Call centers are often unpredictable places. One minute, your team’s agents may be enjoying a calm day with a normal flow of phone traffic, but within minutes, the center can be inundated with more calls than ever anticipated.
These sudden surges in traffic aren’t just hard on your team; they are bad for business, too. According to HubSpot, 57% of consumers rate long hold times as the most frustrating part of seeking customer service.
With that being said, we’re here to break down the phenomenon of high call volumes and provide some actionable tips to navigate those unexpected volume spikes to help you keep your customers and agents happy.
What Is a High Call Volume?
Think of a high call volume as the digital equivalent of a packed restaurant: You have more calls coming in than your agents can handle simultaneously, and as a result, calls start to pile up, customers experience long wait times, and your support agents take call after call for hours on end.
Many companies quantify high call volumes using percentages. For instance, if you are receiving 10% more calls than your team can reasonably handle, you would classify that as a high call volume.
What Causes Call Center Call Spikes?
Call center call spikes can be attributed to factors such as:
- Product Launches or Updates: Launching a new product or pushing out a major software update will certainly lead to a surge in customer calls
- Technical Glitches: Your customers will be frustrated and will let you know whenever their favorite app crashes or they are locked out of their account
- Promotions or Sales: Running a promotion is great for your bottom line, but it can prove challenging for call centers
- External Events: A natural disaster or global crisis may be outside of your control, but it can still lead to an influx of calls
Regardless of what causes a spike in call volume, you must adapt and overcome it.
9 Tips for Managing High Call Volume
Here are nine of the top strategies to keep things running smoothly amidst call volume spikes:
Set up a robust FAQ section on your website so that customers can easily find answers to common inquiries, like how to reset a password. Also, consider implementing an interactive voice response (IVR) system to handle some of those simpler calls. Sometimes, your customers just need to be pointed in the right direction.
Implement an Online Chat Tool
Chatbots are great for engaging with site visitors, answering common questions, and resolving basic support requests. Even if a chatbot can’t solve a customer’s problem, it can fulfill their desire for immediate feedback and gather some preliminary information for your team.
Offer a Call-Back Option
Long queue times are a major point of friction for customers, so consider offering your customers the option to get a call back instead. They can get on with their day while they wait for your support team to clear up its backlog of calls.
Adjust Your Scheduling
Timing is everything. Analyze call trends and adjust your staffing schedules accordingly. For instance, if Mondays are hectic and Wednesdays are calm, reallocate some of your mid-week staff to alleviate the Monday madness.
If you only have one shift of support agents, using such a strategy can be a bit trickier, seeing as you don’t have a second shift to pull from, so you may have to reassign other personnel to assist with Monday’s high call volume.
Use Online Scheduling
On the topic of schedules, consider an online scheduling tool through which customers can book a slot to speak to an agent. It’s a win-win, as customers won’t have to wait, and customer support agents will get a heads-up about the problem they are about to be tasked with solving.
Crunch the Numbers
Dive into your analytics and consider factors like peak call times, your busiest days, how many calls are escalated to a supervisor, and so on. The more you know, the better you can prepare for future volume spikes.
As you break down the numbers, make sure to look at things holistically. For instance, if call volume has been down for the last few months, don’t assume things will continue trending in that direction. Look back to the same time period from the previous year to determine whether you are about to encounter a seasonal spike.
Hire More Staff
Sometimes, there is just no way around it: If call volumes are consistently high, it might be time to expand your team. That said, you need to make sure you don’t hire too many people, especially if a surge in call volumes is only temporary. For example, you shouldn’t double your support staff for the holiday shopping season, as that wave of calls will only last a couple of months at most.
Upgrade Your Tech
Ensure your call center’s tech stack is up-to-date. The latest software can help route calls efficiently and provide agents with the info they need to resolve problems quickly. When exploring opportunities to upgrade, make sure to include your team in the process — there are no better people to help you decide on the tech to adopt than those who will use it daily.
If your team is stretched too thin and you don’t want to endure the hassles of hiring, consider outsourcing. Partnering with a high-volume call center is the faster (and often best) way to solve your support challenges. Top providers can save you money, connect you with a talented team of agents, and deliver robust omnichannel support.
Volume Spikes Are a Good Thing — If You Can Handle Them
If you are receiving a high volume of calls, you might be a bit concerned, but the reality is every one of those calls represents a customer who is trying to resolve a problem. If your team can handle heavy call volumes, you are going to nurture customer loyalty, turn bad experiences into good ones, and set the stage for the continued growth of your brand.