Call-Backs vs. Click-to-Call vs. Virtual Queuing

There are three frequently used terms in improving call center experience namely; call-back, click-to-call and virtual queuing. These terms are closely related and often confusing, so I’m going to explain the differences between them.

Of the three terms, this is the easiest to understand because it’s part of our vocabulary for ordinary calls: “Hi. Can’t talk right now. Call you back in 5?”

When used for a “person-to-company” call, call-backs can take several forms but what’s always common is that the direction of the call gets reversed. That is, you want to talk to Acme but the call comes from them to your phone.

These are several incentives for companies to offer call-backs:

  1. Smaller Cost
    In this type of incentive, companies pay premium in order to accept toll-free calls. It allows a company to make cheaper outbound calls. This is more applicable to smaller companies.
  2. Virtual Queuing
    To avoid keeping you on hold, contact center companies can offer call-back as an alternative. There are two options in this type; one, is you can get the call whenever there’s an agent available and the other one is you have to specify a time and is also called as “scheduled call-back”.
  3. Added Context
    Of all the three, this is the most powerful but used the least. This is where call-backs provide a more advanced way; like the web or smartphone to a standard phone-call, which is plagued with a very poor interface (no visual display and only a 12 button keypad). For instance, you could use the web interface to answer questions that the agent will need before the call. Or, if you are already logged in to a company’s website, the agent can skip the chore of asking security questions.

A call-back can be characterized on how it started. That is, how the conversation goes between you and the customer.  For example, you can dial-in and get the offer by automated speech (“To get a call-back when an agent is ready, press 1″). Or you can go click a button on the company’s website. Or you can tap a button on the company’s mobile app.

With that said, the term “click-to-call” is pretty straightforward. It is a web-triggered call-back.

As you can observe, the term itself is a bit misleading for it should really be “click-to-get-a-call-back”, but that’s too unmanageable.

Flaws in Click-to-Call

  1. In mobile cases, the industry is still undecided on what to do with it. In mobile app, when call-back is requested it is still generally labelled “click-to-call”. I’ve been saying that this case should really be called “tap-to-call”. (For instance, you use your mobile browser to open a webpage that has a click-to-call functionality. Is it really be called “click-to-call” or “tap-to-call”?)
  1. This term has a long history and has been connected with a very large range of products. For example, Vonage has a click-to-call feature that lets individuals put “call me” buttons on the web; a similar concept but stripped down to the bare minimum. Skype’s click-to-call product is totally different thing: a browser plug-in which triggers an outbound Skype call when you click a phone number.
  2. Click-to-call term consist of lots of confusing definition and even Wikipedia’s defined this term as click-to-talk, click-to-chat and click-to-text, is a form of Web-based communication in which a person clicks an object to request an immediate connection with another person in real-time either by phone call, Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP), or text. Surprising?  Isn’t it? Click-to-call is certainly not an alias for click-to-chat. That’s a different concept altogether. And I find it wrong in “immediate connection” part. (To be fair, though, the Wikipedia article corrects some of that further down the page.)

Based on the reasons presented above, if it were up to me, I would rather stop using the “click-to-call”. For it only creates lot of confusion to the market.

Virtual Queuing
Among the three terms, virtual queuing is the most specific. It is defined as “replacing hold-time with a call back”.

This concept has been around for over a decade. It’s a phone-based and somehow the same with “take-a-number” system that we’ve all seen at the driver’s license office.

Virtual queuing always requires a call-back. But the reverse is not true. That is, contact center might likely offer call-backs but you would still end-up waiting on hold after you answered the call.

Not all virtual queuing involves click-to-call. There can be a call center wherein you would be able to dial-in and offer you call-back when an agent is available to take your call. In fact, the most common type of virtual queuing today is called as “dial-in triggered virtual queuing”.

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