58 Customer Service Experts and Call Center Managers Reveal their Most Important Tips for Reducing Call Center Volume
Call centers are often one of the most bustling hubs of a business, serving as the central point of contact between customers and the company. Call center agents handle myriad tasks from helping customers navigate the purchase process to technical product troubleshooting.
Many companies staff call centers with hundreds (even thousands for large enterprises) of customer support and technical support agents, often 24/7, who are available on a moment’s notice to help customers solve challenges with your company, products, or services. Even the most well-staffed call centers at times leave customers lingering on hold – listening to a friendly message about how important their call is to your company, which just happens to repeat every few seconds. By the time their call gets to the top of the queue, they’ve been driven to the edge of madness.
This isn’t ideal for customers or for your company, because let’s face it: Staffing call centers is a huge overhead cost. Reducing call center volume (and therefore being able to cut down on the expenses associated with staffing and running it) is the ideal, but how can you make that happen?
To gain some valuable insights into the most effective ways companies can reduce call center volume, we asked a panel of customer service experts and call center managers to answer this question:
“What’s the most important tip for companies looking to reduce call center volume?”
Find out what our experts had to say below.
Meet Our Panel of Customer Service Experts and Call Center Managers:
Tom Smith is a Marketing Strategist and Research Analyst for DZone. You can also find Tom at Insights from Analytics.
“The most important tip for companies looking to reduce call center volume is…”
A prepopulated Q&A community with the top 100 most frequently asked questions is a great place to start. Over time the community becomes an encyclopedia of questions and answers whereby virtually every customer question is answered, reducing call center call volume by 40 to 80%.
John Paul Engel is the Founder and Global Executive Director of Project Be The Change. An internationally known consultant, speaker, and author, John has worked in 12 countries for some of the most successful organizations in the world. A portion of the profit he earns from Knowledge Capital Consulting underwrites most of the operating costs of Project Be The Change. John has been invited to speak to students at numerous schools including University of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon, and Oxford University (UK).
“The best way to reduce call center volume is…”
Through digital customer care. A chat session takes 1/2 the time of a call and can be done from anywhere.
Proactively posting on social media when you anticipate call center volume can reduce calls during a spike, like an outage for a utility.
Finally, video links that answer common help desk questions posted on Twitter can be effective for reducing call center volume.
Jessica Ordonez is President of Apicality Communication LLC. Apicality offers workshops, coaching, and editing services to help business professionals transform their business writing, making it concise, direct, and specific. Our clients include the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, Scotiabank, The Wharton School, and others.
“One of the best ways to reduce call center volume is to…”
Write clear, concise FAQs that make it easy for customers to find the answers to their questions. Customers quickly lose patience with rambling, vague, and ambiguous FAQs, preferring to pick up the phone to speak with a customer service representative rather than scrolling through pages of text that are convoluted at best and irrelevant at worst.
Fortunately, revising your FAQs to anticipate and address customers’ questions and concerns is simple. The key is to (1) understand your audience and (2) write in plain English.
Understand Your Audience
You need to place yourself in the mind of your customers who are calling in with questions and concerns. What is their frame of mind? How do they view the problem and your solutions? If you are already providing extensive call center services, ask the representatives to record the nature of the
customers’ inquiries. Identify recurring themes and identify the best responses.
Write in Plain English
Once you have a clear understanding of your customers, you can write clear responses that fully address their concerns. Use plain English, which means writing in simple sentences that quickly present the main idea without superfluous details. Place these clearly written questions and answers at the top of your FAQs where customers are sure to spot them, and you should see an almost immediate decrease in the number of calls related to those particular questions.
Does this work in real life? Certainly! In his book, Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government, and Law, law professor Joe Kimble cites numerous studies in which companies have reduced their reliance on call centers—and their expenses—by using clear, concise writing to anticipate and address customers’ questions. For example, he cites a 1991 initiative of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in which the simplification of form letters reduced support calls
from 1.5 per letter to 0.27 per letter and resulted in annual savings of $40,000. He also notes that when General Electric adopted plain English for its software manual, the company saw the number of support calls for each customer decrease by 125 and savings ranged between $22,000 and $375,000 per customer.
Are you ready for the next step? Start revising your FAQs today, or work with a professional copywriter or editor who is well versed in the principles of plain English. You will reap the benefits in terms of reduced call center volume and cost savings almost immediately.
Arsineh Ghazarian is the Co-founder and CEO of Zveil, an online bridal veil design and retail business. Prior to taking on this role she worked with a variety of non-profits and technology companies to help them manage their social media presence and online communities, most notably Experience Project (an online community with over 35 million monthly visitors).
“To reduce call center volume, companies should…”
Generate a FAQ section where customers can find the answers to popular questions. Companies could also go one step further and implement a peer support system, in which customers can help answer common questions asked by their peers. This is ideal for general questions, while questions pertaining to account information would continue to be handled by staff.
Angie Stocklin, COO and Co-Founder, along with her husband Randy, of One Click, oversees business operations including customer service, order fulfillment, merchandising, and vendor account management for felix + iris, Readers.com and Sunglass Warehouse.
“The best way to reduce call center volume is to…”
Make your website as self-service friendly as possible. Robust online accounts allow your customers to process returns and track delivery estimates, while an interactive knowledge base or FAQ section allows them to get their easy questions answered quickly – without a call or email to your service team.
AJ Saleem is the Director of Suprex Learning, a leading private tutoring and test prep company based in Houston. AJ has created a big dent in the private tutoring market by offering well-trained, highly qualified teachers who are also dynamic instructors. The company also operates in New York and Chicago.
“The best way for companies to reduce call center volume is…”
I run a tutoring company, and we’re always receiving inquisitive calls about our staff, how much we charge, and our hours of operation when all of this information has already been listed on our website. We’ve struggled with the long battle of reducing call volume and made a couple changes to our business that have helped us clear our phone lines for warm leads.
1.) Don’t put your company phone number on the top of your website.
Place your company phone number at the bottom of the page or Contact Us page so the customer actually has to take the time to go through your website before calling you. Customers are more likely to call you if they see a phone number at the top of the website or the center of the home page; many customers will ask general questions which they could have explored on the website, such as pricing.
