One of our biggest software releases of 2020 was ACD Queues Pro that gives businesses a range of options for custom call queue management, including matching their queues with webhooks to gather detailed information about the state of a call center.
Additionally, our customers can request custom phone system setups from us either in whole or in parts. We can build an entire phone system for them, or we can add a small component that goes beyond what our stock system does normally. It’s this latter type of help that we provided to our customer, Nationwide Senior Plans, that needed more insight about caller and agent status in their ACD Queues Pro setup.
The Issue at Hand
For Nationwide Senior Plans, which helps individuals choose Medicare insurance plans, their use of queues hit a struggle that many companies see when handling large volumes of calls: They would, at times, see more incoming calls than they had agents to cover those calls.
When this happens, typically callers are put on hold. This simple action gives businesses a chance to tell customers their calls will be handled soon, yet as anyone who has experienced being placed on hold, this action can also create friction between a business and its clients.
Friction occurs because customers expect to access business services in a timely manner. Being put on hold prevents that from happening, and because of the inflexibility and lack of transparency of many queuing systems, both businesses and customers can be left in the dark regarding the state of a queue. Nationwide Senior Plans wants its customers to have a smooth experience on their calls, so it reached out to VirtualPBX to see which custom call queue management options were available to handle these occurrences.
Visibility Through Notifications
Nationwide Senior Plans requested that it be sent notifications when any type of queue overload occurred. It wanted to know the second that the number of inbound calls in a queue exceeded the number of agents available to take those calls.
While ACD Queues Pro does not natively send notifications through mediums like SMS (text messages) and Slack, it does have built-in webhooks capability that can interact with other third-party services to send SMS and Slack notification.
This means that, in practice, ACD Queues Pro can be told to create a system message when a specific action occurs. Then a third party service can look for that message and take additional actions when the message is sent.
Nationwide Senior Plans uses this pattern to tell ACD Queues Pro to create a message every time a caller enters a call queue. It then links that message to the Zapier automation service to handle the sending of notifications to managers in charge of the call center.
Custom Call Queue Management Without Complex Code
Not all of our Custom Voice Solutions setups need to be complicated and require a lot of coding. They also don’t need to require multiple days of setup time.
Nationwide Senior Plans reached out to us with a simple request: We want to be notified when there is an overload in a queue.
We responded by telling them that we could build this service for them quickly, simply, and cheaply. Moreover, we told Nationwide Senior Plans that, after we were done with the initial setup, they could manage the notification service without knowing a bit of computer programming.
Zapier Steps Up
The key to this simplicity is the link between Call Queues Pro and Zapier, which uses a visual interface to automate interactions between web-based services.
Our development team first created a Webhook in the ACD Queues Pro platform that relies on a trigger event called “Qubicle Queue Join.” In using this event, all the system does it wait for an inbound call to enter a call queue; then it will log information about the call so it can be read by an external service.
Nationwide Senior Plans sends all its inbound callers into queues in the ACD Queues Pro system, so whenever a customer calls joins one of their queues, the “Qubicle Queue Join” event will activate and log information about those calls.
A webhook is a web address that accepts information that can be accessed by any service that knows the address. Zapier will create an address like “https://hooks.zapier.com/hooks/catch/123456/abcdefg/” to accept information generated from the “Qubicle Queue Join” event. Zapier is then able to visit that address and read the data inside, including information like the unique ID of the call queue, the call timestamp, and caller ID phone number.
Validation and Notification
Zapier works by waiting for a trigger event and then responding to that event when it occurs. This is similar to how our “Qubicle Queue Join” event works. Whenever Zapier sees an action occur, it will go through the rest of its steps that follow that action.
For Nationwide Senior Plans, we told Zapier to wait for its webhook step to trigger. Then we followed that action with a number of checks to see if a notification was necessary. This flow of events is the final product:
- Wait for webhook
- Check the queue ID to see if it matches the queues that want to be monitored
- If there’s a match, check the number of callers and agents in that queue
- If there are more callers than agents, send an SMS message and Slack message to the team
Call Queue Management in the Future
This process, although it took some creativity to establish, requires minimal computer programming experience and is entirely maintainable by Nationwide Senior Plans management.
Shown where the options exist, we can point Nationwide Senior Plans (or any similar business) where the options are to change the queues they want to monitor or the messages they want to send. Their own experience with the notifications will demonstrate how effective the notifications are for the team, and changes can be made according to future needs.
The process here should have positive implications for both the business and its customers. Nationwide Senior Plans will have an automated system tell it when there’s a heavy load on the call staff. It can make changes in staffing that moment or by scheduling more agents in following periods where volume is expected to be high. Customers may not know it, but they will then experience more responsive action on the part of the business they want to reach.
Custom call queue management doesn’t need to be complicated. It can occur in no-code environments that are simple to set up and easy to maintain. We’re happy to see our existing Custom Voice Solutions customers satisfied with what we’ve built for them and excited to tackle the next custom setup challenge, no matter its level of complexity.