For a few years now, technology vendors have been pushing ‘call-back’ solutions. The basic idea is that if someone needs to speak to an agent, and the queue is too long, they can opt to get a call back. Sounds good, but it’s not quite as generally applicable as you’d think. I was chatting to a client today who put it perfectly: ‘call-back solutions only really work if you’ve got short, sharp spikes that you can’t predict’.

It’s so true. All these systems do is ‘time shift’… almost like BBC iPlayer allows you to watch a programme later. But if you don’t actually have enough spare time to sit through three soaps and the latest series of Sherlock, simply being able to watch them at a different time doesn’t actually help.

Thinking back to the call centre, the only real way to deal with hold times is to reduce volumes: either by reducing call drivers or increasing automation. If you can’t do that (or don’t want to) then sorry but you’re just going to have to put more bums on seats.

Call-back systems have a place, and you can even get sophisticated and agree a better time to call back, or give the option of calling back on a different number. I think it might be better to put that sophistication elsewhere – like automation – and focus on the real dilemma: stem demand or staff-up to meet it. Food for thought…


Topics: IVR Technology