There are times of the year when you expect a high call volume, especially during the holiday season. Yet, what happens when you see an unexpected spike in call volumes? How can your contact center manage it effectively?
We’ve compiled a list of the top tips for handling unexpected volume spikes in your contact center to maintain an excellent agent and customer experience.
What is a high call volume?
Let’s start with the basics: high call volume is when the amount of phone calls a contact center receives arrives in bursts that are significantly higher than the predicted volume.
It’s important to note that to be defined as high call volume, a spike in calls must persist over a sustained period of time, which, depending on your business, could be two to three weeks.
In general, the industry standard for high call volume is a 10 percent increase from the normal level. However, for small- and medium-sized businesses, that figure can be significantly higher, depending on available resources.
Tips for managing high call volume
For many companies, dealing with high call volume isn’t as simple as adding headcount and moving on.
However, some common tactics can blunt—and in some cases, resolve entirely—these troublesome spikes in phone calls.
Here are some tried-and-true methods to deal with high call volume:
First, think about forecasting on a quarterly basis, so you can make informed decisions about adding headcount to your customer service team—and then establish data-driven forecasts that enable your team to drill down to monthly, weekly, daily, and even hourly rates.
One of the most powerful tools at a call center manager’s disposal is self-service.
By creating easily accessible and accurate articles in a help center—most often written by agents themselves—a company can reduce the need for customers to get on the phone in the first place. This tool also aligns with what customers want anyway: the means to help themselves.
Encourage customers to move to chat when things are busy
Another valuable tool to consider is adopting chat, another channel that customers have increasingly gravitated toward.
Nearly instantaneous, chat enables agents to share self-service content with customers, which enables customers to help themselves while the live agent moves on to other customer issues.
Because chat can be embedded in a company’s app or website, companies can make chat easy for customers to find, making it more likely they’ll choose that option over phone interactions.
Give agents the right tools
Support managers also should think about making the most of current headcount. One of the most effective ways to do so is by giving agents better workflow tools such as an omnichannel ticketing system.
Crucially, an omnichannel phone system provides visibility into past conversations with customers, which helps agents resolve calls faster and more efficiently.
Another effective tactic is to provide customers with the option of receiving a return phone call from a call center representative.
One study showed that 75 percent of customers prefer a callback to wait on hold, and providing that choice offers a host of benefits:
- Lower call abandonment rates
- Decreased costs
- Most importantly, a better customer experience
That said, be sure that callbacks happen in a timely manner.
How to deal with high call volume
With forecasts in hand and an arsenal of deflections tools—a software solution that includes self-service, live chat, and workflow apps—support managers can prepare their teams to gracefully handle unexpectedly high call volumes.
And by meeting the challenge of high call volume with proven, data-driven tactics, businesses can set themselves up to manage the expected—and the unexpected.