We’ve covered the important aspects of call treatment in the IVR, and know everything we need to queue the call so it gets to the right agent.
Well, sort of. Back when we laid out Our Sample Call Center, there was an item “Routing to queues based on a combination of DID, IVR selection and customer data dip”. We’ve covered DID handling, IVR selection and customer data dip, but I think it could be pulled together better. And we will, shortly.
Queue set up and customer treatment have a PROFOUND effect on the customer wait time and staffing needs. And, it’s rarely given proper attention. I covered this in my blog here.
What’s a Queue?
It’s a safe bet that if you’re reading this, you know what a queue is. I do need to clarify, though, because vendors split call center functionality up differently. If you come from another call center system, there are functions that you think are part of the queue that are done differently in Amazon Connect.
Queues are where customer calls wait for an available agent (or where calls go to die..) and we need them because more calls can come in than our agents can handle. In general, calls sit in the queue in the order that they are received. And that’s it.
The queue doesn’t choose the agent, nor does it give the call to them – that’s the automatic call distributor’s job (ACD).
There’s not much to creating queues in Amazon Connect. You:
- Name the queue
- Assign the hours that the queue is open
- Optionally set the maximum number of calls you can have queued
- Assigning an outbound phone number and caller ID to the queue
What’s Outbound Got To Do With This?
Now, what does outbound have to do with this? Didn’t I just say that the queue is for inbound calls? Well, outbound is one of those extra functions that really isn’t part of a queue, but is stuck in there anyways.
There are two reasons for this. First, when agents make outbound calls, you don’t want them getting queued calls. By making an outbound call “on a queue”, the ACD can keep track of the agent’s availability.
Second, automated outbound dialers1 work by dialing a
victim customer from a list, and when the customer picks up, connecting an available agent. Kind of makes outbound look like queued inbound calls.
Queues and Contact Flows
In Amazon Connect, queues ARE NOT part of the main contact flow. They are a different entity.
Passing a call to the queue from the main contact flow is done in two steps. Looks like this:
You can select it explicitly from your list of defined queues, or assign the queue you want to an attribute, and use the attribute.
Given that I prefer to build engines instead of hard wiring everything, I’m glad to see this attribute ability.
You have successfully guided the customer to the appropriate queue. What the customer experiences while waiting is known as “queue treatment”. This includes:
- Giving the customer an estimate of how long they will wait
- Playing the customer something to listen to while they’re waiting2
- Providing the customer an alternative to waiting (such as a callback)
- Dealing with cases where there’s too many waiting calls
- Dealing with cases where the customer wait time would be excessive
- Dealing cases that there are zero agents logged in to take calls
- Providing a way of moving critical calls ahead of waiting calls
Now, you don’t have to do all of these things, but you’ll do at least some of them.
More to come.
1Automated outbound dialers, a.k.a. “power dialers” were used primarily in telemarketing, almost exclusively by companies that clean ducts. Well, not really, but you get the idea. There are valid reasons for using an outbound dialer, such as for mass emergency notifications. But telemarketing laws have become much more stringent, and legitimate actors rarely use them for sales anymore.
2A few weeks ago, a company rickrolled me when I was queued. Yes, that song was their waiting music.