How to Manage Higher Customer Service Call Volumes

Call volumes have increased significantly in several sectors over the past few years, but how is “high call volume” defined? For a large business, a 10% or greater increase in calls lasting in excess of 2-3 weeks is considered a high call volume. Smaller businesses may experience a greater increase, depending on the number of co-workers manning the phones and the average amount of calls per hour. Regardless of the sheer number of calls, Pollock Orora wants to share methods on managing higher than average call volumes.

Go with the numbers

Rely on historical data as well as more recent numbers to forecast how many co-workers should be available to take customer calls. If the past 2 years have shown an increase in calls between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. in October, ensure you have excess skilled co-workers available to take on those challenging times.

The coronavirus pandemic has transferred customer service from a traditional in-person experience to a phone exchange. According to Zendesk’s 2020 Covid-19 Benchmark Snapshot, more than 25% of companies have reported more customer service traffic since February 2020.

Break Out the FAQs

Many customer inquiries are addressed repetitively. Determine which questions are asked most often and create short videos or informational blogs to address those concerns.

Similar to FAQs are online chat platforms embedded in home pages. Customers often browse the website of the company they are phoning, and accessing a co-worker via chat can often answer the question more quickly than speaking to a customer service representative on the phone. Online chats require less time and energy from your co-workers, which means more customers receive service in a shorter amount of time.


Teach your co-workers how to respond when a customer is upset. The normal reaction is to become upset when someone else is upset – humans tend to mirror the person with whom they are communicating. When your co-workers learn to remain calm and smile instead – even when they are on the phone – the customer’s anger level will decrease.

Another important tactic is using “we” rather than “I”. When your co-workers stress the importance of working with the customer rather than for the customer, it can reduce customer stress levels by more than 75% according to Harvard Business Study.


When a customer is disconnected or calls back with another inquiry, the ability to view the previous conversations between that customer and another co-worker is vital. Customers do not appreciate re-telling a long, frustrating story.

Real-time problem solving technology is also an option. While a customer is speaking with your co-worker, the information being shared between the customer and the phone rep is routed to the appropriate technician who can begin working on the situation while the customer is on the line. As the technician works, that information is forwarded to the co-worker on the phone with the customer so everyone involved knows the steps being followed.

Interactive voice response (IVR) software allows customers to receive assistance without human input. A set of questions by the IVR leads to either resources to help the customer, or to a customer service representative.

Call back options

Give your customers the option of being called back (this can be in the form of a recorded message) or to hold for the next available representative (with an estimated wait time). Some technology allows for customers to designate a specific time to be called.

If this technology is not yet available to your company, have your co-workers answer with the company name and immediately state, “Would it be possible to call you back?” Given the option of either an unknown wait time or being called back, 75% of customers choose the latter, according to a recent study.

Change your hold message frequently

When your hold message addresses any situations that may impede immediate assistance, such as when you experience high call volumes, give customers other options to assist them, including times you anticipate significantly lower call volumes. When customers realize how busy your office is at the moment, they can access other resources or wait for the influx of calls to decrease.

Give your customers a more pleasant experience in their phone conversations with your co-workers. Contact Pollock Orora for more customer success strategies.