When you are short-staffed, call volume always seems to increase. You can see the fear in the eyes of staff as they realize the presence of empty seats around them, especially the day after a holiday.

So, what can you do? Do you pin yourself with that “BEATEN” label and mutter to yourself, “It is what it is?” Sadly, many call centers do just that. But if you mean to run a successful business and keep your clients this is not an option.

Call center overflow handling is essential to making sure callers receive the attention they need while keeping agents calm and efficient. You should design overflow strategies in advance to better handle expected peak periods and unexpected high call volume.

What is call center overflow?

Call center overflow happens when inbound calls cannot be taken by agents for various reasons. It may be that all agents are occupied, and call handling capacity has been reached. It might be that the maximum number of calls in a queue or maximum wait time has been reached just before the overflow happens. Agents may also decline calls if they are occupied with dispatching and making outbound calls. They may also be offline or simply miss inbound calls for one reason or another. In all situations, overflow happens when taking and processing inbound calls, typically when the call center software lacks specialized functionality.

When overflow happens, an automatic call distribution system or ACD, may route a call toward another target group—such as another call center department or outsourcer—or resource, such as an automated voicemail system. However, overflow can lead to missed calls and higher caller wait times. For these reasons, callers and customer prospects may quickly become frustrated if they are unable to reach a company.

Call overflow can be managed in diverse ways depending on the context of the situation. Below are a few ways you can handle this situation in order of least desirable to most favorable.

1.) Present an Automated Message and Hang Up on the Caller:

In case of call overflow, offer an automated message that informs the customer that agents are currently assisting other callers and will not be able to answer their call. For example, the message may state, “All agents are currently busy… please call back at a later time.” After that message is played, the call center software would then hang up on the customer. You might as well leave a message that says “Hello our call center is not reliable enough to answer your call. Here’s a message that acknowledges this, please try again later” Imagine if your paying customer hears this greeting and gets hung up on. You had better hope their earnings reports are fantastic.

So, when should such a message be used? This method works best when the customer’s demand is not urgent and can be handled using self-service AI. Using a cold “Call back at a later

time” message should only be used when the call center is managing an internal problem and needs an emergency method for reducing inbound calls.

2.) Solicit a Voicemail or Present a Callback Option:

Call overflow can be managed with a message that invites customers to leave their own voicemail message. As soon as a previously occupied agent has completed his or her call, the agent can listen to the message and respond appropriately.

You can also offer customers a callback option. Your call center’s IVR menu can ask customers if they wish to be called back when an agent becomes available. These methods are ideal for situations in which the customer typically needs human support for the issue. In most cases, the customer will not feel neglected and will get the quality support needed.

This is better than listening to a recording of some bubbly agent telling me that “My call is important to them…” While you are not forcing a person into a hold queue you are still putting the issue on hold. In this day and age, it’s a safe bet that if an issue warrants a phone call, the caller would rather not wait.

3.) Re-Route Internally:

Your call center may also wish to route overflow calls to another wait queue that is handled by agents with less specialized skills. This method is ideal when your call center wants to respond to each customer request but does not feel that these requests require special expertise for proper handling.

4.) Re-Route to a Partner Call Center:

Finally, if all the above does not give you that warm and fuzzy customer service feeling there is a better option. Partnership. In call overflow situations, calls may also be re-routed to another call center that can handle the additional calls.

I know, I know, many private business owners scoff at the term Partnership. The thought of partnering with a potential competitor seems risky to say the least. Many will say, “It’s not that simple.” Unless you are using Startel. Then, many things are easy.

Overflow strategies are essential to ensure both agent efficiency and customer satisfaction.

The Startel Contact Management Center system with CMC RestAPI offers customers a way to partner with each other to allow seamless sharing across client accounts with a feature called CMC Partner Nexus.

This feature allows call centers within the Startel community to share heavy volume accounts and provide call overflow support via a technological handshake. With a Partner Nexus established you can divert traffic to a partner CMC in case of emergency in your local area. The

CMC Partner Nexus allows messages and data from the partner site to seamlessly be inserted into the home system of the client. Sharing clients and agents has never been easier!

Startel Contact Center Solutions That Bring Happiness To Your Customers

Startel Contact Center Solutions use smarter technology, stronger partners, and expert guidance to bring your contact center’s production and customer satisfaction to the next level! Since its founding in 1980, Startel has established a loyal customer base from a variety of industries, including contact centers, education, government, healthcare, insurance, telephone answering service and utilities. Today, Startel has customers in 43 states across the United States as well as Canada, Central America, New Zealand, and Switzerland. Our customers depend on Startel’s solutions and services to increase business efficiencies, identify performance opportunities and deliver quick, secure and accurate communication 24/7 x 365.

For more information on the above subject matter or anything else just give us a call at 800-STARTEL or you can cut right to the chase and schedule a demo of the Startel CMC by clicking the link below.