The more calls your business gets, the better, right? While phones ringing off the hook can be a sign of health, it can also be a signal that something has gone dreadfully wrong. While every business experiences seasonal call spikes or an uptick in rings from the occasional viral video, your inbound call volume should be commensurate to the level of business that you expect to drive. When call volume is much more than you expect, it can overwhelm your call center, potentially alienating your customers and tarnishing your good name.
Too many calls can be more curse than blessing. Here are a few reasons why your call volume might be out of control and how to tame it.
People are Calling for the Wrong Reasons
It’s not entirely uncommon for call centers that are intended to handle leads to get swamped by customer service requests. This can often be attributed to poor optimization of paid search ads. If someone just searches a bank’s name, for instance, they should not see an ad that will give them a number for mortgage quotes. A general brand name search without any other specific keywords should provide basic information: a general phone number, links to find locations, or links to common services. Take the search results for “Bank of America,” for example:
It omits a contact number altogether and lists many common queries and services. This ad format will help reduce calls for general inquiries and help customers find the information they need on their own. This is why you need to have the right call intelligence solution in place — if you can’t see the entire customer journey and track your calls back to the keyword level, it will make it difficult to optimize your PPC ads and track down campaigns that are driving the wrong kind of calls. When you are able to properly attribute calls to keywords, you can not only cut call volume, but reduce your CPC, too.
Another Department is Underperforming
Sometimes it’s okay to blame other people for your problems, and this is one of them. Internal issues can cause call volume spikes, for instance, if there’s a backlog of service requests that stretches back for weeks, customers will begin to call any number that they can find to get a hold of someone that might be able to help.
To prevent this, service levels should be tracked across all channels and bounce rates monitored from one channel to the next. If calls are consistently bouncing from one department to another, you may need increased call quality monitoring to make sure you’re hitting targets and meeting SLAs, or it may be time to review staffing levels in the department that calls are bouncing from.
Customers are Calling With Basic Questions
If you are getting swamped with calls about business hours, inventory levels, locations or other simple questions, It’s probably time to look at your website design. Is your phone number displayed prominently but it takes five clicks to get to the business hours? Do you have an FAQ section? Does your search function work properly?
While making phone numbers accessible is important to many businesses, it's no substitute for a seamless online experience that makes self-service simple. If you can establish a pattern of simple questions that are coming from a number displayed on the website, there’s optimization work to be done on your website.
People should be calling your business because they want to, not because they have to. This is not to mention that a poor website experience is driving away many more customers than the ones who are calling out of frustration.
Too Few Contact Channel Options
If your phone number is the only obvious way to get additional assistance, that’s how people will contact your business whether they have a question, complaint, or want to make a purchase. Providing other easy options like email, online chat on Facebook, or community forums can help drastically decrease call volumes.
You may also look into using a chatbot to help customers get quick answers to their questions. Many consumers are happy to use text-based online chat to get quick answers to their questions, and you can easily route calls from chat if it appears they will need assistance to make a sale. This makes for a smooth cross-channel trip for the customer and increases the likelihood of getting a conversion from high-intent customers. Today’s AI-powered chatbots can be trained to answer much more complicated questions than they were once capable of handling, and they can hold more natural conversations, too.
Fraudulent Call Activity
Have you noticed a sudden spike in irrelevant calls, hangups, or long inquiries that never end in a sale? It could be call fraud or phone fraud. Call fraud is similar to click fraud in that it is perpetrated by shady publishers and affiliate networks that are trying to pump up their commissions by repeatedly calling the number associated with their property. This type of call fraud is becoming less prevalent, thankfully, and call intelligence solutions like Invoca have built-in measures to prevent and block such calls.
Phone fraud is different than call fraud in that it takes advantage of vulnerabilities in telephone infrastructure to make money from bad calls made to toll-free numbers. Because of the way the phone system is structured, toll-free numbers are susceptible to toll-free call pumping, where unscrupulous independent infrastructure operators who get paid for handing off toll-free calls to other networks “pump” numbers with bad calls. For every call of a predetermined length that is made through their network, they make a few cents, and at a huge volume, this can equate to big money. Invoca has actually worked with law enforcement and the telecommunications industry to help curtail phone fraud like this. Listen to this Reply All podcast “The Case of the Phantom Caller” for a really fascinating look at how Invoca helped solve a very crafty (and kind of creepy) phone fraud racket.
You’re Just Really Popular
Sometimes you just have a winner on your hands and when the word gets out, BAM. You’re drowning in a sea full of calls with customers hungry to buy what you're selling. It’s a dream/nightmare come true, but it does happen. The best way to approach this is to be transparent with your customers and let them know (on your website, for example) that call volumes are high, but you are working on fixing it. If there is any way to provide options to order without calling, make them apparent and easy. An ecommerce fix may be faster and more economical than a huge call center expansion.
If something is going right (or wrong) that boosts your call volume, a call analytics solution like Invoca can help you sustain the surge or escape the storm and better serve all of your customers.
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