How to Reduce Customer Wait Times with Automation

How to Reduce Customer Wait Times with Automation

Mark Sarria |October 23 2019 10 min

No rule says customer experience (CX) excludes government agencies. However, it’s challenging enough for enterprise business to implement CX strategies, meaning it’s even more so for governments with the uphill battle of limited budgets, staff shortages and hiring freezes.

No matter the business sector, no customer likes to wait. With this post, I want to help you improve customer wait times by enabling your customer journey management system to automate your workflow using sound calling rules. I will point out several configuration areas of interest that will help your organization get the best outcomes for reducing wait-times.

Identify the services you provide to visualize the customer journey

Let’s start with the fundamentals: defining your services. As the late Steve Jobs once said, “You start with the customer and work backwards with the technology.”

Your organization may provide an abundance of services. To tackle service-list paralysis, begin by creating a list of all the services you provide. Be careful not to include the services you perform—yes, there is a difference between the services you perform and the services you provide. The services you perform are the processes or actions you take to deliver the services you provide. What we want is the label you give that action or the name of the action. A single word will do.

Let’s use the DMV service of issuing driver’s licenses as an example. Issuing driver’s licenses is a service the DMV provides. Then we break down the service of issuing driver’s licenses into the specific services. It should look something like this:

Issuing Driver’s Licenses
  • a. Issuing New Driver’s Licenses
  • b. Renewing Driver’s Licenses
  • c. Issuing Out-of-State Driver’s Licenses

Defining the services will help to better visualize the customer journey.

A good practice to help you visualize the journey is to do what is known as “Walking the Experience.” Go through each of the services taking the same steps your customer will take to receive the service. By doing so, you can identify any service gaps, breaks, or areas where you lose customers due to confusion.


Define acceptable wait time for each queue

Service level is an area that frequently gets overlooked. For example, when I review configurations, all the queues often have the same service level number. In my experience, service level is the second most important field in the queue’s configuration box, second only to prefix letter. When configured correctly, it opens a whole new opportunity to manage wait-times. It can also be used as a calling rule in the work profile (more to come on work profiles) later, making it a big deal.

The service level indicates the maximum time that it is okay for the customer to wait in a queue. When configured, the service level determines which queue the customer should be called from first. Think of it as a timer. The customer closest to the end of his/her service level timer gets called first across all queues that make up the work profile.

Using our DMV example, let’s say you have a customer is in New Driver’s License queue. The New Driver’s License queue is configured with a service level of 10 minutes. We have a second queue configured called Driver’s License Renewal with a service level of 20 minutes. We have one customer waiting in each queue. The customers in the New Driver’s License queue and the Driver’s License Renewal queue have both been waiting for five minutes. The person in the New Driver’s License queue has five minutes left to hit the service level maximum wait time, while the person in the Driver’s License Renewal queue has 15 minutes remaining on the clock. In this instance, the customer in the New Driver’s License queue will be called first.

Configuring service levels properly is a great strategy to help manage wait-times. However, aside from setting it up in the service levels, you will also need to set up work profile calling rules. Keep reading to learn about Calling Rules.


Decide which queue to call from and in what order

Work profiles is one of the most misunderstood and underappreciated sections of configuring proper calling rules. A work profile defines which queues to call from and in what order. The work profiles consist of all the available queues, coupled with rules simply called the calling rules.

Hint: The magic to managing and reducing wait-times is in the calling rules.

The structure of the calling rules consists of rules and conditions. The most basic calling rule calls from one queue only. However, the recommended configuration is to call from several queues using conditions.

A calling rule is an established standard of order or sequence for calling tickets to the next available counter. Here is an example of calling rules and a short description of how each behaves for a greater understanding of which rules work best for your wait-time strategy:

  • Call by defined order. This rule will call from multiple queues in a defined order. It will call from the first queue until it is empty, then call from the next queue, and so on.

  • Call by max waiting time. This rule will call from multiple queues and pick the queue with the longest waiting time. Under this rule, transferred tickets are not called based on when they arrived in the branch office but based on when they first entered the queue. Keep this in mind if ticket transferring is part of your workflow.

  • Call by closest to service level. This rule will call from multiple queues and pick the queue with the first visitor closest to the service level. For example, let’s say we have two queues: the first queue has the service level set to 10 minutes, and the second has the service level set to 20 minutes. If the first visitor in both queues has been waiting for five minutes, the visitor in Queue 1 has five minutes left to the service level while the visitor in Queue 2 has 15 minutes left. The visitor in Queue 1 will be called first.

  • Call by max visit lifetime. This rule will call from multiple queues and pick the queue with the longest visit lifetime.

I’ve just scratched the surface on calling rules here. I’ll be writing a deep dive article on this topic and provide real-world examples for better understanding soon.


Think through your customer journey

In this post, I have touched on a few configuration golden nuggets that will help drive wait times down. However, without a clear strategy, deep-diving into your current process, and a few “come to Jesus” moments, configuration alone cannot continuously sustain low wait times. A well-thought-out journey coupled with an optimally configured work profile is the differentiator between long wait times and reasonable wait times. Consider starting with a Customer Journey Maturity Model to define a customer journey and build from there.

Interested to learn more about how automation can solve your customer journey management? 

Contact us


Mark Sarria

Mark Sarria

Product Evangelist, Senior Technical Sales Engineer

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