Managing High Call Volume in Call Centers with Cutting-Edge Voicebots
June 15, 2022
By Pavel Jiřík in Blog
An average call center receives 200 calls per day based on one study. What if your numbers are higher than that, though?
Having many incoming calls to your business has both good and bad sides. On the one hand, a high amount of calls every day most probably means your business is booming, and there are plenty of people interested in your products or services who trust you enough to ask your team for help. On the other hand, it may mean there’s an unexpected issue that you must take care of immediately.
But if you receive so many calls that your support team struggles to answer all of them, that’s definitely a problem. Your team can’t give each caller as much time needed to solve their issues because they have an ever-growing queue of people waiting. And the longer the line is, the bigger the risk that a customer will get sick of waiting and abandons the call or even possibly your company.
However, there are some handy solutions that you can adopt to redirect calls to other places, decrease call frequency, and dedicate more resources to your callers without rushing your agents or hiring more of them. Namely, conversational voicebots with voice biometric capabilities.
Read on to learn more about what is considered a high call volume, when it can become a problem, and how voicebots can help get your call volume under control.
What Is a High Call Volume?
High call volume is when your company receives more incoming phone calls than your contact center can handle. Usually, we can talk about a high call volume at a time when your team is receiving over 10% more calls than normal. However, if you are short-staffed, even less than that can become a significant problem for your team.
An important point here is that we are not talking about short, peak hours spikes in the number of calls you receive. While short spikes in calls can usually be managed easily, the problem starts once high call volumes become a permanent feature. That’s because they put extra pressure on your team if they don’t have the right tools and strategies in place. And if your team can’t deal with high call volumes effectively, your company may suffer far lower customer satisfaction rates, a much higher number of complaints, and maybe even lose those clients.
What Causes High Call Volumes?
Now, what can cause a high call volume to occur? There are plenty of possibilities:
- Annual events and holidays
- Sudden maintenance or changes in office hours
- Service or product issues
- An unexpectedly successful marketing campaign that drives a lot of traffic (which is a very good thing but can still put a lot of pressure on your team)
- Reduction in the number of agents in your team, e.g., if some of them leave or if they are busy with another task like training new agents
But there’s one more thing that can cause your phone queues to become overly long. A huge amount of the questions your team hears are simple, repetitive, and general questions. Despite being seemingly easy and fast to answer, they take a lot of your agent’s time and clog up the phone queue. The good news is that voicebots can help your team handle them smoothly, as we’ll explain shortly.
Is a High Call Volume a Good Thing?
As we said earlier, high call volumes can be both good and bad. A higher number of calls may show that your business is growing, especially if most callers ask about your products or services (for example, because of your newest marketing campaign). In that case, more calls mean greater interest in your offer and so an excellent chance for generating increased revenue.
An alternative scenario is when upset customers call your business with complaints (for example, because of a sudden issue with your product or discounted items quickly running out). Here, you can still turn the situation in your favor if your team responds to incoming calls quickly and manages to reassure all callers. In fact, researchers found out that customers whose complaints are handled smoothly can often turn into loyal customers and even brand advocates.
Whatever reasons callers might have for contacting you, they will expect to be connected with an agent without waiting long on hold. If your team can’t answer their calls quickly enough, customers may become impatient or upset with your business and not get back in touch again. That means a lost customer and a lost chance of a sale for you.
As such, identifying the reasons for experiencing high call volumes and working to fix the issues is a priority if you want to offer excellent customer service.
How To Identify High Call Volumes
Identifying whether you’re dealing with just a temporary spike in call volume or a more permanent increase is quite easy as the signs of the latter are fairly obvious:
- The phones ring far more often than usual
- You regularly hear complaints from your customers about long wait times and busy signals (and as a result, your customer satisfaction score is much lower than it used to be)
- You notice a far higher amount of abandoned calls in your metrics
- Your call center platform cannot handle the number of incoming calls
- Your agents complain about being overworked and having to rush calls
You can also have a look at the call metrics on your phone system to gauge if you have a problem with the amount of incoming calls and how serious the issue is. Most modern phone systems have reporting and analytic features that provide detailed data about the number of inbound and outbound calls each day, so you can easily compare how many calls you received last month, say, to now.
Looking at metrics such as average waiting times, customer satisfaction score, or the number of abandoned calls should also tell you a lot about how your team is doing. You can check out our previous article to learn more about those metrics.
What Is a Voicebot?
Whatever the reason for your call center receiving a much higher amount of incoming calls, you definitely can’t just leave the problem to solve itself. So what can you do? Adding more agents to handle calls would be one option. Still, hiring and training new agents will take some time and cost a pretty penny too. So, how about “hiring” a voicebot to help your team handle the influx of incoming calls?