You can create a contact button which will link the customer to a contact form, so you as the business owner can now determine if it will be worth the time and effort to follow up with the lead.
2.) You want to have your lines clear for sales calls only, so enroll for a VoIP phone service such as RingCentral or Grasshopper, both of which have excellent small business plans for those on a budget.
If your customers do find your number and call, route them through an automated message system that includes general information about your company including address and hours of business to reduce the amount of people trying to talk to a live person to get this kind of info.
Robert Ellis Smith, who is recognized as the leading expert on the right to privacy in the U.S., is the publisher of Privacy Journal. He is an experienced journalist, a lawyer, and an author of several essential books on privacy. Twice he has been asked to write the definition of privacy for the World Book Encyclopedia.
Smith digs through reams of government documents and interviews all the important people who affect privacy policies; he’s an enterprising journalist who insists on originality and accuracy in his stories.
“The most effective way for companies to reduce call center volume is to…”
Have a language expert review all of your organization’s written and digital materials to make sure that they communicate clearly and answer the most likely questions. Have call center personnel report regularly on the most time-consuming inquiries. Make sure that these subjects are addressed when your written materials are re-issued. Tell customers and potential customers when your off-peak hours are for getting the most prompt replies. Perhaps provide an incentive for them to call then instead of during typically high-volume time periods.
Caitlin Zucal is an Associate Product Marketing Manager at DZoneSoftware, a global community of technology experts and professionals.
“One of the most effective ways to reduce call center volume is through…”
Consumers have become increasingly tech savvy and expect the companies they do business with to follow suit. This has resulted in an interest in self-service support:
- 51% of customers prefer support through an online knowledge base [Econsultancy]. 45% of organizations that offer web or mobile self-service options noticed an increase in website traffic and a reduction in phone inquiries [CRM Magazine]. 55% say easy access to information and support can make them fall in love with a brand [RightNow].
Not only is self-service support beneficial to customers, it also enables companies to reduce support costs, increase customer satisfaction, and build brand loyalty.
Derrick Lawless is the Marketing Director at D. Lawless Hardware, which carries a unique line of high quality cabinet hardware and has been selling online since 1999.
“For companies in the retail space the number one thing that needs to be focused on is…”
Product pages. Your company’s product pages should be as detailed as possible with as many of the following as you can muster: pictures of the product from different angles, pictures of the product in use, reviews of the product, clearly available sizing information and installation instructions, and shipping rates and information. These and anything else your specific customers might need to know MUST be on the product pages. If customers don’t immediately see what information they need, they are very likely to pick up the phone and call.
Other very effective methods are maintaining and tracking the usage of your FAQ page. Customers will use the FAQ page if it’s arranged so that they can see their question has been addressed. Basically you’ve got to out of your way to answer every question they could ask before they ask it. This is a lot of work. But so is dealing with calls.
Garry Harrison is the Founder and CEO of Zeus Legal Funding.
“There are several important tips I’d recommend to companies seeking to reduce call center volume…”
1) Keep up with current issues. If two or three customers have called today about an issue, announce to users we are aware of this issue on your IVR and your website. There are speech analysis tools that will help identify what most people are calling about today.
2) Have a self-help or frequently asked questions section on your website.
3) Have live chat on your website.
4) Have intelligent live chat. Initially, have the system ask the client what they need; then, have the system scan their question and show them likely answers to their questions. Transfer them to chat only if the user selects that none of the answers helped them.
5) Everything that was done to a customer’s account should be noted in their account.
6) IVR, IVR, IVR. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of your IVR.
Olga Mack is a startup lawyer who enjoys advising her clients to success and growth. Currently head of legal at ClearSlide, she previously worked at Zoosk, Visa Inc., Pacific Art League of Palo Alto, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
“The most important tip for companies looking to reduce call center volume is…”
Consider posting useful, accessible, and intuitively-organized resources that address most common customer concerns on your website. For example, clear and concise FAQs that users can navigate and search easily often reduce call center volume and related costs. Other more in-depth media-rich information and online video tutorials may be helpful so long as they do not clutter the users’ FAQs experience. To be useful, the best way to organize the FAQs and any other online resources is to address 70-90% of the concerns, not being exhaustive, because there is an inherent tradeoff between the conciseness and clarity. The call agents who interact with the customers on the daily basis may be helpful in identifying the most common questions and concerns that the FAQs should address.
Sonia is the marketing manager at Magnetic North, a leading provider of cloud telephony, cloud contact center and cloud call recording technology. Find out more about Magnetic North here.
“Companies can reduce call center volume by…”
Encouraging self-service for simpler inquiries and making it as easy as possible for customers to access the information they’re after. Reduce call volume by pushing customers to use alternative channels such as web chat and social media, or for enquiries that don’t necessitate a speedy response, email. Reduce wait times during peak hours by offering a ‘virtual placeholder’ and a call-back facility so the customer can be contacted by the next available agent or at a time to suit them later in the day.
Baruch Kogan is the marketing director at Bontact, a company making multichannel ecommerce communications widgets. Bontact focuses on giving ecommerce business owners the tools they need to turn visitors into buyers.
“If you want to reduce call center volume, give your visitors and customers…”
Other options. Let them talk to you easily via SMS, chat, and email (which is what our app does). Let them be the ones to decide if their question requires a phone call. We’ve found that given the choice, only 14% of visitors prefer a phone call. And it’s a lot easier for reps to have multiple conversations via the other contact options than by phone.
Michelle Zakarin owns Regents Review, LLC, a small business offering standardized test preparation services for high school students.
“The best way for companies to reduce call center volume is…”
As a service business (preparing high school students for standardized test like regents, AP and SAT subject tests), we receive tons of calls every year from parents. We found that our volume of calls decreased when we placed all of our important information on our website. We also included a FAQ page with the most common questions. We update this list as needed. We have found that most customers actually prefer to register online rather than call. The bottom line is, an organized, user-friendly website will reduce calls.
Christiano Ferraro is a management consultant dedicated to perpetuating the passion of fellow entrepreneurs as the founder of Christiano Ferraro Consultancy, LLC. He leverages his wisdom and experience across sales, marketing, and operations to facilitate manifested vision for those with the work ethic to fuel it.
