High call volumes can be stressful for your customer service reps. Whether they are ‘positive’ phone calls related to product enquiries and sales or ‘negative’ calls where customers complain about your service, they can result in excessive workloads for your employees.
If your customers can’t reach an agent in time, this reflects poorly on your company. You may be seen as incompetent and unprofessional, which can significantly influence the success and growth of your business long term.
That’s why it’s essential to address these issues early so you can put the appropriate systems and personnel in place to deal with many calls.
To help you do this, we have outlined ten ways you can manage high call volumes to ensure that your efforts on growing the business aren’t cancelled out by the inability to address customer queries.
There are a variety of ways to manage high call volume. You can add additional communication channels, offer a call-back option, or outsource calls to a call centre. You can also provide self-service resources, analyse call data for trends and then forecast, or simply hire more staff.
All these implementations will help your business and customer service team be better equipped to manage busy call periods. But they aren’t the only tools you can utilise. Here are ten things you can do to handle high call volumes.
1. Provide self-service resources
When you get high call volumes, you’ll find that many customer enquiries can be grouped into specific categories. Examples of this can include asking about your opening times, popular products, a site-wide sale you’ve just implemented, or the pricing structure of your services – of course, this will vary depending on the exact products and services you offer. Still, you should be able to pick up certain call trends.
Instead of your customer service team having to repeat the same information over and over again to hundreds of callers, you can create self-service resources on your website. This is where you add information that will answer all your business’s typical questions.
You can include this on your website by having a frequently asked questions section or a help centre where customers can ask questions, and reps and other customers can answer them. Another option is to publish articles or tutorials in both written and video format that explains how customers can troubleshoot their problems by themself.
The average customer is more than happy to find answers on their own. They just need to know where to find the information to do so. That’s why it’s important to ensure that these self-service resources are easy to find and access, as this will encourage customers to do their own research before calling in. This addition to your website will reduce the number of incoming calls to your support team and will free up time so they can focus their energy on more serious calls and issues.
2. Add additional communication channels
Phone calls are one of the best ways to offer customer service since many people like to have their questions answered by a human being, but it’s certainly not the only way. Fortunately, there are numerous other channels through which you can help your customers.
One channel that’s been increasing in popularity over the last few years is the online chat tool. Online chats work similarly to phone calls but via messages on your website in real time. Online chat tools aren’t the only channel you can utilise. You can also use social media and email. The more communication channels you offer, the lower the number of inbound calls you’ll receive since the load will be spread across more than one channel.
As the phone lines begin to slow down, this relieves a great deal of stress and pressure from your customer service representatives. They will have more time to find the solution to a customer’s problem and can even work on multiple cases simultaneously, making it even more time-efficient.
3. Implement call queues
Call queues are standard among big enterprises and multinational companies but are often overlooked by small or medium size businesses. They are a great tool that can be used by any business when you’re receiving more calls than usual.
Instead of customers having to call in and hope they reach an agent – or be met with a ‘line is busy’ message – a simple queue system will add them to a ‘waiting list’. This has two benefits.
Firstly, it indirectly informs the customer that your business is currently experiencing a high volume of calls and that it may take some time before they can speak to someone.
Secondly, it queues callers on a first come, first served basis, meaning that those who call first will be attended to before others. This avoids the problem where a caller can be trying for 30 minutes with no luck in reaching an agent, whereas another customer can jump the line if they get lucky and happen to call at the exact moment an agent is free.
4. Offer a call-back option
Not everyone likes waiting in a queue. It can take up precious time from their day, which is why you can implement a call-back option in addition to a queue system.
A call-back service allows your customer service team to call back a customer at a later time instead of them waiting in a queue. This is great for when you cannot meet customer demand during busy parts of the day as it allows your business to distribute call volumes to times that are less busy.
5. Be honest with your customers
Increased call volumes can be frustrating for both your customers and your support team. One thing you can do to improve customer experience is by notifying them of your increased call volume.
