Coping with High Volume Calls

Telephone traffic requires an immediate response.  That sets it apart from any other communication medium.  If you are receiving high volume calls, the challenge gets even bigger.
Secretary with phones

This is a broad subject but I would like to focus on a specific area that I don’t often see addressed:

How to create a simple system of measurement to identify the most effective way to cope with your high volume calls.

Knowledge is Power: It is very tempting to immediately jump into planning tactics for dealing with high volume calls.  Let me share an experience that I had with a client that illustrates the value of examining your situation in more depth first.

The company I worked with is one of the country’s largest banks.  They have several enormous call centers but they were still struggling to keep up with their call traffic.  Their executives had come to the conclusion that they were going to have to add more capacity through additional hires, hiring an outsourced call center or even doing both.

I insisted on an initial research phase and made a startling discovery.  At one of their call centers 50% of their traffic was “misdirected”.  Callers should never have contacted that center to begin with.  Further investigations revealed that what was generating the high volume calls were poorly designed listings in phone books.  They had dozens of numbers and had failed to list the most commonly called number first.  The company didn’t anticipate that most people would simply call the first number they saw.  A simple redesign of their listings made an enormous dent in their problem.  It didn’t reduce their over-all volume, but it did send traffic where it actually belonged, reps were not tied up questioning callers and then having to re-route them and call handling times dramatically improved.

Lesson Learned: This company made some big assumptions about what their high volume calls were and what was generating them.  It nearly cost them a fortune to solve the wrong problem.  It really pays to measure, not guess at what you are dealing with.

Measuring doesn’t have to be sophisticated.  You may not have an automated system that allows you to easily track calls by type.  Something simple can still be very effective.

Identify someone in your company who handles calls daily and have them create a list of call types (ex. sales calls, customer service calls, complaints, misdirected calls, etc.).  Use these call types to create a “tick” sheet that will be distributed to everyone.  Every time someone finishes a call, they should make a “tick” under the category the call belonged to.  At the end of their shift, they should total the calls under each type and turn the sheet in to a supervisor.  After a period of time you will have a snap-shot of what your call volume really consists of.  I know this sounds simple, but you would be surprised at how many grand plans skip this step and fall flat.

Are you taking the time to gather the information you need to identify your real challenge when you are dealing with high volume calls or are you making dangerous assumptions?

This blog was written by Laurie Leonard, the President of SUITE 1000, a U.S. based national telephone answering service, inbound call center and outsourced call center service. Her company has specialized in handling legal intake, sales leads, email lead response, appointment scheduling, customer service and help desk calls for over 20 years.

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