How Does Virtual Queuing Technology Work?

Call Backs | 6 minute read

You’ve probably heard of  ‘virtual queuing‘ but what exactly is it?

What is virtual queuing technology?

Virtual queuing technology is the colloquial name for many virtual queuing solutions offered by Fonolo, many of the large contact center platforms, and VHT, a competitor to Fonolo. It’s the most basic type of call-back or virtual queuing technology you can choose.

The Benefits of Virtual Queuing Technology

Most of our content is focused on the benefits of call-backs and virtual queuing technology, so we’ll keep this as a quick round-up.

Customers prefer virtual hold to waiting on hold themselves. Offering your customers the option of queuing virtually dramatically reduces the abandonment rate.

  1. A virtual queuing option improves customer satisfaction.
  2. Virtual hold can naturally reduce average talk time, especially when call volume is high.
  3. Virtual queuing is a great way to reduce your Average Speed of Answer and maintain your agreed service level
  4. Agent satisfaction increases when you offer virtual queuing.
  5. Our customers describe their virtual queuing solution as ‘an all-around stress reliever’ for their contact center.
  6. Offering virtual queuing creates a premium ‘concierge service’ for your customers.
  7. Scheduled call-backs (like Fonolo offer) are the upgrade from virtual queuing and are the most cost-effective way of managing call volume spikes.

How does virtual queuing technology work?

Virtual queuing can be initiated in several ways, but the most common is what we call ‘Voice Call-Backs‘ or ‘virtual queuing,’ where a caller is offered the option to receive a call-back instead of waiting on hold.

Here’s the typical virtual queuing process:

  1. The caller is played an ‘offer message,’ which usually comes after hearing an Estimated Wait Time, and sounds something like, “Press 1 to receive a call back instead of waiting on hold.”
  2. If the caller decides they don’t want to wait on hold, they press ‘1’ to begin the virtual queuing process.
  3. Fonolo uses a SIP Trunk connection to step in and take that caller’s place in the queue. A SIP trunk is a very secure, direct connection that allows our little queuing bots to take a caller’s place in the queue without compromising experience or security. It also allows our bots to bypass any IVRs or firewalls — and we can use this to help you direct callers waiting in the queue.
  4. While the customer waits, they’re sent a text message or two to keep them updated about their status in the queue.
  5. When our little Fonolo bot reaches the front of the queue, it connects to the agent and tells them to press a button to call the customer back. That way, the customer isn’t made to wait twice.

Types of Virtual Hold

There are many virtual hold competitors, but they all work one of two ways. Virtual queuing can be executed in two ways: ‘FIFO’ and ‘Scheduled.’

First In First Out (FIFO)

The FIFO model is the oldest method. It provides a simple, convenient way for callers to hold their place in the queue without physically waiting themselves.

Typically, a FIFO system monitors the average hold time in the call queue and offers callers the opportunity to receive a call-back when they reach the front of the line, instead of waiting on hold.

If the caller accepts the offer, a virtual call is placed in the queue, and the caller can hang up the phone. The system monitors the call queue for virtual placeholders and automatically places an outbound call when they are near the front of the line. When the person answers, the system confirms they are ready before connecting them to an agent.

The method is called ‘caller-first’ virtual queuing because the customer is contacted and connected at the end of their virtual hold, rather than the agent getting connected and placing an outbound call to the customer.

Scheduled Conversations

Scheduled call-backs are a newer, smarter, and more powerful way to manage call volume in the contact center.

Instead of offering to take the caller’s place in the queue and inserting a bot to hold their position virtually, customers are offered a future time slot to receive a call-back. When that pre-agreed time arrives, the ACD system initiates the call-back as soon as it arrives.

There are three ways of offering your customers a scheduled virtual hold option:

Forecast-Based Scheduling

A forecast-based system is a potent tool for managing call volume surges. It relies on a robust workforce planning and demand forecasting system. This type of virtual queuing does come with the downside that the times offered aren’t always convenient for the customer.

Timer-Based Scheduling

Offering timer-based virtual queuing is customer-friendly because they receive the call-back after a set period, regardless of the queue’s length. The downside is that it can create bottlenecks if there is an unanticipated call volume spike or lack of agents to answer the call.

Calendar Scheduling

This is the most efficient system for both the customer and the call center and is the most reliable way to offer your callers the option of queuing virtually across the various channels, like your mobile app, that we all now use.

It relies on some forecasting to block out the busiest times of the day and work out how many ‘appointments’ can be scheduled throughout the day, depending on volume and the number of agents available. This type of virtual queuing also allows you to offer a call-back outside of business hours, which significantly improves the customer experience.

What’s the difference between Virtual Hold and a Call-Back?

A typical virtual queuing solution takes your place in the line. All virtual queues end in a call-back, but not all call-backs come from a virtual queue.


Call-backs are what happens when a customer’s call is returned. Whether that’s from a virtual queue or a booked appointment time, it’s all a call-back.

Virtual Queuing

Virtual queuing is a catch-all term for what happens when a bot or an automated queuing solution takes your place in a call queue.

Agent-First Virtual Queues vs. Customer-First Virtual Queues

Virtual queuing systems also differ in how they connect to the customer at the end of the queue. There are two ways of connecting a caller to an agent at the end of their virtual hold time: Agent-First Connection or a Customer-First Connection.

Customer-First Virtual Hold

Contrary to its name, this is the least customer-friendly option. When the call nears the end of the virtual hold queue, the ACD places a call to the customer. When they pick up, the system validates the call and caller and then connects them to an agent.

This means that the customer is still forced to wait on hold for a short time. Companies like United Airlines choose this option because they want to save money by making you pay for the extra call time.

Agent-First Virtual Hold

Agent-first means that the call is connected to an agent at the end of the virtual hold. The agent then must initiate the call-back themselves, usually by pressing a button on their console.

The ACD then places the outbound call to the caller, who can speak to a live agent as soon as they answer the call. This makes for a much better customer experience, which is why Fonolo call-backs are agent-first.

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