call Distributor (ACD). The two work in tandem to ensure callers get to the right agent at the right time. 

In your call center, your predetermined call routing rules are the key to making these time-saving tools work. 

We’re all familiar with these systems. Virtually every business and government office uses them. The days of calling a company and getting a real person answering our call are long gone.

So how do call routing rules work? 

When a call comes in, where that call gets sent depends on the predetermined rules or conditions you have set up. For example, the automated system prompts the caller to press “1” for sales, “2” for customer service, or “3” for help with a specific product. These are the options initially set up when the IVR and ACD systems were put in place. They are easily modifiable as needs change.

When your IVR call routing rules are set up well, an incoming call goes to the correct agent the first time. The caller gets their concern resolved and everyone is satisfied.

But when rules don’t match your business needs, the opposite happens. Callers end up talking to an agent who cannot help them for whatever reason. The caller gets put back into another hold queue waiting to get rerouted to an agent who can help them. Oftentimes, the caller gets fed up with a long hold time and hangs up. 

This can be avoided if your rules are set up for maximum efficiency in the first place. But don’t worry if you have call center rules that are not aligned with your current needs. It happens all the time. Business needs evolve, and modifying these rules to keep up is an easy fix.

Why you should try this strategy first

You may be wondering why you should try this strategy before some of the other solutions like setting up a smart IVR system or training agents. These strategies are, after all, tried and true ways to reduce call center hold times. 

These solutions, while great and a necessary part of any successful call center, are also more complex to implement. It also takes more time to see results. With these strategies, you’re playing the long game.

We like to implement the simple solutions first—the ones that deliver almost immediate results.

Adjusting call routing rules and reassigning call groups do just that. 

Restructuring call groups efficiently distributes incoming calls to the right agents the first time. Agents are grouped by traits that make sense (knowledge, skills, department), making it easier to send specific calls to agents most likely to be able to resolve issues quickly.

Changing your call routing rules works in tandem with properly organized call groups. Once you have the right groups set up, updated call rules maximize the chance that callers will get to the right group the first time. 

The result is that agents can help them right away. It reduces unnecessary hold time and increases caller satisfaction. 

Both these strategies immediately increase the chances of you seeing a recognizable drop in hold times. Once you have these two things dialed in, you can further reduce hold times and boost caller satisfaction with some of the more complex, long-term solutions.

How to rework your call groups and call routing rules

Before you implement any solution, you need to do a bit of research.

Start by reviewing your current call group setup to see how groups are structured. Does the structure make sense? Sometimes you’ll be able to see right away what is wrong. You can then quickly fix it.

If it isn’t obvious how your groups need tweaking, you can look at key call center analytics to figure that out. Things like average call handling time, average hold time, and transfer rate will give you a pretty good idea if your groups are set up in the most efficient way possible.

Then it’s time to figure out why callers are being placed on hold. Is there a recurring issue that only a certain agent (or small group of agents) can resolve? Are calls being routed incorrectly in the first place? 

Call center analytics can help you with this, but you should also get feedback directly from your agents. They are best-positioned to know the common issues they get and whether those issues require them to transfer calls regularly.

Once you know the source of the issue, you can implement effective changes.

Start with your call groups. Identify the call groups that require tweaking, and reassign agents among them as needed. Take a look at the final grouping assignments and make sure they match call center needs. 

For every call group you have, you should be able to identify why the group exists and who should be in it. If a group exists that has no “why,” the group should probably be deleted and those agents reassigned.

Once you have optimized your call center groups, it’s time to rework your call center rules. 

For example, let’s say you identified a common issue your callers have and then created a call group to address this issue. The agents in that group know the issue inside-out and can resolve it quickly.

You can add this common issue as a menu option for a caller to select. Once the menu option is in place, you can set up a simultaneous ring pattern so that all qualified and available agents are immediately notified once a caller makes that selection. 

Following these steps increases the chances of a knowledgeable agent answering an incoming call quickly and resolving the customer’s concerns in one shot. No unnecessary transfers and no extra hold time.

When it comes to updating your call rules, the more you understand about business needs and recurring issues, the better prepared you’ll be. When you know your business, you can tweak existing rules, delete any unnecessary ones, and add new ones that will help your call center run more efficiently.

You may need to scrap all your old rules and build from the ground up, but that is usually the exception. Most times, rules just need some tweaking to fix an issue. Either way, the work you do here pays off immediately with better customer experiences and improved call center metrics.

How to measure success

It’s never a good idea to make changes and simply hope for the best. 

Once you have your call groups and rules worked out, it’s time to test your IVR system for functionality. How you test it is up to you and dependent on your available resources. The options are to use an automated testing tool, do it manually with a select group of agents, or a combination of both.

You should also do an analytics comparison. Go back and review hold times from before you made changes to call groups and rules. Then track hold times over several weeks after you make these changes to see how your data compares to that earlier data.

Numbers don’t lie. If you’re not seeing the results you want, make adjustments until you get the desired outcomes.

Source link

You might also like