Managing High Call Volume in a Contact or Call Centre: 7 Key Tactics

A high call volume can quickly overwhelm your agents when you’re unprepared. Here are six of our top high call volume management tactics to try.

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High call volume is a core issue for many contact centres, especially as we enter peak retail season. So how can you guarantee that you and your team are ready to manage the situation efficiently if and when you experience a high call volume?

This guide is here to help steer customer service professionals in the right direction when it comes to understanding high call volume, why it may occur and how to deal with it. We’ve also pieced together six of the best tactics to use, from forecasting high-demand periods to automating solutions.

How Many Calls is Considered High Call Volume?

There’s no set number, although many businesses define it as a call volume that’s 10% above the expected number of calls for their customer service team.

Generally speaking, a spike in calls doesn’t necessarily mean that your team is experiencing a high call volume – the increase should be persistent over a period of time. However, this period will also depend on the size and scale of your business, alongside your typical level of demand.

Let’s say a business normally receives around 100 calls each week. If this figure spiked to double that, it could be referred to as a high call volume for that business since they’re used to handling a lower number. This could cause delays for customers and force the team to work harder if your business doesn’t have a plan for managing a high call volume.

what is high call volume

What Causes High Call Volume?

A high call volume can occur for several reasons. From higher demand during certain seasons to the success of a marketing campaign, there are many good and bad reasons why your call volume could increase significantly with little to no warning.

A successful marketing campaign is difficult to predict, which means that while it’s great for the business, it can leave your customer service team with a difficult situation on their hands. Without proper planning for additional customer service support at the end of a campaign, you risk an increase in call volume that’s unmanageable for your regular operators.

High call volume can also occur when the number of calls stays the same, but the number of employees and resources in your team is lower than usual. For example, staff outages due to sickness can cause a high call volume for the remaining members of the team.

Anything that leads to demand for your products or services has the ability to affect your call volume. Identifying the cause is always important for finding the best solution that works for your team and your customers.

As well as high demand, logistics failures can increase call volume. For example, a warehouse fire or accident can result in unprecedented call volumes. In the winter months, weather conditions can cause drivers to fall behind on their quotas which in turn results in an increased call volume for your team to deal with.

high volume caller

What is a High Volume Caller?

A high call volume isn’t the only problem to think about. Businesses can also experience something called a high volume caller, which means that one individual is continuously contacting your business. Similarly to high call volume, these callers can be identified as a customer who calls the business significantly more than your average customer. Whether they’re seeking product assistance or need help with reoccurring and unresolved issues, there can be several reasons why a customer is calling repeatedly.

These callers can contribute to a generally high call volume, although in some cases they can be the primary cause. Therefore, it’s important for your team to be able to spot these callers and resolve their issues to prevent things from escalating. You can use automation to flag this kind of repeat contact, so that you’re able to route them to a more senior member of the team. This can help you to resolve their case quicker so that you reduce the amount of high volume callers on your lines. This is something we can help with at Gnatta.

How to Manage High Call Volume

When managing high call volume, it’s important to look at the entire picture. Below, we’ll take you through the key tactics for effectively managing high call volume in your call centre.

Forecast High Call Volume Periods

It’s always best to be prepared for a high call volume before it happens, which is why it’s so important to use business forecasting. Being able to capture and understand customer data is essential for successfully scheduling customer support representatives in the future. Workforce management tools and applications can be great for predicting high-demand periods, and they can also help you build scheduling strategies to prevent issues when you’re experiencing high call volume.

Provide Self-service Options

Your team is likely to be stretched to its max. So, to help relieve the pressure, it’s crucial to increase your customer service capacity by providing customers with as many self-service options as possible.

Chatbots and virtual agents can effectively serve as the first point of contact with a customer, solving the most common issues within the knowledge base. Only more complex questions and issues will be referred to a human agent, preventing high call volume.

If there is a single, known cause of the spike in call volume, an FAQ web page is another proactive measure to answer customer questions and help break up call log jams.

Provide Agents with the Right Tools

From workforce management tools to omnichannel support options, automatic call distribution software to scheduling systems, and everything in between, your team need the correct tools and technology to allow them to perform to their highest ability when demand is higher than usual.

