Many call center platforms today offer some form of call-back functionality. That means if your hold times are long, your callers have the option to get a call at a later time instead of waiting for an agent. These built-in call-back features work by holding the caller’s place in line (“virtual queuing”) so the total wait time is the same. You can think of this as “ASAP” call-backs.
Fonolo offers this flavor of call-back (to a huge variety of call centers), but we also offer a more advanced flavor, one that is rarely part of the built-in version: “Scheduled Call-Backs”. This flavor allows the caller to choose a specific time slot for a future conversation. This small change in strategy is deceptively powerful. In fact, we at Fonolo have come to think of it as a call center “superpower”.
Smoothing Out Spikes in Call Volume
Many call centers have peaks in call volume as a result of holidays, bad weather, special promotions, etc. “Spikey” traffic degrades the customer experience and drags down key performance metrics. When agents can’t keep up with calls, the Average Speed to Answer (ASA) grows. That drives up the abandonment rate, as callers get tired of waiting on hold. Long wait times also lead to frustrated customers who then take out their anger on the agents, raising average handle time and lowering agent morale.
Call center managers usually don’t want to staff up to cover the peak levels, because that would leave excess agent capacity during off-peak days. This is where call-backs can help. If you have a deficit in agent capacity during one period, but a surplus during another, you can use scheduled call-backs to defer calls to a later time. The basic effect is “smoothing out” the call traffic.
If you want a quantitative example of this, download our free eBook The ROI of Call-Backs for Your Call Center.
Repeating the distinction from the introduction: The call traffic reshaping effect only happens with scheduled call-backs. The more common ASAP call-backs are still a great tool for improving customer satisfaction, reducing abandoned calls and shortening handle times, but they lack this one power.
The Scheduling Interaction
Asking a caller to select a time slot during their original call does add a small burden to the process. But fortunately, customers still regard this option favorably because they perceive it as the call center catering to their needs. It’s really a win-win situation.
If the interaction begins on the phone, the time slot selection can be done through an IVR-style interaction. If the interaction begins on the web or mobile app, then time slot selection can look like the screen shot below, taken from a Fonolo Web Rescue deployment.
Setting Up Your Time Slots
The key to benefiting from scheduled call-backs lies with the selection and management of the time slots. Keep in mind that the capacity of your call center has to be shared between regular inbound calls and the scheduled call-backs. Also consider what’s going to happen at the end of the day: When does your call center stop accepting calls? When do agents actually log-off? What happens to calls on hold that can’t be handled? You want to make sure that you can honor the promised call-backs in each of the slots.
Fortunately, Fonolo makes it easy to manage your capacity and the time slots offered. In fact, the recent upgrade to our customer portal included a number of improvements in this area. See the video below for a peek:
Are You Ready for the Superpower?
Scheduled call-backs have all the advantages of regular call-backs (improvements in CSat, abandonment rate, handle times, etc.) plus the ability to defer excess call volume to a later time.
We think of this as a “superpower” because, even though you are dealing with the same number of calls and the same number of agents, you get better performance from your call center, and happier callers. On top of that, you are presenting to your customers something that feels like a luxury experience; they feel like you are really respecting their time.
If you’ve never tried call-backs in your call center – or if you have call-backs, but just the “ASAP” kind – it’s worth your time to look into scheduled call-backs.