“The number one tip for companies looking to reduce call center volume is to…”
Leverage customer intelligence delivered to you.
We often interpret call volume as an inevitable expense associated with business. Herein lies the profound mistake companies make. Every time someone calls, this offers an opportunity for a company to learn about real time insight on improving their operations. Rather than trying to get people off the phone, why not learn from those conversations to drive action with the intent to prevent their need to call? Calls (which represent customer needs) go down as needs are preemptively fulfilled.
Dani holds a BSc in Business Management and an MSc in Project Management from UCL. She has started her career as a call center sales manager before moving to project management in the digital marketing sector. Ever since, she has worked in branding and digital marketing in various marketing verticals. She has been running Local Fame for more than a year and has a small call center team consisting of sales and account managers.
“Companies seeking to reduce call center volume should…”
Regardless of what the primary purpose of the call center is – customer service, operations, or sales, a company that is looking to reduce their call center volume without the latter affecting their revenue, customer service score, etc. would need to focus on automation.
Many companies that previously used outsourced or in-house call centers have shifted their operations towards using automation tools that exclude the need for a person managing a process. The above is usually done through the use of technology, or more specifically, contact or booking forms and mobile apps that feed information directly to the CRM systems of the company and communicate with the client through sending automatically generated emails.
As an example, Fantastic Services, who have been our client for years, approached us with that very same requirement – automate their process and reduce their call center staff with at least 20% (at that time their call center staff numbered a couple of hundred phone operators). What we did is to create a booking form on their website that was asking exactly the same questions that an operator was during a phone call when booking their services, but in a more simplified and user-friendly way. In this way their clients could avoid a call that usually took between 15-30 minutes to book a service and could do that in a few easy clicks on their website. Later, their mobile app was created for the same purpose. The study they did internally showed that the automation of their sales process not only led to reducing the call center volume by more than 30%, but also improved their operations process, and clients were a lot happier to spend up to five times less time booking a service online rather than speaking to someone over the phone.
Qian Li Loke is a Director at SMS24/7 Pte Ltd, a company based in Singapore that has been providing a SMS-based Auto Response System to help companies hire blue collar workers more efficiently since 2011. He graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelors with Honors in Industrial and Systems Engineering.
“Companies looking to reduce call center volume should consider…”
My FMCAR Approach.
1. Find the purpose behind calling out from the call center.
2. Map the process flow for all relevant processes.
3. Classify the events in each process into ‘Requires Human Intervention’ or ‘Standard Reply.’
4. Automate all Standard Replies.
5. Redirect every task that Requires Human Intervention to an operator.
For example, with a combination of advertisements and posters, companies could attract customers to call in instead of calling out from a call center. From there, implement an auto-response system (SMS or live chat-based) to allow customers to access the basic FAQ menu. In the case that the questions are beyond the FAQ scope, allow an option to notify the call center operator to call back.
This way, a good ecosystem will be created whereby call center operators are motivated to understand the company’s products/services and will enter a loop of self-improvement to remain relevant and hence stay in a job, while reducing call center volume for the company.
We have supported customers with this concept to free up their time to focus on operations and conducting interviews, while hiring up to 14 times more than before.
Billy Bauer is the Managing Director of Royce Leather, a leading retail manufacturer of fine leather products including wallets, passport cases, briefcases, padholders, and other leather accessories.
“We mitigated call center volume via…”
Recognizing predictable calls. For example, your stats may show that a high percentage of customers purchasing your product consistently call the center within a few hours of purchase with a basic technical question or request. These calls can be successfully eliminated with a program for proactively guiding customers while they are still at the POS or on the web site. This improves the customer experience and increases customer satisfaction while achieving the goal of reducing avoidable calls.
Yuval Aharon is the owner of Rated Radar Detector and many other websites which sell technology products. He runs various offline and online businesses and has some experience being his own boss.
“The best tip I suggest for companies looking to reduce call center volume is to…”
Offer Self-Service Tools. Most questions have already been asked before. That means that most of your customers have the same questions. That’s why you should create a provider portal on your website or in your notebook with these frequently asked questions and their answers. Place them in a convenient location for customers and provide access to any possible query they might have. You should track what people are usually calling for and put the answers to those questions in the help portal.
In my opinion, calling the call center should be the last option for the customers. They have to try everything before calling to a live help center.
With more than 30 years of client satisfaction experience, Elizabeth McCollough has a passion for being the very best at what she does. Partnering with Keller Williams, Ellis County allowed Elizabeth to fully implement her team approach to the real estate business and its benefits for the client.
“I’ve worked my way up from a front line CSR to building call centers and it all comes down to…”
Training. Equip your employees to provide a one call resolution.
Mark Reuter is a Senior Manager with Deloitte Digital and focuses on helping technology companies transform their digital landscape across sales, service, and marketing functions in order to build strong
relationships with customers and partners.
“There are two main ways companies can reduce call center volume…”
Avoidance and deflection.
With avoidance, a company would seek to find those issues that drive a high percentage of calls into the contact center and mitigate them before they become issues. For example, if you get a lot of calls about setting up a product or using a specific feature a company could update the installation manuals or quick start guides to provide pre-emptive answers. A company could also provide links to online help articles or YouTube video to help with common questions/issues.
For call deflection, you try to get the customers to use an alternative (and often more efficient) channel for getting help – promoting online chat and email help is a great way to get a single service/support rep to respond to multiple inquiries at once, and often they can work more than one issue at a time.
Both of these approaches requires companies to mine their data to derive insights into what is driving volume into the call center and then look for opportunities to avoid those calls, or deflect them to more efficient channels.
Santiago Tobon is a Marketing Project Manager with SMDigital Education, a Business Unit of SMDigital Partners.
“One effective way for companies to reduce call center volume is…”
We encountered a significant challenge when we took the Le Cordon Bleu account to enroll Latin American students in cities like Paris, Ottawa, Melbourne, or London.
