What is Call Volume? (How to Deal with the High Call Volume)

What is call volume?   

Call volume is a call center metric used to measure the number of inbound calls in a given period. Call center volume is usually measured in different time intervals – hourly, daily, or weekly. Many contact centers categorize call volume into the total number of telephone calls handled by an agent and the total number of calls handled by an automated system (e.g., IVR).

Call center managers put a lot of focus on call volume for several reasons:

  • Call volume impacts the agents’ workload, drives call center staffing requirements, and dictates call center expenses.
  • This metric helps determine how effective your agents are at working with callers.
  • The increase in the current level of your call volume leads to missed calls and a higher call abandonment rate. It has been estimated that call abandonment can cost as much as 40% of lost potential revenues annually.
  • Mishandling high call volume results in longer call queues, increased hold times, and your call center’s inability to provide adequate service levels.

What is a high call volume and how to identify it?

Your call center is experiencing high call volume (also called a call volume spike) when the number of your inbound calls is significantly higher than the predicted volume. That basically means the number of incoming calls is more than the actual volume your call center representatives can efficiently handle without compromising your customer satisfaction levels.

Research indicates that the industry standard for high call volume is 10% above the normal level. Yet, that figure can be remarkably higher for smaller or medium-sized businesses due to a lack of available staff.

This dramatic increase in the number of incoming customer calls can be short-term or can last for several hours, days, or even weeks. In addition, call volume usually varies by time of day – e.g., a call center could experience heavy call volume during business hours and light call traffic in the evenings. Other than that, a call center can typically be faced with an increased number of call center inquiries due to one or more of these factors:

  • Seasonal spikes: Many businesses experience these spikes annually during holidays or busy periods specific to their industry (such as the Christmas shopping season for retailers).
  • Internal issues: Unexpected service outages, website malfunctions, insufficient staff, poorly trained call center operators – that can all lead to increased call volumes.
  • Marketing initiatives: Massive promo campaigns or new product launches can also cause high call volume spikes.

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How to deal with the high call volume

When call volumes are high, wait times increase, and customer satisfaction drops. Not to mention agents become overwhelmed by a large number of incoming calls and have to work in a stressful environment. This is why high call volume means challenging times for call centers. Here is how businesses can efficiently tackle a high volume of inbound calls utilizing help desk software with a built-in call center such as LiveAgent:

Provide additional service channels

By integrating more channels into your call center software, you can ensure customers interact with your business on their channel of choice while also preventing high call volume. Consider adding a real-time live chat that can also help you adopt a more proactive communication strategy and reduce the number of incoming inquiries altogether.

Develop self-service resources

Creating accurate and comprehensive self-service resources (like a knowledge base and FAQs) can reduce the need for customers to get on the phone in the first place. This is particularly helpful when agents typically receive repetitive questions over and over again. These questions can be answered in your FAQ section, especially if it’s visible and easily accessible on your website.

Optimize your IVR

Along with automatic call distributor (ACD), Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems can help businesses gain complete control over the flow of inbound calls by efficiently routing them to the most appropriate agents. In times of high call volumes, you can additionally optimize your IVR by directing callers to your self-help resources and allowing them to leave a voicemail. Doing so can reduce the number of calls agents have to answer.

Offer a call-back option

Call volume spikes can also be eliminated by enabling a callback option that is available with most call center solutions. In LiveAgent, for instance, when a caller requests a call back, their phone number is kept in a call queue and automatically dialed once the agent can handle their call.

Analyze your call center data

By keeping close tabs on your call center analytics, you can get a better sense of when call volume spikes occur and how each call center agent performs during busy times. Track key call center metrics and KPIs (such as average handle time, average speed of answer, missed calls) and use this historical data to look for any patterns and trends of spikes in call volume. This will help you plan agent scheduling more efficiently and ensure you have enough staff to meet all your call center service needs.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the call volume?

Call volume is an important call center metric that is defined as the total number of incoming calls a call center or a contact center receives in a given period. Call center managers pay attention to this metric since it dictates scheduling and staffing needs, while mismanaging high call volumes can result in longer call queues, longer hold times, missed or abandoned calls, and ultimately decreased customer satisfaction.

What is a high call volume and how to identify it?

High call volume means that the call center is experiencing more calls than it’s typically equipped to handle. In general, the call center industry standard for high call volume is a 10% increase from the average volume. However, for small and mid-sized businesses, that figure can be higher. In addition, call volumes may significantly vary during the day. Call centers can also experience call volume increase due to seasonal spikes (during the holiday season), due to internal issues (e.g., insufficient staff), or marketing initiatives (launching a promo).

How to deal with the high call volume?

Call volume spikes, both unexpected and anticipated, may throw the call center off balance. However, you can reduce and efficiently manage high incoming call volume with certain tactics and strategies: adding more support channels to your contact center, developing extensive self-help resources, optimizing your IVR menus, offering callback, making use of available call center data to make more informed staffing and scheduling decisions.

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