Investing in a call-back solution is a strategic way to lower abandon rates, smooth out spikes in call volume, improve the customer experience and lower telco costs. When implemented correctly, companies can quickly realize a positive ROI.
Call-back technology covers a broad spectrum. At the call center, “virtual queuing” or “virtual hold” allows callers to replace hold-time with a call-back. On the web, “click to call” or “click to call-back” makes it possible for customers to trigger a call-back, from an agent, directly from a company’s website. And “mobile click to call” or “tap to call-back” extends this same functionality to the mobile phone.
Given the many ways companies use call-backs, there’s not a single one-size-fits-all approach for all call centers. But there are a number of key ways companies can maximize the benefits of call-back technology.
1. Set Appropriate Trigger Levels for the Call-Back Offer
For call centers that have low ASA (average speed of answer) times, it’s not generally necessary to offer a call-back. But when sudden spikes in call volume occur (due to marketing events, service-related or weather issues, etc.), hold times can rapidly escalate. In these cases, informing callers about a call-back option (e.g. “Press 1 to get a call from the next available agent, and we’ll hold your place in line”), and encouraging them to accept it, can make a world of difference to customer sentiment.
There are different ways to trigger the call-back offer. For example, many companies will play the offer when hold times are above a certain threshold (determined by their service level targets), so the call-back becomes a sort of insurance policy, only kicking in when needed.
However, if callers abandon before that threshold is reached, they’ll never hear the offer and you’ll risk losing their business. In this case, offering a call-back in advance of the abandonment time is a better approach. For example, if customers abandon at the 60 second mark, you may want to offer them a call-back within 30-40 seconds to coincide with their growing frustration level.
Finally, keep in mind that many callers don’t respond to a call-back offer the first time. Because of this, a best practice is to make the offer early – and often, repeating it at regular intervals during the hold process.
2. Prepare Agents for the Call-Back Process
This is as simple as it sounds: make sure agents are prepared to receive the call-back.
Call-backs can be “agent-first” or “customer-first”. In the agent-first scenario, agents receive the queued call before the customer is called back. Generally this is preferred by callers, who answer their phone to find a live agent on the line. It does require agents to acknowledge the call, e.g. by “pressing 1 to be connected now”.
By contrast, customer-first call-backs differ in that customers are called back while their call is still queued, meaning they’ll still have to wait on hold after answering the phone. This can save time for agents, however it can also result in longer handle times, as customers often vent their frustration about having to wait on hold for a second time.
Regardless of the scenario, the key to a successful implementation is proper agent training.
3. Offer Call-Backs to Your Customers on Their Preferred Channel
I often ask clients where their call volume originates from. Do callers phone the call center after finding the number on a website, or via social media? If the client has a mobile app, do their customers reach out after experiencing self-service limitations on the app?
If the interest in call-back technology is to improve the customer experience, then it’s important to offer a call-back from the customer’s preferred channel – especially if that’s web, social or mobile. After all, it’s a huge step backward for customers on these channels to phone a contact center and wind up on hold. (And, those are the same customers who will take to Twitter to publicly vent about the poor experience.)
Offering customers a call-back directly from a website or mobile app allows them to escalate to voice directly from their preferred channel, while allowing them to avoid having to wait on hold.
When it comes time to implement a call-back solution, make sure you work with a vendor that understands the requirements of your business, so you can maximize your success.