Has Customer Wait Time Reduced in 2020? Study Says By 53%
A new study shows that callers on average had to wait for less time to get connected to a live agent--an important indicator of a better customer experience during the pandemic.
You may find this hard to believe if you have been waiting for a call center agent to answer your query. Nevertheless, data from a new study reveal that the pandemic may not have impacted customer experience as badly as we think it has. In fact, a study by Ozonetel, a provider of on-demand cloud communication/telephony solutions, shows that callers on average had to wait for less time to get connected to a live agent–an important indicator of a better customer experience during the pandemic.
Further, the study analyzed a large sample set of 150 million calls made on Ozonetel’s CloudAgent platform by nearly 76,659 active agents this year. And the analysis covered both in-bound and outbound calls made across various verticals including ecommerce, food, healthcare, insurance, Ed-tech and real estate call centers.
Here are improvements in some other parameters examined by the study.
1. Callers had to wait less
FINDING On an average, a caller waited 37 seconds to get connected to a live agent — an improvement of 53% against the 2019 average of 79 seconds. During the lockdown in the April to June quarter, real estate, food delivery and healthcare reported lowest queue time with an average 25.6 seconds. On the other hand, sectors such as e-commerce, Ed-tech and insurance reported the highest queue time of average 51.6 seconds. Interestingly, in the new normal during October to December quarter, e-commerce improved on this parameter and along with healthcare and food delivery reported lowest wait time for customers with an average 25.6 seconds.
INSIGHT Queue times decrease when there are more agents available to answer calls. This year the improvement in queue times is likely due to businesses ensuring they had a sufficient number of agents to handle calls. The spike during the pandemic was mostly in sectors that faced a sudden spike in call volumes. Today, most queue times have reverted to their pre pandemic levels.
2. Agents are finding things tougher
FINDING The average speed of answer in 2020 has been reported at 8 seconds against the 2019 average of 3.5 seconds. During the lockdown in the April to June quarter, real estate, food delivery and the Ed-tech sector reported the quickest response from agents with an average 18.6 sec. However, sectors such as e-commerce, healthcare and insurance reported slowest response from agents with an average 47.6 seconds. Noticeably, in the new normal during October to December quarter, e-commerce regained its customer satisfaction score under this parameter and joined real estate and food delivery to report an average of 18.3 seconds.
INSIGHT: This year many agents were forced to switch to work from home, and some in countries like India had to use their PSTN lines to answer calls. This mean that they could not use the auto answer facility that otherwise speeds up answer rates.
3. Customers are more impatient
FINDING the average percentage of calls that callers disconnected before being routed to an agent in 2020 was 15% as compared to 12% in 2019. During the lockdown period of April to June, the real estate, and food delivery and insurance sectors reported the lowest abandonment rate of average 35%. Sectors such as Ed-tech, e-commerce and healthcare, on the other hand, reported the highest abandonment rate of average 65%. In a turn of events, during October to December, food delivery and real estate improved and along with e-commerce reported the lowest abandonment rate of average 26%.
INSIGHT: This metric indicates how impatient the customer is. This year, though we have a clear decrease in average queue times, yet there is an increase in abandonment rates. This indicates that customers have become more impatient and expect faster service than before.
4. Agent Efficiency rises
FINDING In 2020, this number is 4 minutes as compared to 4.3 minutes in 2019. During the lockdown in the April to June quarter, insurance, food delivery and the Ed-tech sector reported the highest average talk time of average 4.6 minutes. Sectors such as e-commerce, healthcare and real estate reported the lowest average talk time of average 3.4 minutes. During the October to December quarter also, insurance, Ed-tech and food delivery reported the highest average talk time (Average 4.5 minutes).
INSIGHT: An increase in talk times can indicate that agents are unable to resolve calls fast enough or that customers need to speak more to explain their issues. Increased talk times in ecommerce and food delivery verticals indicate a change in the kind of conversations taking place. Meanwhile, reduced talk times, as in the case of healthcare and pharma, is likely to be due to the increased pressure on agents to close calls faster due to a corresponding increase in call volumes.
5. Wrap time improves
FINDING There has been a sharp increase in After Call Work, from 25 seconds in 2019 to 45 seconds in 2020. During the lockdown in the April to June quarter, e-commerce, food delivery and healthcare sector reported lowest wrap time of average 21 seconds. Ed-tech, real estate and insurance reported the highest wrap time of average 92.3 seconds. During the new normal period of October to December, e-commerce, food delivery and healthcare continued to report the lowest wrap time of average 25.3 seconds.
INSIGHT: One reason wrap times increase are when there are changes in what customers are saying, and agents cannot find an appropriate disposition code to tag this conversation. Another reason could be an increase in having to schedule follow up calls or SMS. With the changes this year, both these could be likely reasons for an increased wrap time. If this is the case, call center managers may need to edit and add new codes.
6. Outbound Calls rise
FINDING On average, across outbound call centers, agents dialled as many as 532 calls in comparison to 90 calls dialled in 2019. During lockdown in April to June, Ed-tech, food delivery and insurance sector reported maximum outbound calls dialled which is average 1013 calls. However, sectors such as real estate, healthcare and e-commerce reported minimum outbound calls of average 313 calls. In a turn of events, during the new normal of October to December, Ed-tech and insurance were joined by healthcare to report maximum outbound calls dialled of average 684 calls.
7. Average pickup / answer rate time improves
FINDING In outbound calling, a lot of calls dial to busy lines, or go unanswered. The average answer rate this year saw a decline, i.e. 38% as compared to 46% in 2019. During lockdown in April to June, real estate, healthcare and e-commerce sectors reported the highest answer rate of average 42%. However, Ed-tech, food delivery and insurance reported the lowest answer rate of average 20%. Interestingly, during this current quarter October to December, food delivery along with healthcare and real estate reported the highest answer rate of average 50%.