We knew we had call center limitations, and we predicted to have a volume of leads and prospects way over our call center’s capacity. So, how did we tackle this issue? APIs (we automated). We used drip campaigns, CRM platforms, and evergreen webinars (we love webinars), and we made the prospects database go through a rigorous filter enabling us to really focus on only those individuals who were highly qualified and showed the greatest level of readiness. The real secret was to have the different platforms work for us through a complex integration. Think of it as peeling the layers of an onion.
- Is this a NEW prospect? If yes, send this to the drip campaign. Did the prospect sign up for the upcoming webinar? Send a reminder 24 hours prior to the event and 15 minutes before. Did the prospect receive the basic information? Open the channels for them to schedule a one-on-one chat with an academic advisor.
All these rules of integration between platforms helped us to filter leads and boosted our conversion rates. So always choose tools with integration capabilities. Would you prefer to have an army of reps blowing your monthly phone bill? Or do you prefer having the really interested leads raise their hands as a sign of interest? This is what we call selective engagement.
Joseph Braithwaite is a business advisor and transformational champion, focused on helping organizations become more competitive by challenging the status quo of their industry.
“Companies desiring to reduce call center volume should…”
Today’s call centers provide tactical support for many organizations with a great call closure rate and satisfied customers. What else could a company want? When call volume goes up, hire more people to respond, resulting in happy customers and fast responses to questions. If we focus on what these call centers don’t currently provide, we can see an opportunity to stop this cycle of perpetual growth of call center representatives and create a flow of information that can stop the need to call into these centers in the first place.
Data management is missing from most call centers and the collection, analysis, and auctioning of these details is essential to the reduction of call volume. These call center reps are the front-line of most businesses and the information they gather can tell how satisfied customers are with the products, business, processes, pricing, etc., and when this information is gathered, quantified and qualified, an organization can take corrective actions to become more proactive in dealing with customer concerns, thus addressing the issue before the call needs to be made. Thus, a continuous review of the data gathered and implementing change based on this data will both increase the overall quality of the company and its products, but reduce the call volume within the call centers.
Marvin Russell is at Product Developer and Support Specialist at MySiteAuditor, and a 10+ year software service provider.
“I founded MySiteAuditor in 2013. Since then we’ve been obsessed with reducing support tickets and call volume. The best way we accomplished this was by…”
Reducing features in our dashboard.
So, the absolute best tip to reduce call center volume is to reduce features. Most software companies make the huge mistake of adding more features when trying to reduce call center volume. Too many features in their software is very bad for usability. According to Hick’s Law, reducing choices dramatically improves the decision making process for the user. In addition, 80% of users only end up using 20% of the features.
Doug Devitre is the founder of Doug Devitre International, Inc., a private consulting practice specializing in marketing, sales, and its application with the latest technology, and the author of Screen to Screen Selling.
“The ONE thing for any company to do to reduce call center volume is…”
Either have their products/services more user-friendly or their communications more user-friendly across multiple channels. Customers call in because they get overwhelmed with too many features that could have been prevented from simpler product design.
Similarly, if they can’t find out their answer on a FAQs, YouTube video, or a Google search, they will most likely scan the website for the phone number to call in. Productive call centers teach customers how to find the answer themselves by walking them through a series of steps rather than fixing the issue to only wait to troubleshoot it again later.
Alan Jurysta is the founder of numerous startups and is experienced in the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. Currently he is the CEO of Firefly Telecom, a business VoIP services provider for businesses of any size.
“The best thing for any company to do to reduce call center volume is…”
Take advantage of the technology and features available in today’s call center software. A well thought-out call center should be designed to move callers as quickly as possible through the auto attendant while taking care to route the right types of calls to the agents best-equipped to handle the calls using skills-based routing. Use on-hold announcements to answer frequently asked questions. Make the caller aware of their estimated hold time regularly. Give the caller an option to receive a call back when an
agent becomes available. These features and more are available in a robust call center solution.
Stephanie Heacox was a usability specialist for many years in financial services and ecommerce. She recently left the industry to launch Senior Homeshares, which is a national online service that matches elders who have more home than they need (empty-nesters, widows/widowers) with elders who need safe, affordable housing.
“The most important tip for companies seeking to reduce call center volume is…”
- Do a thorough review of your call center tickets to determine where your users/customers are having problems. This is where you learn how good your ticketing and CSR processes are. On a spreadsheet, aggregate and prioritize issues by assigning a value (1 – 5) to each issue, for three categories: Importance to user, time to fix, cost. Average values for each issue and sort highest to lowest. Brainstorm with business stakeholder, a few CSRs, and a usability specialist about possible solutions. If a problem is unclear, contact the users who reported it. TEST those solutions against actual users. Again, hire a usability specialist if you can, because user testing is an art. Do not let sales or marketing people do it, as they inevitably telegraph the answers they want.
Nenad Cuk works as an Internet Marketing Specialist at Davinci Virtual Office Solutions. He assists and takes care of optimizing the website for user experience, online ads, outreach, and future buildouts with directional insight. Originally from Croatia, he now lives in Utah, where he has called home for 18 years.
“Here are some tips we have offered clients and strategies we’ve used on our end to reduce call center volume…”
Set up a FAQ section on their site. Most people will poke around to find information for what they are looking for, but they shouldn’t have to look too far, as the attention span doesn’t allow for that in today’s busy world. Setting up a FAQ section on a site will help those inquisitive visitors find what they are looking for, and the easier the frequently asked questions page is to navigate, the faster they find what they need. This is a where nanorep can help, as users don’t have to look as hard to find information.
Set up information in answering prompts. If your company has one or two, or even three reoccurring questions that get asked a few times a day, and you already have it on your site, then try to set up information in the call prompt to answer this query. It also benefits the user as they don’t have to wait or speak to someone and can drop out of the queue right after getting the answer. Make sure that they can replay the information before making a selection, and make sure that the question is occurring often enough that it justifies every having to hear it.
Ian Aronovich is the CEO of GovernmentAuctions.org, a site that compiles and provides information about government auctions of seized and surplus merchandise from all over the country.
“One thing that helped us reduce call center volume is…”
We realized that a majority of the calls we received were about cancelling accounts. What we did is make it a lot simpler to cancel from the account and we saw a drastic decrease of calls, allowing our employees to focus on more profitable ventures. Additionally, we use Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch with our clients. That way we are able to deal with a lot of their issues through casual conversation and they don’t need to call us.
