Call Queue

Put your customers on hold if there are no agents available to assist them.

Have you ever dialed a company and had to wait? Sometimes, they tell you how long you’ll be on hold. Other times, they play music while you are waiting. That’s a call queue. A virtual call queuing system is critical in the contact center environment to manage the call flow and improve customer experience.

What is a call queue?

In a nutshell, call queues works when a customer calls, but all your call agents are unavailable. When multiple callers dial a phone number simultaneously, they are placed in a queue (a virtual waiting line) until an available agent becomes free to handle their call. While waiting in the queue, callers typically hear on-hold music or recorded messages. They may also be informed of their position in the queue or provided with an estimated wait time.

Call queues are used by contact centers or customer service operations to manage call volume effectively. The goal is to help agents answer calls as fast as possible, cutting down waiting times, and increasing customer satisfaction.

How does call queuing work?

how does ACD system works

Call queues work by grouping inbound calls and placing them in a line or queue based on a set of predetermined rules. Here’s a step-by-step overview of how call queues typically operate:

Stage 1: Call Arrival

When customers call, your business phone system greets them with a recorded message, often an automated IVR menu. The IVR allows callers to select options or provide information related to their query. Once the IVR interaction is complete, they will be placed into a virtual queue.

Stage 2: Call Queue Management

In addition to the basic “first come, first served” approach, call center managers can define various queue strategies to determine call priority and agent assignment. For instance, VIP calls can be given priority by adjusting queue priority settings, while skill-based routing ensures that customer queries are directed to the most suitable agent, resulting in a higher first-call resolution.

Stage 3: Customer Call Hold Experience

Customers remain waiting on hold until an agent is available. During this wait time, they might hear music or on-hold messages as configured. Some advanced call center software also provides the option to request an in-queue callback, which allows callers to keep their position in queue and receive a callback when an agent is available.

Types of Call Queue Strategies

Call Queue Strategies, known as call routing strategies in a queue, is likely the most important step of the call queue process, as it determines which specific agent the caller will speak to. Top call routing strategies of a queue include:



Round Robin






Other Queue Strategies


Why should you improve call queue management?

Using a call queue can decrease customer wait times and improve issue resolution by making sure the customer is matched to the correct agent from the very start of their call. However, the advantages of a proper call queue management is more than that.

Agents anwering calls after interactive voice response route the caller to the agent

Lower Call Abandonment Rates


Abandonment rates refer to the number of callers who hang up before they are transferred to an available agent. The reason here is, of course, long wait times. Here is where an efficient virtual queue system comes into play.

Besides routing callers to the first available right agent, you can inform callers of their positions in the queue so that they will have a rough idea of how long they have to wait and will not disconnect the call. By implementing more advanced features like a virtual receptionist, callers will be able to deal with less significant issues without having to wait for an actual agent to provide them with a solution.

Increased Customer Satisfaction


When a customer is getting matched with the correct department or agent right away, it’s far more likely they are more satisfied.

By implementing various queue strategies, such as skill-based routing or priority queue, customers are connected to the most suitable agent as fast as possible. This personalized approach enhances the customer experience and increases the likelihood of a successful resolution.

Enhanced Agent Productivity


Queues that are properly ordered can assist agents stay organized and, as a result, decrease churn. Unlike manual distribution, call queuing allocates calls fairly among all agents so that no single agent is overburdened. Agents will not have to deal with irate consumers on a regular basis if queues are well-managed.

Call queues also offer reports on agent performance which can assist in determining when extra personnel or changes are required during peak periods. An efficient call queuing system will help reduces stress, keeps agents motivated, and enhances their confidence.

Optimized Operational Costs


There are several ways how improving your call queueing can help save call center costs. The first thing is that in many call centers, every inbound call occupies a landline for the entire waiting time. Call queuing allows you to respond to peak demand without incurring higher costs.

Optimizing call queues can also save money on salaries. An efficient call queue system means fewer agents dealing with higher call volumes. This prevents overstaffing (especially during less busy business hours), allowing you to save costs and increase your company representatives’ salaries. This, in turn, will increase your team’s morale and productivity.

What are the best practices when setting up call queues?

Setting up call queues efficiently is crucial for providing excellent customer service and managing incoming calls effectively. Here are some best practices to consider when setting up call queues:

queue panel in call center

1. Define call queue structure


Determine the number and types of queues required based on your organization’s needs. Consider factors like customer segments, call types, and skill levels required to handle different inquiries.

2. Prioritize call routing


Configure call routing rules based on priority levels. Ensure urgent or VIP calls are given higher priority and routed to the appropriate agents promptly. This helps in providing optimal service to important callers.

3. Offer estimated wait time updates


Provide accurate estimated wait times to callers through automated announcements or real-time notifications. This transparency helps manage caller expectations and reduces perceived wait time.

4. Set appropriate queue thresholds


Define maximum queue lengths and wait times to maintain a balance between customer satisfaction and resource utilization. Avoid excessive wait times as they can lead to frustration, but also ensure you have enough staff to handle call volumes during peak periods.

5. Monitor and analyze queue performance


Regularly review queue performance metrics such as average wait time, abandonment rate, and first call resolution. Analyze this data to identify bottlenecks, areas for improvement, and opportunities to optimize queue settings.

6. Continuously adapt and optimize


Regularly review call queue performance, receive feedback from agents and customers, and make necessary adjustments. As your business evolves, refine your call queue settings to align with changing customer expectations and organizational goals.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What are the causes of long call queues?


Seasonal peaks

depending on the specification of your business, certain seasons can raise incoming call volumes. The same applies to promotional campaigns. Hiring extra contact center personnel is the best way to deal with the rising call volume. Callers who are on hold for an extended period of time during peak hours are more likely to hang up, increasing your abandon rate.

Understaffed departments

insufficient staffing happens in call centers. As your business grows, the call volume will sometimes increase beyond the initial expectation. If you do not hire more workforce to handle customer calls then, your call center, even the whole business will be under negative impact. Normally, you can check call reports regularly to spot this shortage of staff before it hurts your bottom line and take actions accordingly.

A lack of customer self-service options

Customer calls in with various issues and needs, but does every one of them needs to be responded by a human agent? The more efficient way is to pair your call queue system with IVR so that your customers can handle minor issues on their own. This means that the more sophisticated and technically demanding problems are automatically filtered out, and your agents can focus on handling them. This not only enables faster resolutions, but also increases the efficiency and value of the agents’ work.

Outdated software

it requires more than staff to keep a call center running successfully. With a wide variety of tools now available, you can expect a much higher level of responsiveness and performance. If you settle for the very basic phone system features, you risk falling behind the competition and compromising customer satisfaction. Many advanced call center features such as queue panels, call reports, wallboard, etc. have been adopted by more and more call centers and helped them take the customer experience to the next level.

What is the difference between IVR and call queue?


What is queue callback?


How do phone queues work?


What is the difference between a call group and a call queue?


Call groups aim for parallel handling, whereas call queues aim for sequential handling with prioritization. Both approaches have different use cases and can be beneficial depending on the specific needs of an organization.

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