After replacing a standard PBX phone system with a software based PBX (3cx) for a client who owns a tourism accommodation property, we enabled Call Queues for the incoming phone calls.

After a few months of the Call Queue being operational, the operators of the property believed that the Call Queue was resulting in the reception staff slacking off and not picking up phone calls in a timely manner.

After a few more months the operator switched the system from a Call Queue to a Ring Group. As a result the callers listens to the ring tone until it is answered or after 3 minutes they are sent to voicemail.

I knew that there would be a jump in unanswered calls, but the increase in unanswered calls astounded me. There are days where there are more unanswered calls then the monthly total of unanswered calls from a prior month when it was configured as a Call Queue.

Not only have they lost the management and reporting of the incoming calls, they are also potentially loosing customers.

Queues for the incoming line have become the standard for a majority of businesses, as it places the caller in the queue. This allows you to engage the caller with with a custom message or stream music.

There has been a significant amount of research regarding the perception of time for callers waiting for a operator, the variables being music/message, ringing and silence. The research shows that engaging the customer with a message or music decreases the callers perception of time, eg someone who has been on hold for 45 seconds thinks they have only been on-hold for 30 seconds. However the standard ring or silence has the opposite effect, the callers perception of time is longer then what it has been, eg someone who is just listening to a ring tone for 1 minute thinks they have been listening to it for 1.5 minutes.

Other research that show that on-hold music or message increases caller retention and depending on the business it can increase sales.

In my view it is black and white. The results show that there are less unanswered calls when you set up the incoming line with a Call Queue, this will mean less frustrated callers, better customer service and importantly increased lead to sale conversion. With the right message it can also be a good up-sell tool.

Importantly with any system including phones. User education and frequent reeducation, putting in the right policies and procedures in place are necessary. Especially if the operators are your sales people and are liaising directly with your customers.

If your business is still using a standard PBX with no smarts, I recommend you look at your options. It could save you money in removing costly PSTN / ISDN lines and also provide you with reporting to hold the business and staff accountable.

Categories: ICT