Why Call-Back Algorithms and Estimated Wait Times Fail

Call Abandonment Rate | 3 minute read

Call-backs are an excellent tool that can benefit both customers and businesses – when they’re designed and implemented correctly. It’s important to understand that call-back products using algorithms and estimated wait times often come up short, leaving customers waiting on hold a second time. 

Superior call-back technology does the job right: smooths out call spikes, keeps customers off hold, and offers reliable, real-time metrics. It can also replace voicemail and support after-hours callers. In short, call-backs should be an insurance policy your contact center can count on.  By contrast, a poorly executed call-back strategy can put extra stress on your call center and frustrate customers in the process. 

Link to the Ultimate Call-Back Checklist

Call-Back Algorithms Can Fail You

Many call-back products take a “call-the-customer-first” approach. Customer-first… sounds good, right? But in this context, putting the customer first isn’t doing them any favors. When it comes to call-backs, “customer first” means customers receive an automated call-back before an agent is available forcing your callers to wait on hold again. How do companies decide when to make the call-back? They use algorithms to determine when a customer should be called back. That “should” comes with a long list of caveats. 

To work well, this approach requires accurate data on staffing levels, call volumes, hold times, handle times, and other variables that change in real-time. Some algorithms simply calculate the estimated wait time (EWT) for calling a customer back, while others use more complex calculations.

Even at the best of times, accurately predicting wait times is a tough undertaking. In the contact center environment, where staffing levels and call volumes rapidly fluctuate or where skills-based routing is used, it’s notoriously difficult.

What Does This Mean For Your Contact Center?

Simply put, when call-back algorithms get it wrong, customers are called back at the wrong time. This creates inefficiency in your call center and frustration for your customers. This often plays out a couple of ways: 

  • The call-back comes too early: Customers are called back and placed on hold – again – waiting for a free agent.  This is a surefire way to frustrate customers who have specifically asked not to wait on hold.
  • The call-back comes too late: Basic call-back technology isn’t smart enough to adapt to call volume. This often creates situations where agents are free to take calls, but the call-backs have already been set for a later time — based on the incorrect EWT. Again, it’s inefficient and frustrating. And it reduces the impact call-backs have on volume.

Trust Call-Backs That Don’t Rely on EWT or Algorithms

Instead of using a basic ‘one-size-fits-all’ algorithm to calculate the EWT, Fonolo’s patented call-back solution actually holds the caller’s place in the queue. This is proven to increase customer satisfaction and reduce costs.

Fonolo also employs an ‘agent-first’ approach, allowing the agent to activate the call-back, and ensuring there is someone on the end of the line when the customer picks up the phone. In an era where 54% of customers say they’d leave a brand after one bad experience, do you really want to leave your customers’ happiness in the hands of a basic algorithm? Not when a reliable call-back solution will improve your customer experience and save you time and money.

Real-Time Metrics and Strong Customer Support Matter

The Credit Union of Colorado knows what happens when a call-back solution fails. The organization was experiencing dramatic call-spikes while converting to a digital banking platform in 2019. The credit union first implemented Fonolo’s call-back solution in 2015 and reduced their call center abandonment rates by more than 40%.

Despite this success, a business partner told them that their existing call center system, Cisco Finesse, could provide a similar call-back solution at no additional cost, so they switched. But Cisco’s call-backs could not handle the increased capacity.

Members’ call-back requests were ignored the system had stopped reliably performing any call-backs at all. CUofCO’s team also couldn’t access real-time data from their provider, so they could not see that something was going wrong. 

Their members were getting frustrated, agents were stressed, and Cisco was having difficulty assisting with their concerns. The serious disruption caused by an unreliable call-back platform was enough for CUofCO to return to Fonolo immediately.

“The MSCC leadership and the members are happy that we once again have Fonolo as our call-back solution,” says Laura Reinhold, MSCC Manager, Credit Union of Colorado. “We’re excited to have real-time call data again, and we’re grateful to have a business partner we can trust.” 

Link to the Ultimate Call-Back Checklist

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