Stefan Drew - The Marketing Magician

FE, Education & Business Marketing: Quick, Effective, Low Cost Marketing

Stefan Drew - The Marketing Magician

We Are Experiencing Higher Than Normal Call Volumes

We Are Very Busy, Please Hold The Line We'll Be With You ShortlyWe Are Very Busy, Please Hold The Line We’ll Be With You Shortly

It doesn’t matter if you phone a bank, utility, council, a myriad of public services or the private sector. They all seem to be Experiencing Higher Than Normal Call Volumes than they expected. So it seems like they don’t expect people to call them and they’ve been taken them completely by surprise.


It makes you doubt their competence to handle your money, electric, gas, phones or local services when they can’t even estimate the volume of calls they get on a Monday morning or Thursday afternoon that is no different to last week or the week before when they were also experiencing higher call volumes than they expected. Do they understand nothing about Marketing and Sales? 

You might have thought that your doctor, after years studying for a medical degree, was an intelligent person. So why can’t they figure out that after being closed all weekend people will try to phone them on Monday morning. People get sick over the weekend so phone a doctor on Monday. Why can’t doctors understand this?


The Truth Behind High Call Volumes & Call Centres


Higher call volumes is usually a big public sector and corporate lie. Call centre managers use sophisticated software. They know exactly what call volumes to expect at any time of any day of the year. They have records going back years. It’s only when the totally unexpected happens that they are likely to get caught out. Things like heavy snowfall or a storm, but even then these things are likely to be forecast and preparations can be made.


What they really mean is, we want to maximise profits and that means minimising staff in call centres. So we’re not hiring more people to handle your call. Because we know that if we make you wait long enough you’ll give up and leave us in peace. And anyway, we keep telling you to use our website where we pretend you can find all the answers you need.


The repeated messages about high call volumes is backed by annoying, frustrating, loud or barely audible noise that is variously described as muzak. Or alternatively music by a range of bands.  Surveys of “on hold” music played by some of the UK’s largest businesses found Ikea playing Abba (well they would wouldn’t they), while Vodafone were playing Justin Bieber, “Love Yourself”, which most people seem to prefer to huge roaming bills and tax avoidance. HSBC’s music was described as “like its from a funeral”. Boris Bikes seemed to favour Uptown Funk!


None of them seem to play the Shadowy Lines recording of We Are Experiencing Higher-Than-Normal Call Volume. It’s on YouTube and is a lot more soothing than most of what I hear when waiting.



Higher Than Normal Health Issues


Of course the real reason call centres aren’t quick answering calls might be down to the working conditions. In a recent Guardian article entitled Call Centre Concerns . 

There was talk of sore throat or loss of voice due to speaking all day in an airconditioned room (presumably with hundreds of other people who are intent on sharing their germs and colds).


And then there’s caller health issues. Callers that are on hold for long periods of time, sometimes in excess of 30 minutes, force fed call centre muzak, tend to get a bit frustrated and can sometimes take it out on the person that eventually answers the phone. The sense of outrage at being left on hold for so long, fires phone rage and  high blood pressure. It probably costs the NHS countless millions in heart attacks and other serious ailments.


Higher Than Normal Call Volumes: The Truth


When you phone to find out why you have been overcharged, haven’t received a delivery, can’t get connected or whatever, what they really mean is We are experiencing normal call volumes and we are understaffed.”


What businesses need to understand is that no one actually believes call volumes are especially high. And that means they don’t trust you and would love to find another supplier.


This leaves a gap in the market for those ethical businesses that tell the truth, answer quickly and demonstrate they care. In some sectors there are startups beginning to recognise this and they are stealing market share from the die hards that continue to lie.


Business needs to understand that if you want customers you need to answer the phone.



Here’s a related post on other annoying business tactics

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