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The Consequences of Rising Call Volumes (and What To Do About It)

Contact Centers Can’t Keep Up With Skyrocketing Call Volumes

Catastrophic weather events. Cybersecurity threats. Supply chain disruptions. Service outages. Modern-day forces have never been more prevalent and unpredictable. For contact centers, this creates massive customer service challenges. 

And that’s not to mention the biggest driver of call spikes over the last two years: the pandemic. According to the Harvard Business Review, the pandemic has created 68% more call escalations, 50% more difficult calls and 34% longer hold times. 

From ecommerce to insurance to finance, every contact center in every industry has felt the strain. Contact centers simply can’t scale up and down fast enough to meet customer demand. 

As a result, forecasting immediate and future staffing needs has become unreliable at best. Contact centers must take a good hard look at the consequences of rising call volumes in their business in order to understand the potential solutions.

Agents get overwhelmed 

Excess stress on agents impairs their ability to provide good service, while on the other hand, the pandemic has increased both customer demand and expectations. These conditions have fueled the Great Resignation in contact centers, and made it harder than ever to retain talent.

What to do about it: Contact center automation acts as a first line of defense for tier-1 requests. Less time is spent on monotonous requests, and more time on enriching customer conversations that require creativity, empathy, and human connection.

Scheduling becomes a guessing game

It has become unfeasible to try and forecast staffing needs, let alone find enough agents to address sudden spikes in call volumes. For the customer, this means they can’t expect consistent wait times or predict how much time they’ll need to make a call.

What to do about it: Unlike seasonal hiring or BPOs, contact center automation provides  unlimited scale to contact centers at a fraction of the cost. Automation is like having an infinite supply of your best tier-1 agents, and is available 24/7, 365. 

Customers grow more frustrated

Unsurprisingly, when contact centers get overwhelmed customer satisfaction plummets. Strategies like self-service, deflection-oriented IVRs, and chatbots usually end up frustrating customers who just want to speak to an agent or ask a simple question. 

What to do about it: By automating more calls, agents are freed up to spend more time with customers who need it while automation quickly resolves simple requests. For the customer, this means they no longer have to wait on hold to start resolving any issue. 

Data gets lost

When contact centers are burdened with staffing challenges and unmanageable spikes in call volumes, data analysis suffers. Customers who are turned away by IVRs or long wait times become unaccounted for, and low CSAT calls get missed by managers focused on simply getting their phones answered.

What to do about it: Without an effective analytics solution, calls during high-volume periods can get locked in black boxes of data. Automation can take care of after-call work like transcribing and tagging, and make data-driven recommendations via a simple dashboard.

Automation gets kicked down the road

Another consequence contact centers experience on a macro level is the opportunity cost of remaining stagnant. The status quo of workforce management means managers must stay focused on increasing agent productivity, instead of transforming agents entirely by eliminating routine calls from their workloads.

What to do about it: Contact center automation can start small and scale as your organization needs it to. By automating even the most simple flows like customer authentication and account updates, contact centers begin the process of building customer data that can scale to further automation use cases.

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