In the business world, ringing telephones, especially in your sales contact center, are one of the best sounds you’ll hear. The more calls you get, the better it is for your business.
However, getting excessively high call volume without preparation can be challenging for most businesses. When your call volume overwhelms your staff, it can ultimately cost your business and create poor customer service. Thus, it’s important to learn how to manage high-volume business calls.
In this article, we’ll share the basics of high call volume, why it occurs, and its impact on your business when not managed properly. Then, we’ll enumerate several tips and strategies that can help you handle high-volume business calls. Let’s start!
High Call Volume: What Is It?
High call volume refers to a situation when the number of business phone calls your contact center receives occurs in bulk and is significantly higher than your predicted or usual volume. On average, the industry standard for high call volume is about a 10% increase from the contact center’s daily normal level. However, for medium- to small-size businesses, this figure can be higher, depending on the available resources.
Also, in order to be truly defined as a high call volume, the spike in your phone calls should continue over a specific period, which could be 2-3 weeks, depending on your business.
Why Do You Get A High Volume Of Business Calls?
There are several reasons why a business might experience a high call volume. These include:
- Holidays And Seasonal Activities
One of the most common causes of high call volumes is holidays or seasonal business activities like annual events or special promotions. Oftentimes, this occurs at critical times of the year, causing your company to experience a surge in calls after or during the event.
- New Corporate Initiatives
When your business launches new corporate initiatives, you can expect an increased volume of business calls. From launching new services or products to implementing a new marketing initiative, like leaving once-in-a-lifetime offers via Drop Cowboy Ringless Voicemail & Text technology, new corporate initiatives can garner more attention to your business and potentially increase your phone call volume.
- Internal Problems
Sometimes, your call volume may be a bit higher than the normal level, but it feels like you’re taking too many calls. In this case, your contact center may be at fault. If your customer service department is poorly organized or your agents aren’t trained properly or don’t have access to the right tool, it can lead to backlogs which can pump up call volume.
The Impact Of High Call Volumes On Your Business
High call volume can be a good sign that your business is doing well. However, mishandling high volumes of business calls is never good. If not handled properly, it can result in missed calls (when customers are sent to voicemail or no one answers) and abandoned calls (when a customer disconnects while on hold).
According to estimates, call abandonment can cost a business up to 40% of potential revenues every year. To give you a better idea, here’s an example:
Say you’re spending about USD$35,000 on your marketing every month, and you get 2,500 inbound phone calls. Each abandoned or missed call can cost you USD$14. Miss 40% of those calls every year, and you’re essentially throwing USD$14,000 out of the window.
In addition, if the high call volume tends to happen frequently at the same 40% abandon call rate, you may be losing considerable revenues. For instance, if your average sale is USD$100, you could lose up to USD$100,000 per month in sales during a period of high call volume. That’s a significant loss in just a month.
Other than hurting your revenues, unmanaged high call volume can cause a negative customer experience. If your customer service doesn’t measure up to expectations, customers will share their negative experiences with their close circle, damaging your reputation and further costing your business. It can chase your existing customers away and cause prospects to avoid doing business with you.
Mishandled high volume calls can also impact your customer service team. Long waiting times and poor customer service create angry, dissatisfied customers that lash out at your customer service representatives, eroding their morale. That and the fact that your representatives are already overwhelmed with the influx of callers can further diminish their productivity and job satisfaction, which also results in poor customer experiences. It’s truly a vicious cycle.
You must know what to do when you experience a high call volume, given its numerous negative impacts.
Tips And Strategies To Manage High Volume Of Business Calls
High volumes of business calls can be stressful. However, there are several things that you can do to help your contact centers properly manage and overcome periods of high-volume business calls.
1. Offer A Callback
Waiting on hold can be annoying. And during periods of high call volumes, customers may have to wait 30 minutes to an hour just to speak with an agent about their concerns. By the time an agent is available, customers are likely to be upset and angry. Also, most customers don’t have that time and just end the call, which can hurt your business image.
One solution is to adopt a callback option. With this strategy, your call agents can provide customers with the opportunity to get a call back later instead of wasting their time waiting on hold. This callback option can help save customers time and frustration while allowing agents to distribute the call volume evenly throughout the day.
To further enhance the callback solution, you can also try using a phone dialing system like Power Dialer software. Such systems automatically add a phone number to a call agent’s calling queue and dial them in sequence for a callback. This helps eliminate the repetitive manual task of searching, copy-pasting, and dialing numbers, as well as avoid forgotten customers on your callback list.