Fergal McGovern is the CEO for VisibleThread.
“To reduce call center volume, focus on…”
Improving your use of plain and readable language in your online copy, marketing content, and correspondence. When people know what is expected of them, there’s a better chance they’ll comply. Improved compliance reduces the need for costly extra mailings, litigation and – you guessed it – call center calls. For example, The Veterans Administration revised a letter asking beneficiaries to update contact information. The effort saved the VA $8 million in follow-up costs. Most word processing software has basic analysis tools already built in that you can use to improve materials or web copy. And for larger companies, software exists that can crawl hundreds of documents at a time and tell you which ones are problematic.
Jeff Tchadjeu is an entrepreneur and the founder of many cool and interesting companies (and projects), including Aircare.io and TextSolutions.co. He went to school for political science and economics and loves sports.
“The best way to reduce call center volume might be to…”
Completely change the call center model altogether. When I say change the call center model, what I mean is rather then engaging with customers through a phone, engaging them through SMS may be far more beneficial.
A call center agent for example may spend on average 15 mins per call, which means they can only handle 4 customers an hour. So a team of 5 agents could handle 20 customers every hour. But with SMS, one agent can manage multiple customers simultaneously – so in those same 15 minutes the same
agent could be handling 3-5 customers rather than one. So a team of 5 who could only manage 20 customers per hour are now able to 60-100 customers in the same time span.
I think you see where I’m going with it, but this is how I think call centers could not only reduce call volume and also cut costs (less agents can do more work).
John Turner is CEO/Founder of UsersThink, a tool that delivers user feedback on demand for website landing pages, helping to increase conversions and improve usability and UX.
“The best way to reduce call center volume is to…”
Provide help on the most common concerns in a clear, easy to understand, easy to use way online.
If you’re not sure how to get started on this, start by going thru logs of call center calls, and find out the most common issues. Even a short list of the top 10 concerns or questions is handy to get started.
Use the real language that customers use in asking the question, and set up individual pages in the help/customer service section of your website for each question. Make sure to avoid all corporate speak (such as claiming how great you are) and get to the core of the question.
Answer the question as directly and as helpfully as you can, making sure language is easy to understand, the page is easy to read, and that the page can be easily read on any type of device.
Make sure your internal help section has an effective search option, and allow search engines to crawl these new pages so they’re easy to find via search.
As more and more people turn to the web before calling support, you’ll see call volume decrease the more you repeat this process and as you build out your help library more extensively.
Zach Heller is a marketing professional with years of experience in branding, digital marketing, direct response, and marketing communications. He has entrepreneurial and consulting experience and loves working with small and medium-sized companies to help direct marketing efforts toward growth.
Zach graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.A. in Marketing and Economics. During and since college he has worked on a variety of different marketing projects in numerous industries including, publishing, education, travel, social networking, and legal.
Currently, he is the Director of Marketing for Distance Education Co. in New York City.
“The best thing for companies looking to reduce call volume is to…”
Make it easy for customers to get what they need online. Intuitive, interactive customer portals that are transparent and allow customers to help themselves will eliminate the need for most calls. As we train customers to seek out answers for themselves, and make it easy for them to find answers when they do, we can successfully reduce call volume and call center overhead.
Praveen Puri is a management consultant who drives rapid change and innovation, so fast-moving businesses stay ahead of the competition.
“The best way for companies to reduce call center volume is to…”
Ask call center reps (and/or review call recordings) to identify the most common issues that customers call about. Create a troubleshooting or FAQ document that describes the solutions. Post them on your website and send them to your customers.
Phrase it so that it is in the customer’s best interest, such as, “To help save your valuable time, here is a list of the most common issues our call center receives, along with simple steps you can try before calling us.”
Ron Sinai is the founder and CEO of Pre-Settlement Funding, Inc. (DBA Nova Legal Funding), a pre-settlement litigation finance company based out of Los Angeles, California. We provide financing to injured victims with pending personal injury lawsuits. He started Nova Legal Funding after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in 2014.
“There’s an easy formula for reducing call center volume…”
Automated Emails, Texts & Live Chat = Less Call Volume
How we fixed call volume:
We had a serious call volume problem, in that many of the calls were for trivial concerns that could have been addressed via a simple email or text update to the client. To fix the issue, we implemented an automated text and email system. Instead of clients calling us, we were able to respond to their questions with quick and efficient email and text responses, instead of a 5-10 minute phone call.
Nick Brennan is the Founder & CEO of Watch Social Media, a Chicago-based Social Media Marketing & Management firm.
“The most important thing companies can do to reduce call center volume is…”
To provide alternative methods for customers to interact with their service department. Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide opportunities for real-time engagement and come across as more authentic. In fact, many times, social media service interactions result in quicker service experiences as they can easily transition into email interactions to resolve issues. This provides the service team an opportunity to multi-task if needed and enhance the interaction by providing necessary content via email to resolve the issue at hand.
Die-hard entrepreneur + psychology/sociology/marketing = Lou Altman, always asking customer-centric questions, always asking ‘Why’ and turning simple questions into profoundly complex action.
Lou has lived at the various levels of the customer service world:
- As a front line Service Representative As CSR Manager his team broke sales records He has created/trained/implemented asset retention programs at two firms and he’s run sales campaigns topping $300 million His current company boasts a 90% retention rate and a client life cycle 3X the industry average
His depth and knowledge are the result of real world experience, a deep tacit understanding of the psychology of customer service, and the unabashed creativity to solve complex problems.
A dynamic presenter, Lou takes the stage at numerous events, ranging from local meetups to the global Satellite Conference in Washington, DC. Find Lou at GlobaFone or at Next Level Consulting.
“As one who has built client retention programs and whose company has a 90% retention rate, I can offer two advice points for call centers to reduce call volume…”
1) Provide outstanding training to your CSRs so they can properly educate the client base. If the client base really understands the product or service, the need for support calls drops. And in the instances where calls do occur, CSRs can professionally and competently handle the caller’s concerns, problems, whatever.
