How a Contact Center Should Manage Queues (Copy Disney!)

Have you ever thought that running a contact center is a bit like running Disneyland?

Probably not.

But there is a least one way they overlap – queuing.

Disney has been developing smarter queuing systems for over fifty years. They process millions of customers in countries all over the world.

They know what they’re doing.

So here are four Disneyland queuing tricks that the contact center can learn from…

1. Disneyland uses priority routing

Visitors to the Magic Kingdom can buy VIP tours or upgrade their stay to ‘club level’.

Which means… jumping the queues. (Among other benefits.)

They know that there will always be some queuing – they’re aiming to mitigate, not eliminate.

But – if you hand mickey some extra cash, you can dodge the queues. Naturally, this seems like a good deal for plenty of holiday goers.

What can the contact center do with this?

Well, you probably shouldn’t charge users to jump the queue.

EE, a British network operator, tried this in 2014. It must have made sense to them – if you don’t want to queue, just pay 50p and you’ll get served first.

The problem – obviously – was reputational damage. They faced a social media firestorm from users who threatened to leave the business.

If even a handful of customers genuinely walked away, that would certainly obliterate any income the small charge could generate.

However – what Disney has set up is basically priority routing. And that is something you can do.

But rather than basing priority on a simple transaction, you can base it on all kinds of customer data.

By integrating your ACD systems with data from CRM, Helpdesk and elsewhere, you can create priority customer profiles based on:

  • Live Helpdesk tickets
  • VIP customers profiles (long-term loyalty and big spenders)
  • Recent complaints
  • Frequent calls to your business

What’s the benefit?

Disney knows that you can’t always shorten your queues. But you can apply some intelligence to how you help the people queuing.

In their case, it’s about selling quick access. For the contact center it’s about prioritizing high-value or high-risk customers.


2. Virtual queuing is a must-have

Virtual queuing seems so obvious that it’s surprising when a contact center doesn’t use it.

The Disney version is simple. On certain rides – especially ones favored by young children – you don’t need to stand in a line.

Instead, they give you a pager. You can’t just head off anywhere (because people would steal the pagers) but you don’t have to stand in line either.

You get to roam around a fun area full of play equipment until it’s time to board the ride.

What can the contact center do with this?

The contact center can do… well, virtual queuing

To be more precise: you can keep customers in the call queue but also let them hang up the phone.

Getting stuck on hold is basically customers’ least favourite pastime. But your IVR is perfectly capable of moving a customer through a queue without keeping the customer on the line.

All you need to do is integrate the queuing system with an outbound dialer. Once an agent is free, the dialer places an outbound call and you can resolve the customer’s issue.

What’s the benefit?

10 minutes on hold seems a lot longer than 10 minutes doing… well, anything else. Customers appreciate having the option for virtual queuing and 75% describe it as ‘highly appealing’.  

Call abandonment drops off a cliff, and your agents can look forward to speaking to less stressed customers.

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3. Disney know who’s coming through the doors

Disneyland has one queue where speed matters more than anywhere else.

It’s not Thunder Mountain. It’s not Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s definitely not the Small World ride.

It’s the entrance gate.

Their solution is the MagicBand. It’s a wrist strap with an RFID chip, and it has all kinds of functionality. (Don’t get me started…)

Crucially, the MagicBand lets you get into the park without presenting a ticket. All you have to do is scan it.

What can the contact center do with this?

For years, it has been possible – even easy – to automatically identify callers.

In fact, thanks to CTI it’s even easier for your contact center than it is for Disneyland.

(You can read ‘what is CTI’ here.)  

There’s always some piece of data businesses use to identify incoming callers, often a Customer Reference Number (CRN) or similar.

But, every customer already has a number you can reference them with: their telephone number.

With CTI you can identify the vast majority of callers who will use their home or cell number to contact you.

What’s the benefit?

How much time do customers waste looking through old letters and emails for their CRN? A number which serves no other purpose?

I know a lot of contact centers hardly think about the part of a customer call before they’re routed. But it’s still a very real part of the call experience for them. This is one way to massively reduce it.


4. Users can pre-book experiences

This could be one of the simplest, most effective things Disney does – but hardly any contact centers think of it.

Disney has a resource called MyDisney Experience. Again, this has a lot of functions but only one we’re interested in: it lets you pre-book rides.

Sounds basic enough? But here’s the clever bit – Disney uses this to move visitors from the peak times to the slow times.

If you want to guarantee your magic carpet ride, you have to take an available slot. In other words, they spread their traffic.

What can the contact center do with this?

It’s really simple; offer customers a guaranteed, zero-waiting call if they book ahead of time.

(Obviously, the only times you’ll offer will be when there’s generally low contact volume.)

This is a lot like virtual queuing – except the customer doesn’t even have to call. This is something you can offer from a variety of self-help tools before IVR, like a chatbot or a simple online booking portal.

Plus, it’s another feature that would be very easy to set up. Just like virtual queuing, you’ll integrate your outbound dialer – only now you’ll integrate it with a booking tool.

What’s the benefit?

This process will help you to flatten peaks in your demand by moving some non-urgent calls to your off-hours.

And, like any good customer-focused innovation, it will have a positive impact on how customers feel about you!

Is there a theme here…

Apart from Disney? Yes – the theme is integration.

Any of these novel approaches to queueing will be a net benefit to your contact center. All of them combined? That’s Disney level service!

But to get there, you need the ability to integrate your various tools.

In our experience, the best approach is to integrate with APIs so you can create automated processes across them.


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