Omnichannel solutions are one of the best ways to provide your agents with the right tools. The purpose of omnichannel communication is to allow customers to contact your business through various channels. This not only allows customers to choose the most convenient method of communication for them, but it also spreads the communication out for your agents. This should be implemented before a period of high call volume so that when you do experience a spike in demand, your team are better prepared for it.

Use Automation and IVR

When you’re dealing with a high call volume, there are a range of tools available that can help your team be more efficient and allow them to handle the increased volume better. IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is one such tool, offering an automated phone system that allows callers to access the right information without the need for a human operator or agent. You’ll recognise IVR as it’s the automated voice that tells you to press a different button to reach a certain department, offering a simple but effective routing system for telephony.

Automated ticket routing is another of the many ways that automation can help since this ensures each call is received by the best available agent at the right time.

You can also implement chatbots on your website to direct customers away from your live agents and allow them to answer simple questions. This saves time for both parties.

automation and IVR

Offer a Call-back Service or Web Chat Solution

Rather than leaving customers on hold for hours, it can be worthwhile to offer a call-back service or make them aware of an instant web chat solution on the website. Providing the choice of waiting, requesting a call-back when it’s their turn in the queue or pointing them in the direction of a sometimes quicker solution, can cut down on the number of calls you’re experiencing all at once. It can also allow your workforce management software to place the customers in a queue based on prioritisation preferences inputted by your team.

As a result, call traffic can be spread evenly, and your customer service team can offer their support with increased efficiency.

Utilise Scripts

Scripting can be incredibly useful when you’re trying to manage a high call volume. Not only does it save time for your agents since they know exactly what to say when are customer is routed to them, but it also means that none of the key messaging is forgotten.

Before your team experiences a high call volume, be sure to create a few script templates that clearly communicate all the most important information. If the high call volume is caused by peak season, you can mention this, for example.

Customers need to be provided with the most up-to-date information, which is why AI-powered scripting is highly efficient in this case. This will update the script in real-time and ensure representatives are reading the most relevant information to customers.

High Call Volume Message Script

When your business is experiencing a high call volume, try adding a few of the following phrases to your script:

  • “Thanks for your call, our current wait time is [X]. We appreciate your patience at this time and will be with you as quickly as possible.”
  • “All of our agents are currently busy. If you would like to request a call back, please press 1 and the next available agent will return your call as soon as possible. Otherwise, please remain on the line and one of our lovely agents will be able to take your call shortly.”
  • “Thank you for waiting. Your call is very important to us at [business name]. Please continue to hold and the next available agent will answer your call soon.”
  • “We are currently experiencing high call volume. Please leave a message or email us at [your customer support email], and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”

High Call Volume: KPIs to Consider

One thing we recommend doing when you’re experiencing a high call volume is to measure the relevant KPIs. This can indicate how well you’re currently dealing with the situation, the reasons behind it and how you could improve your call volume management.

  • Average Handling Time: This refers to the average amount of time it takes your agents to handle each customer. A lower handling time is usually ideal since it shows that you’re able to handle calls in an efficient manner.
  • Average Hold Time: This is the amount of time that your customers are waiting on hold. Again, a lower average hold time is better since this means your customers aren’t waiting a long time to receive a response.
  • Longest Call Hold: Alongside your average hold time, it’s useful to work out the longest amount of time that your customers have been on hold during a period of high call volume. This can indicate the maximum amount of time customers could be waiting.
  • Average Speed to Answer: This metric measures how quickly on average your agents can answer a call. When you’re experiencing a high call volume, this will usually start high, but the goal is to reduce it over time.
  • Call Abandonment Rates: When customers abandon their call while still on hold, this can be measured using call abandonment rates. This can indicate how well you’re handling the situation since a higher rate of abandonment means that customers are giving up before their issues are resolved.
  • Peak Hour Traffic: All businesses will have a peak hour in the day. This metric can indicate when this is and why you’re experiencing more traffic at that time. During a high call volume period, this metric can help with determining the cause.

Above all, it’s important to recognise the pressure put on agents to work continuously with high volumes. This can drastically affect employee wellbeing. Be sure to consider a strategy for looking after the wellbeing of your agents, whether it’s enforcing proper breaks, offering downtime in less urgent times or reward schemes. It can go a long way in helping employees to remain productive and positive about their workload when things get a little tougher.


From implementing automation to providing self-service, we hope the tactics in this guide help you understand how to manage a high call volume effectively.

Ready to learn more about Gnatta? Get in touch to book our demo today.

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