Call Back Technology from the perspective of workforce management

I have deployed Call Back Technology in three organisations to date , and from a customer experience perspective there is no doubt customers would prefer not to wait in a queue.…. in fact 97% of customers questioned in the Future Foundation survey stated that they would use the service again.

The other benefits are not however as clear cut however and that call back technology decreases costs and improves call centre efficiency is debatable and depends very much on the circumstances. Actually in some circumstances it can create incremental demand and reduce productivity – however, before I get on to that first a big learning:

Promote the call back application to customers

Whilst the idea of not waiting in queue should be appealing to a customer, they did not call with the idea that it would be great to listen to your hold music. They called to speak to someone immediately. Depending on the urgency of reason the customer called if you want customers to take up the option of dropping the call and waiting to be called back you are going to need to promote it. Uptake is best when you give an indication of 1) how long they are likely to wait in queue if they don’t take the option 2) how long it will be before they get a call-back.

By the way – the longer the call back the less likely the customer is willing to take the option from my experience.

Whatever you do, keeping to your promise of when you are going to call back a customer is vital both to ensure right party connect (reduced RPC will create incremental demand more on that in a minute) but also because if you don’t you are likely to make customer experience worse than if you just had them queue. To achieve this, strong workforce management process is vital.

Customer Experience Benefits Outside of Customer Experience

Here are some typical ROI built around this technology:

Decreased Call Abandonment Rate – there is no doubt for those customers who take up the service it will improve answer rate. However there two considerations that actually can make your abandonment rate worse:

  • If you don’t keep to your promise of calling back the customer when you said you would, the likelihood of the customer answering diminishes – thus call abandoned.
  • Linked to the first point around the customer not answering the call back – the technology, it is often configured to dial more than once if it did not get through to the customer the first time round. Thus tying up an agent multiple times and creating incremental demand.
  • If the call back technology is being deployed during a general resource challenge generally rather than to combat a spike, these calls still have to be answered at some point and for those customer who are waiting in queue at that point it is likely their hold time increases and thus so does their abandon rate.

Increased Call Center Efficiency – this is debatable and depends on the technology in question. However most call back technology works by connecting to an agent, playing a call whisper or screen pop prior to dialing and then holding the agent as it dials the customer.

This in my experience will actually increase AHT not decrease it, not only are you holding an agent as they wait for the customer to answer but as a lot of the information made available in the call whisper or screen pop is usually quickly discovered whilst in-call i.e. an agent reading notes whilst concurrently speaking to the customer. Whenever I have measured AHT on queued inbound calls (even with customer irate due to waiting) vs a call-back I find call-back AHT is longer.

Smooth Out Call Center Spikes – if it a spike in demand rather than a general resource challenge then agreed but only if the customer chooses the scheduled call back option – that will move the call back further along in the day, rather than an immediate call back option.

Unfortunately customers generally prefer an immediate call back and this usually just moves the demand one interval along at best. So unless you have an overstaffed next interval it will not help too much in improving Service Levels.

So in conclusion I am in favor of this technology from a customer experience point of view however like most situations that involve technology and workforce, it will not solve your staffing problems alone and it still requires robust and strong workforce management process to under-pin it.

Some further reading – I will let you read between the lines and make your own mind up

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