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Boosting CX by Honoring the Callback Promise

Denis Putilov Alamy Stock Photo.jpg

Image: Denis Putilov - Alamy Stock Photo
Callback – also called virtual hold – has been around for over two decades. While there are uncertainties on who developed virtual solutions, us old-timers will remember that Virtual Hold Technology (VHT) was among the first. Today, callback capabilities are considered table stakes for contact center operations and customers. Customers would prefer to have their call answered immediately, and callback is an important component to enhance the overall customer experience.
 
The benefits of callback are undisputed, and cost/benefit modeling supports investing in the technology. Callback decreases the number of abandoned calls and helps to improve service level attainment as callback will add to the number of calls attended per hour. It also lowers contact center costs by reducing hold time, which in turn reduces telephony and trunk costs. More importantly, callback reduces caller effort and improves customer satisfaction.
 
When a caller chooses a callback, whether keeping their place in the queue for the next available representative or scheduled at a specific time, it signals to the caller that the organization respects their time and appreciates their patience. For contact center operations, it allows more accurate forecasting to manage peaks and valleys. Interestingly, it also reduces the number of repeat callers as the technology identifies duplicate phone numbers and lets the caller know their callback is already scheduled.
 
But the process is more than simply delivering a call back to the customer. Callback is not a build-once-and-done solution. It starts with a callback strategy that leverages the contact center’s current queueing approach. This requires the knowledge and skill to understand the mechanics of queueing and all the different behaviors to each queue in the system. No single approach can meet every challenge or requirement, but understanding the vendor’s algorithm will determine whether to employ place in queue (PIQ) or estimated wait time (EWT) to set callback expectations.
 
From my perspective, EWT is consistently inaccurate across the contact center industry. Often playing the EWT to a caller will increase abandonment rates. I recommend checking the number of calls in the queue (PIQ) and only offering PIQ when there are less than 10 callers in queue. It is really about delivering on the promise or expectation of when the call back will be received — don’t be tempted to treat callbacks as non-priority calls. Callers who have trusted the callback process should not be treated like second-class citizens. Callbacks should be given priority over new callers in the queue. Using either EWT or number in queue is determined by queue behavior.
 
Callback enables a call center to effectively manage its incoming calls and handle the customer’s concerns in the most effective manner. Customers simply do not have the time to wait on hold to speak with a customer service agent. Although there are many IVR services that can help reduce this time, callback technology is the best option for mitigating long holds, relieving frustration, and showing both agents and customers that you truly value them.


Frances is writing on behalf of the SCTC, a premier professional organization for independent consultants. SCTC consultant members are leaders in the industry, able to provide best of breed professional services in a wide array of technologies. Every consultant member commits annually to a strict Code of Ethics, ensuring they work for the client benefit only and do not receive financial compensation from vendors and service providers.

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