The Agent Call-Back: Risks and Benefits
During peak hours, or when forecasts and schedules prove inaccurate (an occurrence that can be reduced with workforce management), many call centers have introduced a call-back feature. This is a system in which callers are told that an agent will contact them at some future time based on their place in the queue.
Is this an effective solution to long hold times? Let’s take a closer look from the perspective of both the call center and the customer.
On the plus side, call-backs eliminate the annoying practice of sitting on hold for several minutes, listening to repetitive music and pre-recorded messages about how that customer’s call is important to the company, and how a representative will be with them shortly.
The longer customers are forced to wait, the more likely some of them are to hang up, and take their business elsewhere. With call-back, that customer can go back to watching TV or doing some work at the computer, until being contacted by an agent.
However, some customers might view the call-back as a rebuff: “Why are they taking other people’s calls and not mine?” Everyone is more impatient these days, and for some the offer to call a customer back just represents another unwelcome delay.
The Call Center
For the call center, a call-back option provides a way to level out spikes in call volume that can increase the abandoned call rate. And when callers finally get to speak to someone after a long wait on hold, many will devote the first few moments of the conversation to complaining about the poor service, which also increases average handle time.
However, the call-back still carries the inherent risk of losing that customer. As long as someone is on hold, they are still in contact with the company, and likely to follow through on whatever business inspired the call. When that connection is broken, there is no guarantee the customer will be around to answer the phone when the agent calls back.
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