High call volumes are a common reality for brands. Whether it’s questions during holiday sales, or a more unprecedented crisis like the one we’re experiencing now, when it comes to getting answers for urgent questions, it’s the phone that customers typically turn to first.
The unfortunate side effect is a long wait time for customers on the phone, while your other channels lay (relatively) idle.
Now, while we can’t offer a magic wand to quell those sudden surges, we’d like to offer you the next best thing: actionable strategies to reduce your call volumes, while still getting customers the answers they need—fast.
1. Go Beyond Press #0 for Customer Support
IVRs are a polarizing subject. On the one hand, they’re a cost-effective way for companies to get customers to the right agent. On the other hand…98% of customers try to skip them.
And that’s chiefly because most IVRs on the market behave simply as a sorting mechanism. Want to hear about our locations? Press #1. Want to talk to a customer service agent? Press #0.
But offer your customers something more with your IVR, and they’ll be more likely to engage with it, than wait for the first chance to get out of it.
An IVR personalized to your customer
IVRs usually provide generic information that apply to any customer—like store locations or opening hours. But taking your IVR further, so it provides information specific to the customer calling in, means they can get their questions answered themselves, without having to speak to an agent at all.
Imagine if your IVR could associate a customer’s mobile number with their account, and provide tailored information like their order status, upcoming reservations, or loyalty point status.
Rather than wait indeterminately on the line, your customers get the help they need, in the moment.
Offer SMS to shorten wait times
When phone volumes start ramping up, offer customers a faster path to resolution through messaging channels like SMS.
But don’t make it onerous by reciting a number and expecting them to remember or write it down. Instead, offer them the path of least resistance, like simply pressing #5 for SMS, and having the IVR trigger a text to start a conversation.
2. Lean Into Messaging and Self-Service
When your customers reach out over the phone, it’s usually because they’re looking for immediate answers that asynchronous channels like email can’t support.
Lean into and promote channels like messaging and self-service that still offer that real-time, immediate support, yet are far more resource-efficient.
Self-service lets customers get answers without any agent effort or time needed.
While messaging (i.e. SMS, chat, and social messaging) allows agents to get super efficient, handling multiple customers at a time, versus just one over the phone.
And that’s a win for both customers and the company, because it means faster, more efficient service, on channels your customers want to use.
Offer more than voice
We probably don’t need to ‘call’ this out, but to reduce your call volumes, it makes sense to offer more than just voice and email.
When customers want quick answers, it’s an easy decision to go straight to voice instead of email. But offering other real-time channels like live chat or SMS means a higher chance of customers using those channels instead.
Be their #1 promoter
If you want customers to choose messaging or self-service over the phone, it’s time to get promotional with it.
Position of honor. Psychologically, people are more likely to go with the first option presented to them versus later ones. Take advantage of that and give your messaging channels top billing at every place you list your contact details. And consider bolding them for extra impact.
Search your site and the internet. Your brand’s contact details don’t just live on your ‘Contact Us’ page, but across your website (e.g. your footer or Reservations page), marketing emails, or even in your Google search results. Ensure you do a thorough search and update so all these listings reflect your messaging channels’ new position of honor.
Cross-promote on your IVR. Adapt your IVR script to direct customers to messaging and self-service channels for faster answers. Better yet, give them an easy route to SMS support, or text them a link to a self-service article, with just a push of a number.
Don’t constrain self-service to your FAQ page
On a similar note, don’t constrain your self-service to your FAQ page or Help Center. Instead, offer it up on several—if not all—the pages on your site.
One of our customers, swimwear retailer Andie, saw a significant drop in their conversations to orders ratio by doing this. And that’s because leveraging our self-service channel, Sidekick, means Andie’s customers get quick answers to their more simple questions without talking to an agent, which lets their agents focus on the more complex issues that convert to a sale.
And if you notice a customer going to your ‘Contact Us’ page, get ahead of the game by reaching out to them first with proactive chat.
3. Get Ahead of Customer Questions
Speaking of being proactive, get ahead of customer questions by looking at what your customers reach out about the most, or predicting what they’ll likely want to reach out about in the future (e.g. canceled flights or a product recall).
That way you can create helpful content ahead of time so customers can find answers themselves, or get quick answers from agents to their questions.
See what’s trending
Delve into your reporting to see what your customers are reaching out about.
If you see repeat questions (e.g. around return policies), make that information easy to find—maybe within your item description—so customers don’t need to reach out for clarification.
Beef up your content
Once you know what customers are reaching out about, use that to beef up the answers on your self-service channels.
It’s a practice crafts and fabric retailer JOANN believes in. By adapting their answers based on which questions they see most in their reporting, more than half of their customers now get their answers successfully through self-service instead of speaking to an agent.
Spin up a dedicated FAQ page
If you currently have, or foresee, a particularly complicated issue, create a dedicated FAQ page for customers to find all the answers they need.
Especially now, with increased uncertainty around travel, we’ve seen many airlines spin up pages with comprehensive guidance on their cancellation policies, with links to pages for customers to cancel and rebook flights themselves.
4. Empower Agents With Knowledge
As the saying goes, knowledge is power.
When your agents have all the context and information about a customer at their fingertips, they not only deliver a higher quality of service, but faster service too.
Provide key customer context
Knowing who a customer is as soon as they reach out—their name, last purchase, and order numbers—means agents don’t waste precious time gathering details, and can get straight to helping your customer.
A seamless transition from self-service to agent support
Almost ¾ of customers will try to find answers on their own before turning to an agent for help.
Save your customers and agents time on the phone by allowing your agents to see the answers they looked at on your self-service before calling in.
For example, if a customer’s already seen a company’s FAQ answer on shipping windows but didn’t find what they need, an agent shouldn’t waste time rehashing what was already in that answer, but try to understand how to help the customer’s specific ask.
How Gladly Can Help
Getting promotional with your messaging channels is a key step to reducing call volumes. Now pardon us as we get a little promotional ourselves, and share how Gladly can help you reduce your call volumes through this busy season and beyond.
IVR that’s personalized. Provide tailored service to customers via an IVR that can recognize who they are, and deliver the specific answers they need—from order status to upcoming reservations.
Go from IVR to messaging. Let customers skip the long wait line and switch effortlessly to SMS, Whatsapp, or Facebook Messenger instead—all they need to do is push a number. The best part? Setup takes hours, not days.
Self-service everywhere. Encourage customers to find answers themselves by allowing customers to self-serve everywhere—not just your FAQ page.
Customer context at your agents’ fingertips. Empower agents to work faster, yet still provide personalized service, by delivering key customer details—from name to last purchase and order numbers—on the same screen they use to talk to customers.
Seamless transitions from self-service. When agents can see which answers a customer’s already looked at, they can skip the repeat and get straight to the root of the issue.
Now, more than ever, your customers want quick answers to their urgent questions. And with call volumes rising (and along with it, wait times too), it’s more important than ever to find efficiencies in your overall process—from your IVR systems, to self-service, and the tools you use to empower agents.
Need a TLDR version of this to share? Get your copy of the ‘Things You Can Do Right Now To Reduce Call Volumes and Wait Times’.