Queues: How To Create and Manage Them

This article explains what call queues are, and how to create and manage them.

We use the call queue as a method to route calls to a specific department or group of extensions and it allows callers to continue to wait in line until someone is available to help, at which point the callers are connected to an agent.

When setting up a Queue is important to know that though similar to Ring Groups, a queue will not work the same way.

The main difference between the queues and ring groups is that a person can remain on hold in the queue for an extended period of time while an agent becomes available to answer the call.

As opposed to the ring groups, if nobody is available, the call will timeout, not allowing the person on the call to be able to wait until someone becomes available.

How to create a queue

Call queues can be created from the Customer Portal. Anyone with the PBX Admin user access is able to view and edit the queues area. To create a new queue, follow the steps below:

  1. Log in to the Customer Portal.
  2. From the Dashboard, find and click on the PBX Settings icon. Alternatively, find and click on the PBX Settings option from the top menu bar.
  3. Once the page loads, find the Queues Tab and click on it.
  4. You will see a green "CREATE NEW" button on the right-hand side. Click on it to create a new Queue.
  5. Next to the "NAME" box, proceed to add the desired name for the new queue. (This name should represent the department or functionality it will be used for. I.E., Sales Department.)
  6. On the following box, next to "Number," proceed to add the number that will work as an extension and will be used to reach this queue. (To avoid overlap with your regular business extensions, we recommend that your queue extensions are four digits long and your regular extensions 3. I.E., Extension #1010 is for the Sales Queue, and #101 is for the Sales Manager)
  7. In the next option, "Play to the caller", you will be able to choose from the following dropdown what you want to be played to the caller while they wait for their call to be answered.
    1. Music on hold (Callers will listen to music while waiting for their call to be answered.)
    2. Ringing (Callers will listen to the ringing line until it is answered.)
    3. Music on hold and then ringing once an extension is ringing (With this combination, the callers will listen to music as they wait for their call to be answered, and when there is a person ready for them, they will hear the line ringing before being connected.)
  8. Next, enter the queue "Time Out." (This is the time it will take before the queue times out, and it should be entered in seconds. I.E., For a time out of one minute, enter: 60 seconds)
  9. Next, enter the "Service Level." (This is the maximum number of seconds a caller should wait in the queue before their call is connected to someone in the queue. This is set for statistical purposes only.)
  10. The next step is to set the "Max Queue Length". (This is the maximum number of people that will be waiting in the queue at a given moment. For example, if you only have five people available to answer calls in this queue and all five are in a call, it will send the caller to a voicemail instead of keeping them waiting in the queue.)
  11. Weight - This option assigns the weight to the queue. (Queues with higher weight will get priority when a call comes and the calls will be sent to any free extension in that higher weight queue. The higher weight will get the first shot at available channels when the same extension is added on multiple queues.)
  12. Autofill - When enabled this option will continue to push more calls in the queue until all extensions are filled. (This happens either when there are no more callers waiting or no more available extensions.)

Creating the New Queue Extension's Settings

Once the main settings of the new queue are selected, the next steps are deciding on the extension's strategy options, which are:

  1. Strategy: the extension strategy option determines how the extensions will ring in the queue. 
  2. Ring when in use/offline: if this option is enabled, it will still send calls to the extension despite it being occupied.
  3. Available extension ringing: this option allows to set how the extension will ring.
  4. Report caller's hold time: when this option is enabled, the caller will hear how much time they have left to wait in the queue before their call is answered.
  5. Extension timeout: this option sets how long an extension will ring before timing out. This time should be set in seconds. I.E., 60 seconds, if the hold time is 1 minute.
  6. Wrap-up time: when a wrap-up time is assigned, this will allow the extension user time-off between one call and the other. This setting will not work if the extension is assigned to multiple queues.
  7. Wait time for retry: the time set here determines the wait time before ringing another available extension.
  8. Penalty members limit: A limit can be set to disregard penalty settings when the queue has too few members. No penalty will be weighed in if there are only X or fewer queue members.
  9. Auto pause: when enabled, it automatically sets the extension that is not answering a call on pause.
  10. Timeout restart: Sets whether the answer timeout of an agent is reset after a BUSY or CONGESTION signal. This can be useful for agents who are allowed to refuse calls.
  11. Extension Announce: this option allows you to choose the greeting/message you want to be played during the wait time before callers are connected to the queue.
  12. Extension confirm message: when the agent/extension confirms the message answer, it will play this message to invite you to accept the call.
  13. Max Call duration: this option, when set, will limit the call duration.

Setting Up The Periodic Announcements

The periodic announcement option allows setting up a time in seconds for announcements to repeat once a loop is completed. You will be able to choose if you want it to repeat from the beginning of the announcement or the end.

Setting Up The Queue exit key

Once the queue exit key is set, using this key will allow the caller to return to the main DID's menu and leave the queue. (Any number or special key on the phone's keyboard can be programmed to be used as the exit key on command.)

Setting Up The Call Back Service

The call service setting will help define the caller's I.D. number and if a call back will happen. It will also help with the settings to manage how often a call back is attempted.

Setting Up The Abandoned Calls

The settings here will allow adding an email to send abandoned calls to. You will also be able to choose if you want all abandoned calls to be automatically added to a call-back queue.

Setting Up The Position/Time Announce

  • Announce frequency: this setting will determine the time to wait between the start and finish of the announcements.
  • Announce hold time: this setting will allow you to choose if there will be a hold time after the announcement or not.
  • Announce position: depending on how long a caller will need to wait in the queue, this option will allow you to choose where to place the announcement thinking of the time the caller will have to wait.

Managing Call Queues

Once your call queue is created, managing it is very simple. Follow these steps to manage an existing call queue:

  1. Log in to the Customer Portal.
  2. From the Dashboard, find and click on the Settings icon. Alternatively, find and click on the PBX option from the top menu bar.
  3. Once the page loads, find the Queues Tab and click on it.
  4. On the queues tab, you will find any existing queues
  5. Click on the "Edit" pencil to open the queue management options
  6. This will show the same options used above to create the queue. The next step will be to locate the option or setting you wish to change and proceed to modify it.
  7. Once finished, click on the SAVE button to complete.

Note: Simply creating a queue does not mean the queue is in effect in your call flow. In order for the queue to be actually used, you have to route calls to it by making it part of your call flow via the DID.