Voicebots are conversational agents that use artificial intelligence and Natural Language Understanding (NLU) to interpret the intent and meaning of their conversations with callers. In the simplest terms, voicebots “translate” what the user is saying into text by using input voice recognition and a Speech to Text (STT) engine. Once the voicebot knows the user’s intent, it can form an answer and respond to the caller in everyday language through a Text to Speech (TTS) engine.
Since voicebots can have almost natural conversations with callers instead of just typing out answers, they are often referred to as conversational voicebots. The biggest difference from regular chatbots is that conversational bots don’t need to rely on static menus or pre-programmed questions and answers like regular chatbots do.
Instead, thanks to speech recognition and language processing, voicebots can listen to a caller’s request, analyze the meaning and context of the message received, and then act based on the information stored in their database.
Thanks to that, voicebots can do far more than basic chatbots can. Routing callers to the right agent or answering simple questions about office hours? Yes. But besides that, you can also use conversational voicebots to update customers on the status of their orders or assist them with updating personal information like an address or telephone number.
What Are the Benefits of Voicebots?
With conversational voicebots, you can go beyond the simple “Press 1 for sales” menu and offer your callers a much easier and more seamless way to reach your agents. And that’s just the beginning of what a voicebot can do - have a look at what else they could help your team with below.
1. Enhance the Customer Service Experience
A regular IVR menu in which callers must press specific numbers to be connected to the correct departments or agents and navigate their way through it can be irritating and time-consuming for customers.
On the contrary, conversational IVR (a voicebot) offers a much more flexible way for callers to contact support. They only need to tell the voicebot what they need, and it will immediately connect them to the right agent or provide the requested information. This makes it far faster for customers to find out what they want to know or solve their problems, even for someone who isn't exactly tech-savvy. And that also makes them far happier as well.
2. Offer 24/7 Customer Support
Customers don’t only expect that they will reach an agent as soon as they call, but they also want to be able to contact your company after business hours or during weekends. But unless you have a large team that can work in shifts, having your support team work 24/7 isn’t always doable.
Luckily, conversational IVR can be of help here as well. As they can work day and night without ever getting tired, voicebots can offer fast, round-the-clock self-service support to all of your customers. This ensures that they can get responses to their customer queries and issues whenever necessary. Be it during peak hours when all agents are busy, or even during weekends or holidays.
3. Enable Self-Service Options
Customers who can solve their own problems by themselves and without waiting are happy customers. And here’s where you can put conversational IVR to good use by helping customers to find FAQ links, update old passwords, cancel their subscriptions to a service, or request refunds. By doing so, your customers will feel empowered and self-sufficient, as well as being able to avoid having to talk with a customer service representative. This means less work for your agents as a result.
4. Improve Employee Satisfaction Rates
The biggest benefit of voicebots, though, is that they can help reduce customer service teams’ workloads, reduce stress levels, and improve employee satisfaction levels. As these smart tools can handle many callers simultaneously, answer the majority of their questions, and route callers to the right agent, conversational voicebots ease stress and pressure on customer service agents.
Plus, with far more time on their hands, agents can focus on the more complex and less tedious aspects of providing customer service.
How Can Voice Biometrics Help Your Agents with High Call Volume?
Voicebots are only one of the technologies that can help your agents handle a high volume of calls efficiently, and voice biometrics are another. For example, how much time does it take your agents to verify the identity of each caller? 20 seconds, 30, or maybe one minute in sensitive cases? Using voice biometrics can cut this verification time to just a few seconds.
If they don’t have to spend as much time asking callers for their logins, passwords, or security answers, agents can finish a call and handle the next one much faster.
Typically, if your agents have to deal with a sensitive issue (for example, payment problems), they have to spend extra time verifying the customer. But with voice biometrics, that’s no longer necessary. Because each individual has unique physical speech characteristics, voice biometrics can verify a caller’s identity by analyzing the way they talk and comparing it to a voiceprint stored in the system.
This way, customers can feel at ease knowing that their data is safe, verify themselves without remembering additional security questions, and also spend less time on calls.
As for your agents, the benefits are even better. Overall, using voice biometrics can easily reduce the Average Handle Time (AHT) by more than 30 seconds per call. If you add up those seconds for a whole week, the time savings for your agents can end up amounting to a lot. And the less time they have to spend on verifying customers (without cutting corners on security), the more time they will have for other tasks. As a result, their productivity will also receive a solid boost.
Whether the reason for an influx of calls is the festive season or your latest marketing campaign, you can’t just wait for the problem to solve itself. Getting overwhelmed with calls will take a toll on your agents, who may start doubting that their work will ever end. Not only that, but long hold times will also leave your callers angry and second-guessing whether or not you even want to help them.
Conversational AI can not only delight your customers by answering their questions in seconds, but it also makes the lives of your team members easier. And powered with a voice biometrics solution, your team can also focus entirely on customers' needs rather than asking multiple verification questions.
No matter what challenges you face with your company’s support team, voicebots are up to the task.