A fundamental part of any help desk is the system that shows how the desk is working. The monitor will usually show everybody how many help desk agents are logged in, how many calls the help desk has taken and whether the desk is
meeting its Service Level Agreements (SLA’s). On a nice day, the board might be green and agents will be available to take calls when they come. This means the caller doesn’t have to wait in a call queue and the agents will have time between calls relax and prepare for the next call. The SLA’s will be met and the managers will be happy.
On a horrendous day, usually Monday’s, the screen will be flashing an evil shade of red and the SLA’s will not be met. There will be Calls in Queue (CIQ), sometimes double-digits and the customers will be waiting for extremely long periods to speak to an agent. This makes them unhappy which they will then vent when an agent finally answers the phone; even the awesome ‘On Hold’ music will not calm them down. What they can’t understand is that the agent has taken 10 calls in a row with angry customers and really does not want to deal with anymore unpleasantness. An agent that takes call after call constantly will be fatigued, unhelpful and might make mistakes.
Phew. Let’s take a deep breath. Let’s take a look at 7 ways we can reduce the number of Calls in Queue on a busy day. Reducing Calls in Queue means happier agents, happier customers, happy managers and greener SLA’s.
1. Front End Messaging
This will usually have to be agreed with the client but one way to reduce the number of people waiting to connect to an agent is to have a Front End Message place. This means that when they dial the help desk number, they hear a welcome message that says a pleasant greeting and any major issues that might be affecting service. If there is a big software roll out or upgrade that is likely to cause problems, have the message tell the users what to expect. It goes without saying that you should have a native speaker with a clear and confident voice who records it.
2. Train your agents to prioritize calls
If you have an incident that is causing lots of people to call in to be told the system is down, and somebody calls for a long installation that you know might take an hour, ask them if they wouldn’t mind waiting a little while when the queue is gone. 9 times out of 10 they will understand and agree on a time to call back but the agents needs to ensure they actually do perform the call to build trust between the helpdesk and the customer
3. Alternative method of logging tickets
Many help desks are turning to alternative methods of logging calls such as online portals and these can be a way of reducing the number of people calling in. The user will need to be clear and concise with what they post and the ticket will then be assigned to an agent to deal with. You can have people who are primarily dealing with online tickets and rotate the durties which allows some people to have time off the telephone duty.
4. Effective agent scheduling
The managers of a helpdesk need to accurately and appropriately estimate when the desk will be busy. After public holidays is a good place to start and although we cannot foresee when people are going to be sick, it is always a good idea to limit vacation in periods of the year when call volumes will be high
5. Major incident handling
One place where Calls in Queue really start to stack up is during a major incident. There is no real way we can anticipate every major incident but we can at least guess when we might be busy. It is important that the agents know what might be coming and the emergency team deal with the incident appropriately. Good skills and drills in this area can massively reduce the number of calls in the queue.
If your help desk is one of many, which it often is in IT companies, have agents from another desk act as overflow for your queue; and vice versa. You might not be familiar with all their systems and software but speaking to somebody and taking their details at least is better than waiting on hold.
7. Well trained agents
The tried and tested method of improving your statistics is to have good agents who want to work as a team and jump straight back on the phone when times are busy. Get the agents quick at ticketing and develop a culture where sitting in ‘After-call’ is frowned upon. Promote a strong sense of team spirit and rewards to agents when the desk does well.
Also read: 7 Ways To Improve First Call Resolution