Call Queues is a voice feature for automatically distributing incoming calls between agents based on a selected distribution strategy and priority levels. As the name suggests, it also allows callers to wait in the queue for an agent to become available and get notifications about their position in the line. You can read more about how queues work here.
Call queues improve customer service because they make it more likely for a caller to be connected with an agent. They also encourage callers to wait for their call to be answered instead of hanging up.
To further reduce waiting times, you can define exit rules for the queue to route calls to other destinations when the queue becomes too busy or no agents are logged into it.
Queues usually parallel certain departments in a company or an organization. For example, the technical support and sales department will each have its own queues.
For call distribution, you also have the option to use Hunt Groups. The similarities and differences between the two features are explained here.
Agents have no control over the the queues they belong to. Queues are automatically added to their TeleConsole account from the Admin Center.
Agents can, however, sign in and sign out of queues to help manage their availability and ability to respond to calls. See instructions here.
An administrator can also sign agents in and out of queues from the ACD dashboard.
Existing Call Queues
The Call Queues screen is accessed at Admin Center Menu>Voice Features>Call Queues, listing the existing queues by name, description, and priority. You can check one or several queues and select to delete them.
Select on the top-right to download a CSV file of existing queues showing a system ID for the queue, name, description, priority, queue color hex value, and owner ID (0 if there is no owner for the queue).
Select to search for a specific queue(s) by name, description, or any value from the CSV file.
Adding a New Call Queue
To create a new queue select ADD CALL QUEUE from the Queues List screen or Add Queue from the Features Shortcut menu.
Provide a name for the queue and you will be directed to the Queue Settings screen (see next) to configure the queue and add agents to it.
Select any queue or create a new one to show its settings and agents screen. There are two expandable settings categories.
On the top-right you can use the arrows to select the next or previous queue without having to go back to the Call Queues list.
Queue Priorities vs Agent Priorities
A key factor for Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) is priority levels. These can be assigned to both queues and the agents assigned to them.
Queues priorities determine call delivery for agents who are assigned to multiple queues. So if an agent is assigned and logged into three different queues the system will deliver calls to him first on the queue with the highest priority.
Agent priorities determine call delivery for agents within a queue. Calls will generally get delivered to agents with higher priority levels but this also depends on the the call distribution strategy. If agents have the same priority in a queue you can also select to ring all of them at the same time or ring the one who has been waiting longer to answer a call.
Name/Description: Self-explanatory. The description is optional.
If you are using both queues and hunt groups, name each in a way that you can differentiate from one another as they are both displayed on the same column in the Active Calls Switchboard (i.e. "Sales Hunt Group" vs "Sales Queue")
Owner: Select a user who owns the queue and can edit its settings even if he doesn't have administrator credentials.
Priority: Select the priority level for the queue from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Calls are generally first delivered to queues with higher priority levels, but that also depends on the call distribution strategy.
Queue Representation Color: Click the color disc to open a color selector where you can select one of the color choices or enter a color HEX value. The selected color shows for the queue icon on the ACD Dashboard.
Request telephones to auto-answer: When enabled, calls delivered from the queue to local phones that support this feature will get auto-answered.
If you enable this you should consider also enabling the "Auto logout agents if they miss a call" option (see Agent Settings) so callers are not automatically answered by unattended phones when agents leave their desks. Alternatively, you can just ask agents to manually sign out from either their TeleConsole account or just from specific queues.
Exit queue when: This is an important queue feature that lets you route calls to other destinations when the queue is too busy or has no logged-in agents available.
- Use same destination for all exit reasons: If you toggle on this option you will only need to provide one destination for all exit reasons, including if the caller presses * on his phone.
See a complete list and details of Admin Center destination types here. Some destination types require you to provide a destination (a phone line for example) and others are a destination by themselves ("Busy Tone" for example).
- There are too many calls in queue: Select the number of held calls in the queue that will trigger an exit action. Provide a destination type and (if necessary) a destination.
Selecting No Limit disables this exit action and allows unlimited calls to be on hold.
- Maximum hold time is reached: Select the maximum holding time (from 5 seconds and up to an hour) for any call in the queue that will trigger an exit action. Provide a destination type and (if necessary) a destination.
Selecting No Limit disables this exit action and allows unlimited holding time.
- No agents are logged in: Select Yes to exit the queue if no agents are logged in and provide a destination type and (if necessary) a destination.
When enabled, this prevents callers from reaching an unattended queue.
Selecting No disables this exit action.
Caller pressing * forwards to: This exit action is always available to callers by pressing * on their phone. You just need to specify the exit destination to forward calls to.
Note, however, that if the call-back option is enabled in Caller Settings instead of exiting the queue the caller will be prompted to make a selection when pressing *. One of these selections allows the caller to exit the queue which will forward the call to the exit destination specified here.
Play Caller's Position Before Entering Queue: Select Yes to notify a caller about how many other callers are ahead of him in the queue when his call is transferred to the queue.
Play Caller's Position in The Queue Music: Select Yes to notify a caller about how many other callers are ahead of him while he is on hold in the queue. If enabled, you can then select...
Play Caller's Position Every: This determines the interval, from 5 to 300 seconds, between each caller position notification while a caller is on hold in a queue.
Setup Callback by Pressing the * key: When enabled, the caller will be prompted to make a selection to set up a call-back feature. He can be called back at the caller ID number identified by the system or select to enter a different phone number. He can also just select to exit the queue and in that case the call will be forwarded to the destination provided in the General Settings above.
If the caller selects to make a callback the system will hang up but keep the call details in the queue. When the call reaches the top of the queue the system will place the call back and connect the caller with an agent.
