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The Impact of Virtual Queuing in Telemarketing Services

A study on The Psychology of Consumer Decisions to Continue or Abandon Waits from Invisible Service Queues by Narayan Kanakiraman (Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Eller College of Management, University of Arizona) , Robert J. Meyer (Gayfryd Steinberg Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania) and Stephen J. Hoch (John J. Pomerantz Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania) had concluded that people who are on queue, “ are shown to enter waits with overly optimistic expectation of waiting times, and disconfirmation of this process triggers a cascade of cognitions that lure abandonment, including heightened feelings of disappointment, and stress. Only when a decision maker approaches the plausible end of a wait—then senses of disappointment are overcome by the desire to avoid abandoning the time that has been invested in a wait—do these pressures begin to ease.”

Unlike “normal” queues, people in virtual queues could not see the number of people ahead of them, which is a factor that increases the possibility of reneging. In cases of telemarketing services, it means a higher tendency to drop the call. To quote the above research, “anecdotal evidence from the banking industry suggests that nearly 50% of all calls are abandoned within 15 minutes of entering into a queue (Call Center Statistics 2002) — a rate of abandonment that could represent a substantial loss of potential business.”

In 2007, a survey through a telephone questionnaire was made on a representative sample of UK population by ContactBabel for Vicorp² why aimed to answer why the public hated queuing to speak to a contact center agent yet were happy to go into a queue for almost everything else. Sixty-one percent stated that their reason for disliking virtual queuing is “not knowing how much longer you’ll have to wait.” The second top reason is “can’t do anything else.”

telemarketing services have initially tried to counter these reasons with Automated Call Distribution (ACD). However, due to the numerous incoming calls handled by telemarketing services, clients still have to undergo virtual queuing. And the public’s perception of the time spent in the queue is another interesting point. ACD statistics taken from thousands of contact centers over many years show that an average wait time is only 20-25 seconds. But when the public was asked to estimate their waiting time, the average answer was 11 ½ minutes.

The introduction of the First-In, First-Out (FIFO) system in the virtual queues of telemarketing services made it possible for the clients to know their wait time and gave them the option to stay on the line or to request for a callback. Around 50% of customers would agree to a call back, thus reducing the rates of dropped calls. With the callback option, telemarketing services have made a solution on the second top reason for the public’s dislike in virtual queuing, as it allows client to pursue other activities while waiting for the callback.

As an evolving industry, telemarketing services continues to study and make improvements in virtual queuing to further improve customer experience and to enhance the image of telemarketing services.