High call volume, its cause, and how to manage it
High call volume (HCV) is a common issue faced by businesses that offer customer support services. When the number of incoming calls exceeds the capacity of a company to handle them, it can lead to long wait times, frustrated customers, and ultimately, a negative impact on the company’s reputation. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes of high call volume and explore strategies to manage it effectively.
What is HCV?
High call volume in contact centers refers to a situation where the number of incoming calls received by the call center exceeds the capacity of agents available to answer those calls on time. This can happen due to various reasons which are to be predicted and handled by the call center’s management.
When a contact center experiences HCV, customers may face longer wait times before their calls are answered or may even be placed in a queue. This can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction among customers and impact the overall customer experience.
Causes of High Call Volume
There are a variety of causes of HCV in contact centers. Here are some of the most common reasons:
Seasonal demand: Many businesses experience HCVs during specific times of the year, such as the holiday season, tax season, etc. For example, retailers may experience a surge in calls during the holiday season when customers have questions about shipping times, product availability, and return policies. During such seasons, the service providers may experience increased numbers of incoming calls, or queries.
Marketing campaigns: Companies that run marketing campaigns, such as a new product launch, a special promotion, or a contest, may experience a spike in call volume as customers call in with questions or to take advantage of the offer.
Technical issues: When customers encounter technical problems with a product or service, they may call the customer support team for assistance. If the technical issue is widespread, it can lead to a high volume of calls.
Customer dissatisfaction: Dissatisfied customers may call in to express their frustration or to request a refund or issue resolution. If a company is experiencing a high volume of customer complaints, it can lead to a higher call volume. Also, if customers have a poor experience with a business, they may call in to complain or seek a resolution.
Company announcements: Significant modifications to a company’s policies or offerings, such as new product launches, pricing changes, or mergers and acquisitions, can generate a high volume of calls from customers seeking clarification or assistance.
Staffing shortages: When a company does not have enough staff to handle incoming calls, it can lead to a backlog of calls and long wait times. This can be due to a variety of reasons, such as staff turnover, unexpected staff absences, or inadequate training.
Natural disasters or emergencies: The unexpected events such as natural disasters or emergencies can result in a surge of customer inquiries, particularly if the event impacts the company’s products or services.
High call abandonment rate: If a contact center has a high call abandonment rate, it ultimately leads to staff shortage. Such situations may cause an increase in call volume as customers may attempt to call multiple times to get through to an agent.
Effective management of these causes is crucial for contact centers to provide excellent customer service while maintaining operational efficiency.
How to Manage HCV
Managing HCV is critical for contact centers to deliver and maintain excellent customer experience and to operate efficiently. Here are some strategies that can help contact centers manage HCVs:
Implement call routing: Call routing is a system that automatically directs incoming calls to the appropriate customer support agent. By using call routing, companies can ensure that customers are connected to the appropriate agent to address their concerns based on factors such as language, skill level, and availability. Optimizing call routing can reduce wait times and improve customer satisfaction. For example, a customer with a technical issue can be routed to a technical support agent, while a customer with a billing question can be routed to a billing agent.
Use Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems: IVR systems allow customers to interact with an automated system to find answers to their questions or to complete simple tasks such as checking their account balance or updating their contact information. This can help reduce the volume of incoming calls and allow customer support agents to focus on more complex issues.
Offer self-service options: Self-service options, such as a knowledge base or a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, and chatbots, can empower customers to find the answers they need without having to call customer support. This can help manage the HCV and allow the agents to devote their time on other issues.
Increase staffing levels: One of the most effective ways to manage HCV is to increase staffing levels. This can be achieved by hiring additional agents or using temporary staff to handle peak call periods. However, adding staff can be expensive and time-consuming, so contact centers should analyze call volume trends to determine staffing levels.
Provide staff training: Adequate training can help customer support agents handle calls more effectively. This also includes providing training on active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution. This can lead to a shorter waiting period, reduced call times, increased customer satisfaction, and ultimately, a lower call volume.
Use call-back technology: Call-back technology allows customers to request a call-back from a customer support agent when the wait time is too long. This can help reduce customer frustration and can reduce the burden on the agents as HCV may also decrease.
Monitor call volume data: By monitoring call volume data, companies can identify patterns and trends that can help them better anticipate HCVs and adjust staffing levels based on historical data and expected call volume trends. This can help to prevent call volume from exceeding the capacity of available agents, which can lead to long wait times and poor customer experience. For example, if a company knows that it typically experiences an HCV during the holiday season, it can hire additional staff in advance to handle the increased volume.
Offer multi-channel support: Customers today expect to be able to contact companies through multiple channels, such as phone, email, chat, social media, and messaging apps. Offering multi-channel support can help to distribute call volume across different channels and reduce pressure on the phone lines.
Use analytics tools: Analytics tools can help contact centers identify call volume trends and patterns, as well as customer preferences and behavior. This information can be used to optimize call routing, staffing levels, and self-service options to improve customer experience and reduce call volume.
Communicate with customers: During periods of HCV, it is important to communicate with customers regularly to keep them informed and manage expectations. Contact centers can use pre-recorded messages, automated SMS alerts, or social media posts to update customers on wait times and provide alternative support options.
Continuously monitor and improve: Managing HCV is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and improvement. Contact centers should regularly review their call management strategies and adjust them based on feedback and data to ensure they are providing the best possible customer experience.
Overall, managing HCV is essential for contact centers to maintain customer satisfaction and operational efficiency. By using a combination of the listed strategies, contact centers can effectively manage HCVs while providing exceptional customer service.
High call volume is one of the most common and significant challenges for contact centers, and its causes can vary from seasonal spikes to unexpected events. When left unmanaged, high call volume can lead to long wait times, frustrated customers, and decreased customer satisfaction.
However, contact centers can use a variety of strategies to manage high call volume effectively, by implementing certain strategies and continuously monitoring and adjusting their call management approach, contact centers deliver excellent customer experience, and maintain smooth operations, even during periods of high call volume.