Call screening: Call screening gives agents an idea about the identity of a caller, as the call rings, so they can decide if to accept the call or not.
Enable or disable the feature by selecting:
- No: Disable call screening. Note that this may override any routing related to the queue. If you don't want to override use...
- Unchanged (defaults to): Disables call screening without affecting any routing.
- Yes, and play caller ID: The system will play the caller ID of the caller to the agent before he decides to take the call.
- Yes, and ask caller to record (his) name: The system will prompt the caller to record his name and play it to the agent before he decides to take the call.
Music on hold: Hold music is always enabled for queues. Here you can change the current queue's music with Select Music or select Use Default to go back to the system's default music.
Each on-hold music selection can contain up to 10 audio files that will play in a sequence. When you select or change the music you can use the arrow buttons to switch back and forth between those files (indicated as 1/3 in the following example.)
On the Edit Music screen you can select Add Music to go to the Voice Features>Audio Files>Music on Hold options. After naming the music you can upload, record, or use text-to-speech to create music on hold sequence. See more about on-hold music and audio files here.
Ring Duration: Select how long the system will ring an agent (in consideration of the distribution strategy) before moving to the next agent.
Call screening is included in this duration and if enabled, you should select at least 20 seconds.
Auto logout agents if they miss a call: This can help you minimize unanswered calls from agents who left their desks without signing out of their account or the queue. Select Never or select how many calls an agent can miss before automatically being logged out of the queue.
Wrap Up Time: You can select a duration, from 0-300 seconds, for the system to delay sending calls from the queue to the agent to let him enter wrap-up notes in a CRM or perform other required tasks following the conclusion of a conversation with a caller.
Call Distribution Strategy
This determines the order in which the system selects the next agent to ring with calls holding in the queue.
There are two regular strategies – Circular and Linear. With a circular strategy, the system will look for the next agent based on the priority ranking of the agent who most recently answered a call. In other words, it cycles through all priority rankings in succession. Linear strategy, on the other hand, always starts finding agents with the top priority ranking.
With the two smart strategies the system first sends the next call to the agent who has been waiting for the longest, then handles additional calls with either circular or linear strategy.
The two regular strategies emphasize agents' level ranking while the two smart strategies ensure all agents are involved in answering calls even if they have lower priority levels.
- Linear: Always start at the highest: The system will always send a call to the agents with the highest available priority. If those agents are busy or unavailable, the system will move to the next level(s).
This strategy emphasizes agents with more experience or knowledge but may cause agents with lower priorities to be less involved for longer times.
This is the least even strategy for how calls are distributed between agents.
- Smart Linear, last that answered, then linear: The system will first send the next call to the agent who has been waiting for the longest since he last answered a call, then calls will be handled in linear strategy starting with the highest priority level.
This strategy involves more agents while still, overall, emphasizing agents with more experience or knowledge.
- Circuar: Start at next (level) from previous call: The system will deliver the next call to the next priority level in order based on the previous (recent) level that answered the call. It will continue to deliver calls to the next priority levels in succession. When reaching the lowest priority, the system will close the circle by starting again with level top level.
This is a more even strategy that gives no preference to any priority and will involve all agents.
- Smart circular: Last that answered, then circular: The system will first send the next call to the agent who has been waiting for the longest since he last answered a call, then calls will be handled in circular strategy starting with the recent priority level.
This is the most even strategy for how calls are distributed between agents.
Destination order within priorities: Here you can define the distribution strategy for agents who share the same priority
- Ring least recently called only: When agents share the same priority, the system will send the next call to the agent who has been waiting for the longest since he has been last called (least recently called).
- Ring all destinations at once: The system will ring all the agents with the same priority at the same time until one agent picks up. If nobody answers it will move to the next level or agent according to the distribution priority.
The agents who belong to the call queue appear here grouped under priority levels.
Select to edit an existing agent or ADD Agent to add one to the group and edit the following options:
Select agent destination type: Select Phone to add an agent based on his internal phone line, an External phone number, or a SIP URI address.
URI stands for Uniform Resource Identifier and it lets you add external recipients to the group based on their SIP IP and user name. The format to use is similar to an email address – username@domain or username@ip address.
Destination: Depending on the destination type, select either an internal phone line or enter an external phone number or a SIP URI address.
Priority: Select a priority level for the agent from 10 (highest) to 1 (lowest). Depending on the call distribution strategy, the system will try to first reach agents with higher priority.
Available for calls: This toggle lets you enable or disable the agent's participation in the group without having to remove him from the group.
When toggled off an agent will be shown as "Unavailble", meaning he is not available for queue calls but can otherwise still accept calls. Keep in mind that an agent that is "Available" still has to be logged in to his account on the TeleConsole app or physical phone and not have enabled DND mode to be able to receive calls.
Assigning Queues as a Destination
To use a call queue you need to assign it as a destination of one of the relevant Admin Center's routings and features. The most obvious choice is an IVR menu where callers will be directed to the queue when trying to reach a certain department. Another application is to use a schedule to direct callers from a phone number to a queue during busier times.
Assigning a Call Queue as an IVR Menu Key Option
To use a call queue from an IVR menu you need to assign it as a phone key that callers can dial:
- Go to Admin Center Menu>Voice Features>IVR Menus.
- Select the desired IVR menu and expand the Key Press Options settings.
- For the key you want callers to dial, select Hunt Group (found under Voice Features) as the Destination Type.
- Select the relevant queue as the Destination.
Don't forget to include instructions in the IVR Menu's greeting to direct callers to the queue (like "Dial 2 for sales" in the example shown here.)