What happens when you call a service number or any other phone number? As soon as the called party picks up the phone, the call is billed, regardless of whether you talk to a real person or end up in a call queue. However, German lawmakers plan to pass a bill which would mean that queuing has to be free of charge.
So far, this is only planned for Germany, but I can well imagine that regulations for free call queues could also be made in other European countries sooner or later, so carriers and service providers in other countries should also be prepared.
In Germany, the industry is not very happy with this legal endeavor because it is very difficult to accomplish technically. The draft regulation proposes that free queues have to be available for calls from fixed and mobile phones, pre- and post-paid.
For off-line calls this is not so much of a challenge. You take the call data records and deduct the time spent in the queue.
However, pretty much every call that you make is an online call. It can be routed through multiple queues, even outside the public network and each has to be free of charge. I can think of two ways around this issue.
The first is to play a ring back tone or corporate ring back instead of connecting the call to a queue. This tone could tell the caller to stay in the line until the next agent is available. Only when the agent actually takes the call, it is connected and can be billed. The disadvantage: you can only do this for two minutes. After that the call is disconnected.
The second way is the implementation of a network-based waiting queue with off-line billing. This is a solution which ECT offers. If you want to know more, don’t hesitate to get in touch.