2) Stop measuring ‘success’ by average talk time. Managing to a metric that is quantitative, absent a measure of qualitative work, means the CSR is subconsciously always in a rush to get someone off the phone. And that means they will be willing to cut corners in the discussion which has a detrimental impact overall, but specifically allows for a reduction in the knowledge transfer needed to reduce future calls.
These are two methodologies that companies can use to reduce the number of calls. Of course one might want to encourage more calls that are of deeper substance as those calls give the CSR the opportunity to build customer retention.
David Mercer works at SME Pals helping entrepreneurs and startups become established online.
“Reducing call center volumes can be done using…”
An iterative process. First, identify the most common problems being put to agents. Second, find out where those breakdowns are occurring, and either improve the process or make the relevant support information available there. That should either remove the necessity for customers to call, or give them the answer they need before they do.
This works particularly well with online businesses that can quantitatively measure the flow of their traffic to isolate problem areas and then either redesign so that the problem disappears or put support links to FAQ and other helpful content.
Gary A. Pudles is President, CEO and founder of AnswerNet, and also the co-founder of TextGen and SA Billing. The serial entrepreneur is actively realizing his goal of helping businesses to execute better and become more profitable by teaching and supporting entrepreneurship through his multiple technology and service businesses.
“The most effective way to reduce call center volumes is to…”
Make it easy to do business with your company. Whether that means having a product or service that is easy to understand or having an intuitive buying process, call volumes rise when people have questions about your offering or how to use it.
The other key to reducing call center volume is to introduce technologies to your phone lines, such as web videos, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, and Interactive Text Response (ITR) systems, so that people will have additional ways to get help without having to rely on human-to-human contact.
Jennifer Martin is a Business Coach, and the Founder of Zest Business Consulting and the Loving Your Business to Wealth programs. She helps Small Business Owners, Leaders, and Managers understand how to build a thriving profitable businesses and meaningful lives.
“If you want to reduce call center volume you’ve got to…”
Make it as easy as possible for your customers and perspective customers to find the answers and solutions they need without having to contact you.
Here are a few tips that can help you create a deeper more engaged relationships with your customers while reducing your call volume AND your overhead.
1. Make sure that your customer service e-mail (instead of your phone number) is at the bottom of each page of your website and on all your customer correspondence. People are less likely to e-mail than call and an e-mail can be answered on your schedule.
2. Make frequently asked questions and answers easy to find (online and off). In the shopping cart experience, encourage people to review the FAQs before purchasing and send or provide FAQs to the buyer after a sale. The more you can do to educate your clients, the less likely it will be for them
to need to connect with you.
3. If you have a product, service, warranty, or return policy that is difficult to understand, make a video tutorial or offer monthly webinars to explain the most common questions or concerns your clients might have.
4. Create a peer-to-peer forum so other users (of your products or services) can answer questions for one another.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation, an online document filing company.
“Our best tip for reducing call center volume is to…”
Beat the customer to the punch by providing the information they need via email or web access/login so that they do not even need to call in. If we anticipate the needs of our customers and respond to them knowing what they are inclined to call and ask, we can provide that information and reduce our call center volume.
Dimitris Verdelis is Support and Testing Engineer at Megaventory, the leading cloud-based inventory management system.
“The most important tip for companies looking to reduce call center volume is…”
A Solomonic solution: do not offer phone support.
Phone calls require synchronous communication of both parties, which is usually not an effective solution. Besides, most complicated support issues are not resolved during the call requiring further action from either side when the call is over. In the world of mobile and web applications, employing alternative support solutions such as in-app support, live chat, or even interactive issue resolution is the future.
What’s more, you should provide adequate documentation and resources to ensure that your users will not need your support to begin with.
At Megaventory, a B2B inventory management solution that requires rapid issue resolution, the user support expectations of our clients are very high. However, we boast stellar user support by employing a combination of an updated knowledge base, live chat, and email support.
Adam is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for helping businesses grow. He founded 1-888-GO-ANSWER! back in 2012 to provide answering services to small businesses who did not have the budget for large contact center operations. He has over 10 years of hands-on experience in the contact center and customer service space and strives to always keep a smile on the faces of his clients and his team.
“As a contact center that handles calls for thousands of businesses across the US, I can say with certainty that the agents must have…”
The proper tools at their disposal to make sure time spent on a call is as efficient as possible. With that being said, a well-documented, searchable FAQ platform is crucial to save time on the phone. When customer service reps have an easy way to find answers to any of the callers’ questions, the end result is a shorter call. Multiply that time saved across thousands of phone calls, and you can quickly see the value.
Steven Mills is the Digital Strategist at PMC Telecom, a leading provider of Telephony solutions. He frequently writes about telephony solutions best for business, and digital strategy. You will find him writing at PMC Telecom drinking coffee and handing out telecoms advice.
“There are several things to consider for companies seeking to reduce call center volume…”
Recent data from PMC Telecom revealed that 72% of their customers were unsure what phone system was best for them. This surprising data really shows that there are serious savings to be made with time, money, and in general quality of the phone system used for any business, not just call centers.
Reducing call center volume with Hosted VoIP & Intelligent Implementation
Not only is having modern features on your system important, but using them well is something rarely seen. For example, IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and Call Queuing are great features for reducing call volume, but can frustrate he hell out of your customers if done badly. For example, BT has an extremely granulated call management system, which transfers your call to the right department depending on your query, which is exactly what, as consumers, we want. The problem occurs though when this isn’t done well. With BT, if none of the options fit your requirements, you are left pressing random buttons just to try to get to speak to a person, but more often than not you’re stuck in an infinite loop listening to options over and over again.
Have you ever found yourself trying to navigate through options, like a maze, just to speak to a person? Have you ever been through multiple options to learn the office is closed? This is how not to run your call center.
However, do you remember the last auto attendant that actually helped you? No, because we don’t remember those experiences; we are not supposed to. We want to call up, get the person we need, and hang up; we are not here to review their IVRs or get stuck in infinite loops.
In addition to this, a Hosted VoIP system has many features, notably because of the nature of Hosted VoIP being Cloud Based. This means that any call can be answered by any of your staff at any location, so if you have multiple offices you can direct some of the overflow to your other call centers, balancing the load and increasing efficiency.
