What is Call Queue and How to Use it for Inbound Calls
By Quinn Malloy
| 15. June 2021 |
Features, Technical
By Q. MalloyQuinn Malloy
| 15 Jun 2021 |
Features, Technical
    By Q. MalloyQuinn Malloy
    | 15 Jun 2021
    Features, Technical

    What is Call Queue and How to Use it for Inbound Calls

    illustration call list

    Having to wait on hold is one of the main reasons why customers dislike calling support lines. For the majority of us, doing that means we can expect either a long time waiting on hold or having to call multiple times just to get through. It’s even worse, considering that, unlike a checkout or takeaway queue, there’s often no way of knowing how many callers are in line before you (unless stated) or how many agents are currently working.

    Wouldn’t it be much more helpful if callers could find out straight away how much time it should take for them to reach an agent? And in case the waiting time is long, to leave the call without losing their place in the queue? It would – and that’s exactly why call queue features were invented. Sounds useful? So let’s talk a bit today about what a call queue system is and how it can be of help to both your customers’ and agents.

    What Is a Call Queue?

    When there are more callers than you can handle at a given moment, they get automatically lined up waiting so that you can serve them in the order they called – almost identically to a typical physical queue. 

    The difference is that when standing in a physical line, customers can see how many people are ahead of them, and how many employees are working and can estimate the time they will have to keep waiting until their turn. In virtual queues, clients can’t see the other callers or staff – there might be only 1 person waiting, or there may be 20, and the same goes for agents. 

    So the waiting time might be only a minute or two, but it could be an hour. In this situation, from the caller’s perspective, they have only two choices: either wait until someone answers the call or hang up and try again later. 

    Both options come with a risk, though. Waiting on hold might take several minutes waiting for an agent to answer, but hanging up the call means losing their current place and having to phone back another time. And since callers don’t usually have enough information to find out which option would be the fastest, they mostly rely on making guesses. With a call queue attendant’s help, though, there’s no need for guesswork – they can give callers exactly the necessary information at that moment.  

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    What is a call queuing system?

    The main role of a call queue system is to route all incoming calls to the most suitable agent for the caller’s question. That both minimizes the risk of having to transfer calls (and we all know how much customers hate having to repeat their questions to several agents) and also helps callers get their problems solved faster.

    But that’s not all a call queuing system can do. It can also help assist callers during the time they stay on hold. Through pre-recorded messages, an attendant can greet callers and inform them how many people are waiting in the queue or what the current hold time is.

    In the case that the hold time is especially long, the attendant can also ask a caller whether they wish to continue waiting in line or if they would prefer to leave their contact number for an agent to contact them later. 

    During the time a caller stays on the line, you can also use pre-recorded messages to provide them with a personalized offer or to ask them to prepare any information that will be required for the case (like order number or customer ID). What else can you use a call queue system for?

    • Business hours rules: here, you can specify how calls should be handled when your contact center is open, but also how they should be dealt with during holidays, weekends, and out-of-hours.
    • Greetings and music: to make your callers’ on-hold times a bit more pleasant, you can upload recorded greetings, personalized messages, or music files that will be played while waiting for agents.   
    • Call distribution and routing rules: with this, you can decide what method should be used for routing calls – to the least busy agent, someone with matching skills, or all to one agent in a certain group.
    • Callback: if the on-hold waiting time is too long or the calling queue is currently full, you can suggest that your customers leave the line but still keep their place in the queue. When an agent becomes available to take the call, they can be immediately connected to the caller through the call queue system.

    How can you use a call queue in your contact center?

    Long calling queues to your company’s number can be a good sign. It means that your business is growing and attracting new customers, thus, having people wait in line is sometimes unavoidable. The problems start when callers have to wait too long and abandon calls out of frustration. 

    It would be ideal if your agents could answer every single call as soon as it comes in without ever needing to put callers on hold. That’s not realistic, though – during peak hours or a busy holiday season, answering all calls straight away is often an impossible task.

    A reliable contact center with a call queue feature can, however, help your agents quite a bit with managing call queues and keeping callers waiting patiently until there’s an agent ready to take the call. What else can a call queue feature help your business with?

    #1 Reducing hold times

    Besides routing callers to the first available or most qualified agent, a call queue system has a couple of other features that can noticeably shorten waiting times. For example, with Ring Groups, you can set up the system so that all agents belonging to a given group are informed about an incoming call and the first agent to respond will be connected to the caller.

    #2 Improve customer satisfaction

    One of the best things you can show to your callers is that you value their time. With properly set up call queue workflows, callers won’t have to wait on hold without knowing how long it will take them or explain their issues to several agents. A Call Queue attendant can tell callers straight away if there will be an agent available soon to take their call or if the queue is already full. If a caller doesn’t want to or can’t wait on hold, they can also simply ask for a support agent to call them back when one becomes available. By routing to the right agent straight away, you also increase the chances of a customer’s issue being fixed on the first call, greatly improving their satisfaction with your service.

    #3 Improve agent productivity

    Besides making callers happier, the call queue feature can also benefit your agents. First of all, calls will be distributed evenly among groups of agents, which takes quite a bit of pressure off their shoulders. Call routing also ensures that agents will receive questions and issues related to their specific skills or job positions, minimizing the risk of having to transfer calls to other agents (and frustrating the callers). And as they will have all of a caller’s information right on their dashboard, agents can prepare everything they need before they are connected to the caller rather than wasting precious time during the call.

    #4 Decrease call abandonment rate

    When callers know they won’t have to waste their time on hold, they are far more likely to reach out to you with any problems or questions they might have. Callbacks and personalized music or messages can also be of great help in keeping your callers patient until an agent can contact them.  


    Waiting on hold can be a truly nerve-wracking experience for callers – especially if they don’t know how long they might be kept waiting. With call queuing, though, getting in touch with phone support doesn’t have to be such a miserable experience – quite the opposite, in fact. 

    As callers are phoning the support number, they can get all the information they need to make a decision about whether they want to stay on hold or be called back. And whichever option they pick, callers know that they will be connected to an agent with exactly the knowledge and skills needed to solve the problem. That works in your agents’ favor as well, as they can relax a bit knowing that the call queue system has their back.  

    All that’s needed now for you is to choose a quality cloud-based phone system that will become part of your team – like CloudTalk, which can offer you plenty of call features bundled together into an integrated platform.