Are Call-Backs the Missing Piece in Your Call Center?

Call Center | 3 minute read

A live human conversation is a powerful thing. Despite all the innovation in the world of customer service, studies keep showing us that there is an enduring appeal to phone calls. That’s not to say we should be complacent about how we deliver that phone call experience. Call centers should strive to remove as much friction as possible from the process of connecting callers with agents. That’s where call-backs come in. The simple act of replacing hold time with a call-back could be the missing piece in boosting your call center’s performance.

Phone Calls Remain an Important Draw

A recent study asked 1,138 US-based consumers about their views on customer service. (We included it in our latest round-up: 4 Insightful Contact Center Reports You Should Be Reading.) Among their conclusions was yet another confirmation that phone-based service remains critical. Quoting analyst Blair Pleasant: “Despite the prediction that the phone is dead, especially for millennials, the survey found that 54% prefer to interact with a company over the phone when they need customer service. What’s really interesting is that this is true regardless of age.” (Thanks to Five9 for commissioning the study.)


Channel Preference by Age


This seems counter-intuitive in light of all the attention given to new channels like chat, messaging and social media. Those trends are real and the coverage is justified, but it’s important to keep the bigger picture in perspective. There are around 40,000 contact centers in the US handling 190 billion minutes of inbound calling (via ContactBabel). No other channel of communication has this scale and ubiquity.

Another way to make sense of the dichotomy between new-channel excitement and old-channel realism is to remember that channel adoption is not the same as channel usage. The image below is from analyst Esteban Kolsky, who focuses on that point in this post. You’ll find that studies often ask companies or consumers what channels they are using, but that question can be misleading. For example, If you’ve used social media once to contact a company you could say to the surveyor “yes, I use that channel” but that would be overstating its importance.


Channel Adoption Over Time graph


Where Call-Backs Fit In

Alright, so we’ve established that the voice channel isn’t going away. How does this connect with call-backs? Once you accept the fact that phone calls will be a critical part of your customer service strategy, it’s only logical that investing in that channel is a smart move. You want to find ways that reduce the friction between agents and callers.

You want to eliminate the frustrations that normally plague the call centre experience. Replacing hold time with a call-back checks off all those boxes. It’s the closest thing to a “magic bullet” that you’ll find in the call center world.

4 Ways that Call-Backs Improve Your Call center

1) Boost Customer Satisfaction – Customers rank “waiting on hold” as one of their biggest customer service complaints, so eliminating it will obviously increase satisfaction. If you measure client happiness – Net Promoter Score (NPS), repeat visits, repeat purchases – you can expect to see improvement.

2) Reduce Abandon Rates – Callers will simply hang-up if they are left on hold too long. Abandonment leads to higher repeat calling (which can strain the call center system) and, of course, frustrated customers.

3) Reduce Telco Cost – Normally, when a caller is waiting on hold, there is a phone line being kept open -which is being charged to your telco bill on a per-minute basis. With call-backs, the line doesn’t have to be active until the agent is available.

4) Smooth-Out Spikes – Most call centers have some type of call volume spike. If you staff to the peak volume, you will have excess agent capacity at other times. Call-backs “smooth-out” spikes in call volume by deferring calls till a time when there is more agent capacity.


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If you’re interested in exploring this option, sign-up for a Fonolo demo to see how we can help!




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