If done right, a modern phone system, such as a Hosted VoIP system, coupled with a good IVR Auto attendant can lead to greatly reduced number of calls reaching your call center staff.
Conor Keenan is a Digital Marketer at Christine Waller Photography, a dreamer, achiever, dear friend, loving son, and brother. He’s also a lifelong learner, founder, and opportunist.
“One of the fastest ways to reduce call center volume is to…”
Update your FAQ section. I used to work on a medical device account at a previous ad agency. We scrapped call center calls and realized that several customers kept asking a particular question, whether or not the device was covered by Medicare. We took this information and updated the FAQ section to include the answer to this question.
Call center volume decreased almost 10% from a simple website change. This freed up the time of call center agents to close more calls that were not concerned about whether or not the device was covered by Medicare.
Raymond (Ray) McKenzie is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Red Beach Advisors and an Associate with the Predictive Group. With more than 15 years of experience as a senior business executive and consultant leading global organizations ranging from start-ups to large enterprises, Mr.
McKenzie has significant experience with business and departmental strategy, customer success and service, process development, project management, and operational excellence.
“The most important tip for companies looking to reduce call center volume is…”
To evaluate your product and service usability to determine inefficiencies within the product or service. Once you have uncovered the inefficiency, the company should improve those areas to reduce call center volume. By measuring, implementing customer success strategies, and evaluating customer
usage trends, behaviors, lack of product functionality, and unused features, you can identify areas of improvement to increase customer engagement and reduce call center contacts. Through my past engagements with Red Beach Advisors clients, I have helped my clients take a step back from solely
creating a support knowledge base online and ask, “Why are customers having these issues with our product or service?” Understanding the answers to that question will lead organizations to lowering their call center costs and reduce customer support cases.
Carol Wain reinvents businesses and transforms lives by helping leaders to improve the experiences they deliver to employees, customers and supporters – which strengthens relationships, fosters engagement, and delivers higher profits. Carol is an advisor, consultant, educator, speaker, author, and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.
“Whenever business leaders look to improve results – either by increasing or decreasing certain performance measures – the best place to start is by…”
Looking for the gap between the promises they make and the experiences they deliver. The reason is because the disconnect between the two is often the source of frustration, reduced profit, employee and customer churn, and increased cost to service.
In order to reduce call center volume, look for the gaps which are causing the highest number of calls. What are people complaining about most? Is this due to a disconnect between the promises your sales and marketing team are making and the actual experience your customers receive? Is it because the great service you promise isn’t what they receive? Is it because the great product you promise isn’t that great after all? Is it because the great corporate citizen you profess to be isn’t living up to the hype? Is it because you’ve created processes and systems which complicate, rather than simplify, your customers’ lives?
Customer experience is a hot topic these days and it is the difference between competitors selling similar products. Focus on aligning the experience you deliver with the promises you make and the expectations of your customers and you’ll see your call center volume – especially for complaints – decrease.
On a more positive note – if call center volume is high because people are calling in to buy – and leadership wants to reduce those calls, then they need to create systems where people can self-serve. However, I would encourage business leaders to rethink any decisions to reduce those kinds of calls because they are prime opportunities to not only cross-sell and up-sell but to understand the Voice of Customer and to ask for referrals.
Linda Murray Bullard is the owner of and business development coach at LSMB Business Solutions where she assists small business owners in discovering ways to perfect their products/services in order to become and stay sustainable. She has worked almost 30 years in Corporate America and is now using her acquired knowledge and talents to empower small businesses.
“The best way to reduce call center volume is to…”
Look to your customer call data, which contains a gold mine of information for improving your product or service. The best tip for reducing call volume is to first identify the reasons for the calls. Pay close attention to the top 3-5 reasons. Once you learn why they are calling resolve the issue.
This could mean something as simple as placing a downloadable owner’s manual or adding FAQs to your website, automating a process, or performing potentially more extensive changes such as changing your product design. If it is impossible to make the change, develop a workaround that does not disengage your customers.
Keith Casey serves as the Director of Product for Clarify.io working to make APIs easier, more consistent, and solve real world problems. Previously, as a Developer Evangelist at Twilio, he worked to get good technology into the hands of good people to do great things. In his spare time, he works to build and support the Austin technology community, blogs at CaseySoftware.com and is fascinated by monkeys. He is also a co-author of “A Practical Approach to API Design” from Leanpub.
“There are a variety of approaches to reduce call center volume but I’ve found the best is the simplest…”
Know what your customers don’t know.
Call center agents often take terrible notes, so you don’t have insight into each call. By collecting better information including the questions customers ask and language they use, the rest of the company – especially Sales and Marketing – can adjust their own messaging to fill the gaps long before the call even begins.
Kayla Ethan is the co-founder of RebatesZone.
“There is only one golden rule to lowering call center volume…”
Educate your customers. This can be done using various methods. If you are still delivering their reports via regular mail, include an instructional pamphlet about new services.
However, depending on the service that you provide, most people prefer to go to the website to look for solutions to common problems. It would greatly help if you have a detailed FAQs section along with articles about resolving common problems.
In the end, it will only be effective if the customer is able to find the answer easily and understand it. Target the common queries through multiple channels. Make a video, host a special podcast, invite customers to post questions, etc. Taking these steps will lower call volume.
John Vespasian is the author of seven books about rational living, including When everything fails, try this, (2009), Rationality is the way to happiness (2009), The philosophy of builders: How to build a great future with the pieces from your past (2010), The 10 principles of rational living (2012), Rational living, rational working: How to make winning moves when things are falling apart (2013), Consistency: The key to permanent stress relief (2014), and On becoming unbreakable: How normal people become extraordinarily self-confident (2015).
“My top tips for companies looking to reduce call center volume include…”
1. Correct recurrent problems.
Call-centers are typically inundated by calls about recurrent problems. The printer that gives an error signal when you insert a new toner cartridge. The laptop that cannot pick up the Wi-Fi signal properly. The smart phone that cannot run certain android apps. Those are recurrent problems that will continue to generate incoming calls as long as the problems persist. If your company is serious about reducing the volume of incoming calls to your call center, the first step is to identify and correct the incoming problems that are generating most of the calls.
