What Is Call Queuing? Defined and Explained

Call queuing is an essential yet often overlooked part of customer service operations. At its simplest, it’s a system that manages incoming calls, placing them in a line until a representative is available to answer. This process ensures that calls are answered in the order they’re received, minimising wait times and improving the overall customer experience.

But how does call queuing in call centre phone systems work and why is it so important? We’ll explain exactly what call queuing is and how it works to help you manage customer service efficiently and effectively.

What Is Call Queuing?

Call queuing refers to the process of managing incoming calls and placing them in a line until a team member is available to answer. It’s great for businesses aiming to streamline their customer service and ensure that no call goes unanswered. It’s especially important for sectors like hospitality, where swift and efficient handling of inquiries can greatly improve customer satisfaction levels.

At its core, call queuing allows your team to handle multiple calls simultaneously by prioritising them in a queue based on predefined criteria. These criteria might include the caller’s choice from an interactive voice response (IVR) menu or the time they’ve been waiting. The system ensures a more orderly and fair handling of calls, reducing the chances of customer frustration and improving average call handling time.

Key components of call queuing include:

  • Interactive voice response (IVR): IVR systems guide callers through a series of menus, allowing them to choose the nature of their call. This helps in directing them to the most suitable queue or department.
  • Queue management: This involves overseeing the call queue, ensuring that it operates efficiently, and making adjustments as necessary to improve caller wait times and overall experience.
  • Automatic call distribution (ACD): This feature routes incoming calls to the appropriate agent based on specific rules, ensuring that calls are evenly distributed among team members.

How Does Call Queuing Work?

Call queuing involves several key steps and technologies that work together to optimise the caller’s experience and the team’s call-handling capabilities. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how it works:

  • Incoming call: The process begins when a customer dials your number. Instead of being met with a busy tone if all lines are engaged, the customer has their call answered by the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system.
  • Call routing: The call is then routed through the automatic call distribution (ACD) system. Based on pre-set rules, such as the caller’s input on the IVR system or specific call routing algorithms, the ACD decides the most suitable queue or agent for the call.
  • Waiting in queue: While waiting to be connected to an available agent, the caller is placed in a virtual queue. During this time, they may hear music, promotional messages, or estimated wait times, keeping them engaged and informed.
  • Priority assignment: Calls within the queue may be prioritised based on several factors, such as the caller’s choice from the IVR menu, their customer status (e.g., VIP customers), or how long they’ve been waiting.
  • Agent connection: Once an agent becomes available, the ACD system connects the call. The selected agent will have access to caller information and previous interactions (if any), allowing for a more personalised and efficient service.
  • Post-call options: After the call, customers may be given options for feedback or directed to additional resources, enhancing their overall experience.

Throughout this process, the call queue management system provides real-time data and analytics, enabling you to monitor call flow, agent performance, and customer satisfaction levels. This continuous stream of information is excellent for making on-the-fly adjustments and long-term strategic decisions to refine the call-handling process further.

Call Queue Management Best Practices

You can get the best out of your VoIP call queue systems in several ways:

Prioritise Calls

Efficient call routing is the backbone of effective call queue management. Prioritise calls based on urgency, VIP status, or the nature of inquiry to promptly address critical issues. Implementing smart routing algorithms can significantly improve customer satisfaction by reducing wait times for important calls.

Monitor Queue Length and Wait Times

Keep a vigilant eye on queue lengths and wait times. Excessive wait times can lead to customer frustration and increased call abandonment rates. Use real-time monitoring tools to adjust resources dynamically, ensuring that queues are managed efficiently.

Offer Self-Service Options

Integrate IVR systems that offer self-service options for common inquiries or issues. This empowers customers while reducing the volume of calls in the queue, allowing agents to focus on more complex queries.

Use Callback Options

Implement a callback feature that allows customers to opt for a callback rather than waiting in a queue. This respects the customer’s time and can enhance their perception of your service quality.

Train Agents Effectively

Ensure your agents are well trained and equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to handle calls efficiently. Regular training sessions can help improve handling times and customer interactions, positively impacting queue management.

Analyse and Adapt

Regularly review call queue data and analytics to identify trends, peak times, and areas for improvement. Use this data to adapt your strategies, whether it’s adjusting staffing levels, refining call routing rules, or improving your IVR menus. Continuous improvement is key to maintaining an efficient call queue system.

The Benefits of Call Queuing

Call queuing offers huge benefits to any business that receives a lot of calls:

Improved Customer Satisfaction

Call queuing greatly reduces the frustration of long wait times and busy signals. When you manage calls efficiently and provide estimated wait times or engaging hold music, your customers feel valued and respected. This leads to higher satisfaction rates and a positive perception of your brand.

Enhanced Productivity

With calls automatically routed to the most appropriate agent, team members can focus on their areas of expertise, leading to quicker resolutions and more effective service. This maximises productivity, allowing your team to handle a higher volume of calls without compromising on quality.

Reduced Call Abandonment

A well-managed call queue system minimises the likelihood of callers hanging up due to long wait times. Features like callback options further alleviate the inconvenience of waiting, ensuring that more calls are answered and issues resolved.

Better Resource Allocation

Real-time monitoring and analytics provide valuable insights into call patterns, helping you to allocate resources more effectively. Understanding peak call times and common inquiries allows you to adjust staffing levels and training focus, ensuring your team is prepared to meet demand.

Increased First Contact Resolution (FCR)

By directing callers to the most suitable agent from the start, call queuing increases the chances of the problem being resolved immediately. This improves customer satisfaction and reduces the overall volume of calls.

Call Queue Management Considerations

While call queuing is clearly beneficial to most businesses, there are some things to consider before implementing a new call queue system:

Potential for Customer Impatience

Even with efficient management, long queues can lead to customer impatience. 75% of consumers hang up upon hearing a message about long wait times. Offering estimated wait times and providing engaging content during the wait can help reduce frustration.

Training and Resource Allocation

Effective call queue management requires well-trained agents and appropriate resource allocation. Continuously assess and adjust staffing levels and provide ongoing training to meet changing demands.

Technology Dependence

Relying on technology means any system failures can impact call queue management. Regular maintenance and having backup plans in place are important to ensure continuous operation.


You’ve learned the essentials of call queuing and how effective call queue management can greatly enhance customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

Your next steps should involve assessing your current communication needs, consulting with UK VoIP providers for solutions that fit your requirements, and considering a phased implementation to ensure smooth integration. Keep these insights in mind as you refine your customer service strategy.


What is a call queue?
A call queue is a virtual line that callers are placed in when all agents are busy, ensuring calls are answered in the order they were received.
How long should a call queue be?
Ideally, call queues should be as short as possible, typically not longer than a few minutes, to maintain customer satisfaction and reduce abandonment rates.
How do I manage call queues?
Manage call queues by utilising efficient routing strategies, monitoring wait times, offering callback options, and ensuring agents are well trained and resources are optimally allocated.
Written by:
Kale has over five years of experience writing on a broad range of business-related topics, including business technology, software, automation, human resources, employee engagement, and finance. He also holds a BSc in Sociology with a Minor in E-commerce and a certificate in Business Administration. Kale's easy-to-digest, research-driven articles stem from his passion for sharing knowledge with readers, and his bylined work has been published on Yahoo, BestMoney and a selection of SaaS sites.