2. Do An Analysis
Some spikes will be unexpected. However, you can limit these nasty surprises by keeping a close tab on your customer service center data. Look at your historical data over the past years and look for trends where your call volume starts to spike.
Identify the outliers and determine the causes. Did the company release a new product or service at that time? Were there seasonal offers and promotions going on during the call volume hike? Was there a public relations (PR) mistake that caused customers to criticize the company?
With better insights into the causes of previous increases in your business call volumes, you can spot similar scenarios ahead of time and allow for a faster response and better preparedness.
3. Establish A Self-Service Portal And Resources
If the majority of customers during a high call volume period ask general questions, one way to solve this issue is to offer self-service portals or resources on your website and social media platforms.
Instead of calling your business, customers can refer to these self-service resources like a frequently asked questions (FAQs) page or knowledge base, ultimately reducing the number of calls you receive. The more informative and extensive the self-service resource, the fewer questions a customer will have when they decide to reach your representatives. Or it can also completely answer their question, so they don’t have to call your business.
In general, your business’s website can provide questions about:
- Operation hours
- Pricing structures
- Specific products or services how-tos
- Details about promotional offers
- Pandemic-related changes
4. Offer More Customer Service Channels
Increasing the number of your communication channels is another way to help reduce your inbound calls. Also, today’s customers demand and expect businesses to provide them with multiple contact channels for their convenience and choose the one they prefer.
Some of the great ways to communicate with your customers are email, live chat, and social media. In particular, chatbots and live chats are effective means of customer communication. Chatbots are powered by artificial intelligence (AI), ensuring instant and real-time communication with your customers. AI-powered chatbots help with self-service portals by answering basic issues and questions of customers promptly without human intervention, significantly reducing call volumes.
And if a chatbot isn’t enough to answer a customer’s question, having a live chat tool allows you to connect them to available agents to answer their questions without calling your business directly. Better yet, if your company already has a self-service resource, your agents can send links to these pages through online chat, further reducing the communication time.
5. Be Strategic When Scheduling Agents
Depending on your business and customer geography, the exact timeframe when you receive more calls tends to vary. However, a few days of tracking your call frequency can help establish a pattern. Then you can schedule more employees during your peak call times to help your contact center better manage high call volumes.
In addition, if you’re anticipating a surge in business calls, you want to be strategic in scheduling. You need to make sure that you have enough agents to manage the increase in call volume. Also, take note of any agents on sick or vacation leave that may affect the number of active agents during the expected surge.
6. Hire More Customer Service Representatives
Sometimes, a high call volume may not be temporary. If you’ve been getting a surge of calls for a few weeks now, then it may be a sign that your business is growing. The more customers you have, the more agents you’ll need. Thus, expanding your customer service team can help you address high call volumes. It also helps reduce the workload of current employees, preventing burnout.
Some businesses hire temporary representatives during anticipated periods of increased calls, such as during holidays. Others choose to hire permanent workers, especially when they see evidence that their call volume will stay high in the future.
Either way, hiring more agents is an effective way to handle and manage high volumes of business calls.
7. Consider Outsourcing Your Contact Center
If your current customer service team is struggling to manage high call volume and you think you’re not ready to hire more employees, a good alternative is to outsource your contact center.
For most small businesses, this is a more logical option to stay on track with their customer service goals. You can outsource specific customer calls, such as scheduling and managing appointments or general information queries. This helps reduce the workload of your current team, allowing them to focus more on detailed and more serious concerns.
Take note, however, that external call centers may be managed by businesses without any affiliation to your brand or products. Thus, they may not have the same standards and procedures that your customers have come to expect, reducing satisfaction. So, make sure to vet third-party contact centers thoroughly before hiring them.
8. Invest In An Interactive Voice Response System
Ideally, a customer should get an immediate response when they call your support line. However, they don’t have to speak to a human agent, especially during periods of high call volumes.
An interactive voice response (IVR) system can mimic human reps and automate the distribution of calls to the rest of your team. So, instead of being placed on hold after dialing the support line, an IVR can provide customers with options to choose from. Each option directs the customer to a resource or a specific agent that can help. This can help reduce the number of calls that reps have to answer as well as the number of transfers made.
High business call volume can push your customer service department to its productivity limit. It can increase your abandoned and missed calls, which can negatively impact your business. Furthermore, it can chase away your customers, stress your team and ultimately drain profits from your company.
For your business to thrive and survive, you need to learn how to manage high call volumes better. The next time you experience high call volume, make sure to implement the above tips and strategies so you can beat this challenge, improving customer service and boosting overall profitability.
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