What is an Invisible Queue?
An Invisible Queue is a call centre queue where the caller is not made aware of how they are progressing – typically in a call centre.
Psychologically the different between a real life queue and a call centre queue are quite different.
Invisible Queue in a contact centre
The invisible queue in a contact centre relies on a technology called Automatic Call Distribution or ACD. This allocates the longest waiting caller to the next agent. While the person is waiting they are often played informative announcements or more frequently music on hold.
In a real life queue you start unhappy and tend (assuming the queue is moving) to get happier as you progress towards the front. In an invisible queue you start happy and get less happy as the call progresses.
Solutions to the Invisible Queue are to play messages announcing the Position in Queue or the Estimated Wait Time. These messages should be updated every 30 seconds or so.
When people give up on waiting in a queue (i.e. when they hang up the phone), they are referred to as an abandoned call. Here is a link to some interesting graphs showing how long people will wait in a contact centre queue.
Invisible Queue in a bar
An alternative definition of an invisible queue is one in a bar, or to a lesser extent a barber shop. Although people are not lined up in a queue, everyone takes note of who was there before them, and when the bartender says “Who is next” people tend to point to who has been waiting longest. This invisible queue system tends to rely on honesty and good will. It is more noted in some countries, such as in the United Kingdom