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How to reduce call transfers in the call center?

Call transfers

How long are you willing to wait until a call transfer in the call center connects you to the right operator? According to statistics from several leading research organizations, about 70% of customers expect to be connected to a support representative within 30 seconds. However, if the waiting process on the line lasts more than two minutes, approximately 80% of customers will hang up. 34% of them will never call back. Therefore, today we’ll talk about call transfers in the call center: what it is, and, most importantly, how to reduce it.

What is call transfer in the call center?

Call transfer in the call center is the automatic (using Automatic Call Distribution – ACD systems) or manual redirection of a phone call from one agent or group of agents to another.

You may be interested in reading our article “What does ACD stand for in call center“.

To measure the amount of call transfers in the call center, the Call Transfer Rate (CTR) indicator is used. This is a metric that measures the percentage of calls transferred from one agent or department to another. To calculate the CTR, the number of transferred calls is divided by the total number of incoming calls. For example, if the call center receives 100 calls in a day, and 20 of them are transferred, the CTR will be 20%.

CTR = (20 / 100) x 100% = 20%

Why call transfer is needed in the call center?

Call transfer in the call center can be used for:

  • Distributing calls among agents and groups of agents to ensure an even workload and prompt customer service;
  • Directing inquiries to agents with the appropriate skills to address specific customer issue;
  • Redirecting calls to a backup call center if calls come in after hours or if all agents are busy.

Thus, from the perspective of the call center, call transfer is an important tool that helps call centers improve customer service, optimize agent work, and save time and resources.

The impact of call transfer on customers

For the customers, call transfer means only one thing: longer wait times on the line. Everyone wants to quickly get answers to their questions and even quicker resolution of issues. That’s why waiting for more than 2 minutes is almost a death sentence for a business. Call transfer significantly reduces key metrics that impact the customer experience. And even if after several transfers the customer receives a comprehensive answer to their query, they are unlikely to want to use the company’s services in the future.

Strategies to reduce call transfer in the contact center

At first glance, it may seem like there’s no issue: simply place agents on the frontline who are well-versed in the responsibilities of each department of the company. These would be “universal soldiers,” highly competent in any matter. However, in practice, for large businesses with complex departmental structures and a high volume of incoming calls, finding such specialists is extremely challenging. Moreover, high turnover in the contact center industry makes the training and adaptation processes for agents prohibitively expensive. Fortunately, technology and effective management strategies come to the rescue.

Consider agent skills

A common reason for increased call transfers in the contact center is inefficient planning. Distributing agents across shifts based on their skills and competencies is a primary task of the planning department.

Also, considering skills, leading specialists in Workforce Management systems mean expanding agents’ responsibilities. If an operator has the skills to solve certain issues, why not empower them to do so without transferring the call to a department manager? This way, the call center not only saves the customer’s time but also improves the First Contact Resolution (FCR) metric.

Use automatic call distribution along with IVR menus

Thanks to routing calls to the appropriate agents, clients can receive assistance faster and with fewer transfers. Together with the IVR system, it works like this:

  • The call enters the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system with speech recognition;
  • The client voices their question or issue;
  • The IVR system forwards the call to the Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) system;
  • The ACD system directs the call to an available agent with the necessary skills.

If there’s no agent available with the required skills, the Interactive Voice Response system can prompt the caller to leave their phone number, and they’ll be contacted as soon as the right operator is free.

Maximize the use of CRM capabilities

CRM for call centers is a powerful tool that allows automating many routine tasks, maintaining a customer database, correctly segmenting it, and distributing tasks among employees. When an agent sees customer data and their interaction history on their screen, it’s easier for them to decide which department to transfer the call to. Moreover, AI-based CRM systems can adapt conversation scripts in real-time and provide agents with text prompts to help solve the customer’s problem without additional redirection.

Another important CRM capability is integrating various communication channels. Nowadays, customers have different preferences for communication channels: online chats, social media, messengers, and so on. However, they dislike repeating information about the reason for their inquiry. Modern CRM systems for call centers provide the desired omnichannel experience, which preserves the history of inquiries across all channels and helps prevent unnecessary call transfers.

Invest in establishing a VIP customer service department

Call center automation processes and self-service systems have greatly simplified the work in call centers for agents. However, there is a category of VIP clients who, when contacting the call center, prefer to consult with a live person rather than an automated voice system. And every unnecessary call transfer can lead to significant losses.

Though VIP Customer Service may entail setting up a dedicated phone line and implementing special training programs for agents, it’s worth noting Bain & Company’s research revealing that VIP clients generate 25% more revenue than regular clients. Thus, in certain business sectors, establishing a separate service department for these clients is a justifiable investment.

Tell the client about the necessity of call transfers

Sometimes, the agent who initially takes the call may lack the necessary knowledge or authority to provide satisfactory service to the client. In such instances, the agent responsible for transferring the call should set clear expectations for the caller. Inform them about the need for a call transfer, including any potential wait times. Keeping clients informed helps manage their expectations and minimizes disappointment.

Important: If a call center operator cannot address the query or transfer the call to the appropriate department, it’s preferable to promise an immediate callback within 15 minutes. During this time, they can seek guidance from a more experienced colleague and work towards resolving the issue.

Track and analyze the change in CTR over time

By analyzing every interaction of the call center with customers across different channels over a period of time, you can identify trends leading to an increase in repeat calls or call transfers. A high CTR may indicate that:

  • Agents are inadequately qualified and lack the necessary skills or knowledge to resolve customer issues;
  • There are insufficient agents in the call center to handle incoming calls;
  • Incorrect settings or errors in call routing processes.

By delving into and addressing the underlying causes of these trends, you can enhance First Call Resolution (FCR), customer satisfaction metrics like NPS, CSAT, CES, minimize call transfers, and foster a more positive customer interaction.

Call transfer in call centers: conclusions

Phone calls remain one of the primary means of communication for customers with businesses. However, customers’ expectations regarding service speed are increasing. Therefore, to remain competitive, call centers must adapt to customer expectations. Decreasing CTR positively impacts all metrics, so it is crucial to avoid excessive call transfers. What strategy should you choose for this?

For small, local call centers, a strategy focusing on training and retaining key agents seems preferable. Creating favorable working conditions, implementing motivational systems, and expanding agent authority can positively influence reducing call transfers.

For large, outsourcing call center services handling a significant volume of incoming calls, investments in technological solutions and software, as well as a departmental specialization approach to agent distribution, would be more appropriate. In any case, it is important to note that there is no universal strategy for reducing CTR. The best approach will depend on the size and specific nature of your call center.

About author

Фахівець з маркетингу компанії Global Bilgi
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