A short and simple message that explains you are receiving a high volume of phone calls and that waiting lines may take slightly longer than usual goes a long way. It shows that your business and team are working hard to get through all calls and that you aren’t ignoring their enquiry. You can take this a step further by periodically adding a message that informs them what position in the queue they are in.
Being candid and honest will help customers empathise with your employees, which will also reduce their anger and frustration when they finally communicate with an agent.
6. Analyse your call centre data and forecasting
Analysing your call data and forecasting is fundamental in managing call volumes. There’s nothing you can do about random and unexpected spikes in volumes; sometimes, it just happens. But, if you analyse your call data regularly, you should be able to see trends and patterns that will help you plan ahead.
Did you see increased call volumes during a holiday period? Was it because you released a new product or service? Did you implement a marketing campaign with promotions and sales? Or was it due to something else entirely?
Your historical data will provide the information you need to forecast high volumes so you can be proactive and prepare accordingly.
7. Organise work rotas accordingly
This is perhaps an obvious point, but many business owners often disregard it; you should schedule most of your employees to be working during the busiest periods.
Whether that’s having the greatest number of agents working between certain hours of the day or during weeks when you expect to have high volumes of calls, ensuring you have the most customer service reps on the floor during these times is essential.
This also means that you should review if employees will be on vacation during particular weeks or if somebody is on sick leave, as this will affect the number of available agents. Data from analysing your call history will allow you to know how many people you need on the floor on a given day.
8. Hire more staff
Sometimes there are no two ways about it; you may just need to hire more staff. As your business continues to grow, adding more personnel to all your departments is inevitable, and your customer service team is no different. Not only does this help your existing staff members as it reduces their workload, but it will also improve customer satisfaction since they won’t have to wait as long to reach a rep.
Suppose your business has a large number of incoming phone calls only during short periods in the year, such as the Christmas holidays. In that case, you can plan ahead and hire temporary staff to meet demand during those weeks. However, suppose you are experiencing high call volumes regularly. In that case, you may need to find a more permanent solution.
9. Make sure your agents are trained well
Meeting your customer service goals is more than answering every phone call your business receives. It also has to do with ensuring your customers receive quality service in the most effective and efficient manner, and the best way to guarantee this is to have well-trained reps.
Providing high-level training to your agents will ensure that they are prepared on how to manage customer queries professionally whilst reducing the amount of time they spend on each call. The better the training your customer service team receives, the better equipped they’ll be to manage busy call periods.
10. Outsource calls to a call centre
For some small businesses, expanding your team may not be a viable option. Luckily, you can turn to another option: outsourcing your incoming phone calls to a call centre. These days, there are a whole host of affordable call centres both domestically and internationally that are specialised in providing a high standard of customer service.
You can personalise this to your needs. For instance, you can outsource specific calls to a call centre, such as calls about delivery problems or booking appointments. Alternatively, you can outsource all your calls to a call centre if it makes sense to do so.
Of course, outsourcing of any kind presents its challenges. However, it can be highly cost-effective and will undoubtedly help your business manage increased call volumes.
What is high call volume?
High call volume is when your call centre is experiencing more calls than usual or more calls than it can currently handle. This typically occurs when there aren’t enough agents on the phone to reach each inbound call in time.
What are the most common causes of a high call volume?
There are numerous causes, and they will vary depending on your business. But, the most common reasons are during holidays such as Easter and Christmas. It may also be when your website or services are down due to maintenance or service interruptions. A lack of training and competence can also cause high volume calls if agents aren’t efficient with each phone call. Lastly, successful marketing campaigns can cause a sudden influx of phone calls.
How to identify high call volumes?
If your business lines are ringing more than usual, your staff is unable to answer every inbound call on time, there is a build-up of voicemails, and you are getting negative feedback on waiting times for your phone lines, these are all tell-tale signs that you’re experiencing high call volumes.