2. Solve the problems in one interaction.
The second strategy for reducing the number of incoming calls to a call center is to make sure that the call-center operators solve the problems completely in one interaction. You don’t want to have the problems half-solved, so that customers have to call again and complain that the solution does not work. You also do not want to tell customers that they have to call again later because the person who can solve their problem has gone for lunch. Or because the call-center operator does not know how to solve the problem, and needs time to check with a supervisor. If you make sure that the call-center operators can solve the problems in one phone conversation, customers will not have to call again.
3. Install poka-yoke features in your products.
The third strategy to reduce the number of incoming calls and complaints is to install poka-yoke features in your products. The Japanese term poka-yoke can be translated as preventive measure. It means, for instance, that a socket is design in a way that prevents the plug from being inserted wrongly. Or that the toner cartridge of a printer is design in a way that prevents it from being inserted upside down. Or that a web-site is designed in a way that makes it impossible for customers to insert wrong data in a query form. The more poka-yoke features you install in your products, the fewer the number of mistakes, and the lower the number of incoming calls to your call-center. Give customers nothing to complain about, and you will get fewer calls to complain.
Jake is the CEO of Contentacle, a content marketing product for teams. Originally from the UK but living in Canada, he’s passionate about coffee, code and content marketing.
“The best way to reduce call center volume is to…”
Improve all your other support options.
First, have great self-service options like a Knowledge Base and FAQ, and keep them up to date. Whenever you see a pattern in support requests, add a public solution. Make sure your self-service options are easy to find and navigate, because they’ll directly reduce call volume.
Finally, have excellent email or live chat support. There’s a lot of startups and small businesses out there that can make your support ticketing easier, and there’s a lot of customers (myself included) that would rather a timely email response than picking up the phone.
Just those two strategies combined can make a dramatic reduction in your call center volume.
Lingke Wang is the CTO/Co-Founder of Ovid Corp, a life settlement exchange where consumers can sell their life insurance policies through an auction to institutional investors.
“The primary way we have worked to reduce call center volume is by…”
Adding an easy to use chat widget on our site. The chat widget allows customers to talk with our agents live. If no agent is available, then there is an option to leave a message which we can respond to via email. Overall, we believe this benefits both the customer and our business. Customers who have a simple question don’t have to call into our call center and can get an answer right away. Similarly, our agents are able to be much more efficient.
Donna Talarico is a writer, marketing consultant, and speaker with experience in ecommerce, publishing and higher education.
“One of the most effective ways to reduce call center volume is to…”
Have a solidly designed and intuitive website which answers consumers’ questions before they realize they have them. The FAQ format is tired and worn out; good web content will answer questions naturally; if you feel you need an FAQ section, it probably means you need content strategy instead. Don’t make users dig through a poorly structured website to find information. For example, are you hours buried on an About Us page? Make your navigation obvious. One tip is to ask what the top three questions your call center reps get; you might be tired of answering them, but to each (potential)
customer, it’s their first time. Take those questions as a cue to important content you need; If the answers do exist on your website already, elevate them.
David has an extensive background in software and web development and is still very much interested in anything web related. David today writes about web design and development at DART Creations after previously managing a web filtering product for an international software company.
“The most effective way for companies to reduce call center volume is by…”
Having the development team actively participating in support calls works wonders for fixing the largest issues in software based products. This is what is termed support-driven development – by having the product team working on support calls, they can really identify the most problematic parts of the software and take active steps to fix them.
Although this is not applicable or possible in all companies, it works very well in software companies.
Rather than having the support team badgering the development team for fixes which are not given priority, support-driven development puts the ball literally in the dev team’s court. If they don’t fix high volume calls, they will lose time spent on development.
Lior Krolewicz is the Founder and CEO of Yael Consulting. He offers digital marketing services across both paid and organic search marketing.
“The most important tip for companies looking to reduce call center volume is…”
They must continuously collect data on why people are calling in, prioritize the issues by volume, and then use their website to answer these questions and help their customer solve their problems using the website. It’s amazing how many companies just go through the motions of answering customer calls by hiring more representatives instead of being proactive and cutting the issues at the source.
James Iles serves as the director of customer care at Suburban Propane, managing 24/7/365 customer service, emergency response and customer contact quality support for Suburban Propane business units and more than 1 million customers. Following a 20-year career in the banking industry, Iles started at Suburban Propane and grew an after-hours Emergency Services function to a fully operational customer contact backup to more than 200 distributed customer service locations, serving multiple Suburban Propane business units.
“The most important tip for companies looking to reduce call center volume is…”
Contact center managers should constantly be looking for ways to ‘put themselves out of the business’ of handling live agent customer calls. Existing and emerging technologies, plus call routing and handling techniques, need to be exploited so that customers have the opportunity to communicate with companies in a manner and timing of their choosing, but with that live agent available in the background to serve them whenever necessary.
Starza Thompson works for Tympani, Inc. Founded in 2004, Tympani Inc., has grown to become a full-spectrum IT consultancy and engineering firm conveniently located outside of Chicago in Downers Grove. Through Tympani, clients leverage the experience of our consultants and the technical competencies of our engineers to confidently assess, upgrade, and deploy advanced IT Infrastructure, communication, and cloud technologies regardless of the consumption model.
“Call centers seeking to maintain leads, profit, and incoming business while reducing call center volume have only one real option…”
They must find a way for the customer to help themselves.
Self-service in the call center can take several forms, from an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to an online knowledgebase or mobile app. If an organization does not have these contact channels in place, their proper adoption will drastically reduce call volume. However, if an IVR, online knowledgebase, and mobile app are available to the public, and they still receive a high call volume, we can presume one of two things are happening. 1) The customer either cannot find these resources or 2) the tools’ functionality is so poor that a live conversation is preferable to what should be an otherwise more convenient alternative.
By improving the functionality and availability of these contact channels, the customer can find answers to their questions or even complete the transaction entirely without ever requiring a live agent. The experience will be more convenient and actually improve the customer’s satisfaction.