Many businesses get faced with overwhelmingly large numbers of calls sometimes. For some businesses, call volume can be extremely high on a regular basis. This can be a good thing, because it can be an indication that business is strong and that there are a lot of potential customers wanting to know more about it.
Regardless of whether high call volume indicates growing business or something else, you need to be able to manage it. What you don’t want is to become overwhelmed by phone traffic and for people’s calls to start going unanswered. Thanks to growing technology, there are now quite a few tools that you can utilize for your business to help you out.
1. Utilize all your marketing platforms
In all likelihood, a large percentage of your incoming calls probably involve questions that can easily be answered by means of the various media that you employ. This includes your website, social media, etc. Be sure that all of these platforms are up-to-date with your basic information (operating hours, location, etc). Also, it wouldn’t hurt to have a Frequently Asked Questions section on your site.
In addition, you should make sure that all of the media that you use are connected to one another as you never know which platform people will come to first. Have a standard set of icons on each of your media (web, Instagram, etc) leading to all the others. This should take care of a fair percentage of your queries and allow your receptionist to focus on more complex questions.
2. Be sure that you have IVR enabled and provide an on-hold message
Not everyone who calls businesses is able to press buttons to get to different departments. Many people intensely dislike having to do this. Having an interactive voice response system established so that people can simply say what they want is critical for any business these days.
In addition, it is a good idea to have an on-hold message so that people have options other than simply waiting for an agent as they sit in the call queue. It is particularly useful to have a message that reminds callers to go to your website for information on x, y, and z; which repeats working hours; or provides any other information that you think could address likely questions and save callers time.
3. Consider using a chatbot
Many people aren’t fond of chatbots, it’s true. We’ve all had experiences in which the little robot face continues asking us the same question over and over regardless of what our answer was, leading us to practically throw our computer out the window in frustration.
The good news is that chatbots are being revolutionized by advancements in AI, and they are becoming more and more sophisticated all the time (some fear they are even becoming too similar to humans!). So adding a bot to your website could be a very effective way to answer customer questions. Be sure that you include a way for people to eventually reach an actual human, though, if their questions aren’t answered to their satisfaction. If potential customers feel that computers are their only resource, some of them will become frustrated and give up.
If you’re not sure whether a chatbot might be right for your company, look further into exactly how it works and what type of information it can provide. Being thoroughly familiar with how your technology works is a critical aspect of being able to communicate effectively with customers at all levels.
4. Live chats can also be helpful
If your business is large enough that you have the resources for more than one person to handle queries, you might consider a live chat option. Live chats give customers the opportunity to type in their queries and have them answered by real people. For a variety of reasons, people may be unable or not interested in calling, and having a live chat function can be an effective means of maintaining communication without the need for actual calling.
5. Implement an online scheduling system
If you’re running a business that involves scheduling appointments with customers, you might want to consider the implementation of an online scheduling system. Rather than having your receptionist go through the effort of filling out scheduling charts manually, you can invest in software that will allow your customers to fill in appointment slots themselves. This saves everyone involved time and effort, and it also minimizes the possibility of human error in scheduling conflicts, etc, as appointments become automated in the system once they are filled in.
6. Consider the use of skills-based routing
We all know what routing is. A customer calls a business and the system directs him or her to the next available agent. Skills-based routing is a bit more sophisticated than this. In this system, incoming calls are directed towards not simply an available agent, but one that can most effectively address the nature of the call.
In order to implement this type of system, it needs to be arranged in such a way that callers have the option of choosing whatever line suits their query best. For example, if you’re running a travel agency, you could offer various options to callers. First of all, you can give them different language options, if you have, for example, English and Spanish-speaking agents. You could offer choices of domestic versus international travel if these are different departments in your agency. Or perhaps you have different sections for transportation and accommodations. All of these can be set up automatically so that your receptionist doesn’t waste time directing calls manually.
7. Provide a callback option
If you face situations in which all of your agents are busy on a regular basis, you might want to offer callers a callback option. We all remember being online with Travelocity when Covid first hit and we didn’t know if our flights would be refundable or not, and the shock we felt when the system said that the wait would be 10 hours or more. No one wants to deal with this, of course.
Providing a callback option is an effective way to manage high call volume without having to direct people to automated systems. Giving people a precise amount of time within which they will receive their call back will make waiting much easier for callers.
8. Gather customer feedback
An important element of effective customer service is knowing what your customers want. Seasoned businesses should make it a point to gather customer feedback as comprehensively as possible so that they know what customer service options to provide. This applies both to things like call routing options, as well as what questions to include in frequently asked questions, etc.
If there is negative feedback about your company’s chatbot, for example, this is a likely indication that many people probably share the same frustration. If this is the case, you should look into getting an upgraded option. Otherwise, you may well be driving customers away.
9. Look at online reviews of your business
Another way to assess where you stand with your customers and potential customers is to look at third-party reviews. If people are complaining that your receptionist has a bad attitude, wait times aren’t worth the effort, or they often get directed to the wrong place, take note of this. Remember, all of this information is public, so you want to minimize the amount of negative reviews you get.
No one can eliminate these things altogether, of course, as there will always be angry people out there who simply want to take their frustrations out on anyone they can. But you can do your best by taking heed of the reviews you get and adjusting your customer service options accordingly.
10. Take note of what the competition is doing
Just as in every other aspect of your business, you should take note of the way your competitors handle call traffic. If other businesses in your industry are increasing sales thanks to a new and effective system, you might want to look into getting a similar one. If people seem dissatisfied with what they’re getting from your competitors, you should figure out why and make sure you don’t repeat their mistakes.
This is not to suggest that you should copy what your competitors are doing point-for-point. In fact, such blatant behavior might make you look weak and lacking in your own ideas. But you should definitely stay on top of the trends and assess what will work best for your business.
Make a plan according to your business’s needs
Some or all of these options can potentially help your business handle the high call volume. In the end, though, it is up to you and your staff to determine exactly what you need. If you are a relatively small business, then perhaps investing in a live chat option is not realistic for you. If your business really is growing out of control, then you should definitely look into automating certain aspects of your calling system, because a failure to answer calls can do serious damage to your business.