Mastering the rush: techniques for handling call surges

A forecast chart showing a call centre peak
Written by:
Picture of Natasha Ratanshi-Stein

Natasha Ratanshi-Stein , Founder & CEO

With customer expectations increasing around how accessible the brands and services they work with become, customer service teams often face the challenge of managing call surges.

Whether it’s a seasonal spike, a product launch, or unforeseen events, effectively handling increased call volumes is crucial for maintaining customer satisfaction and smooth operations.

But how do you navigate these busy periods without compromising on service quality?

What constitutes high call volume?

High call volume is more meaningfully measured by the ticket-to-people ratio rather than just the number of calls.

This metric, indicating the number of inquiries per team member, helps gauge the efficiency and workload distribution of your team. Understanding this ratio, as well as the average number of call tickets handled per hour is vital for making informed staffing decisions and preparing adequately for peak periods.

👉🏻 Check out Wolf & Badger’s approach to peak season planning.

How do I lower my call volume?

Diversifying customer service channels

Diversifying customer service channels is an effective strategy to lower call volume.

Expanding beyond phone calls to include email support and asynchronous ticket systems allows for more manageable response expectations and can help redistribute the workload, especially during times of high demand.

Reducing customer service calls through FAQs and UX/UI improvements

Empowering customers to self-serve through comprehensive FAQs, alongside addressing technical issues and making UX/UI improvements can significantly decrease the need for direct customer service calls.

By preemptively solving common queries and enhancing user experience, the volume of incoming calls can be effectively reduced.

How can I make my help desk more efficient?

Enhancing help desk efficiency is crucial in managing call surges. Integrating AI-driven solutions like AI chatbots from Intercom, which can handle 30-50% of basic customer inquiries, allows your team to focus on more complex issues.

Additionally, implementing IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems can effectively triage calls to specialised teams, streamlining the process and ensuring that customers are quickly connected to the most qualified agents.

Automation of routine tasks and comprehensive training for your team also contribute significantly to increasing overall help desk efficiency.

Handling multiple customer service calls effectively

Effective customer demand forecasting and staffing are key to handling multiple customer service calls simultaneously. Ensuring your team is adequately staffed and forward planning staff leaves and shifts at least three months ahead of known peak periods, align your team optimally with anticipated customer demand. Training your team to pace themselves and maintain momentum during busy shifts, alongside implementing efficient call distribution strategies are essential in maintaining service quality under pressure.

Managing overwhelming call volumes

Effective planning is critical in managing an overload of phone calls. However, in certain situations, it may be necessary to declare ‘call bankruptcy’ by giving up on responding to some older tickets to prevent a continuous compromise in service levels.

Reflecting on these instances to understand whether the spike in call volume could have been anticipated is important for future planning. Recruiting short-term staff or adjusting your resource allocation can be beneficial for predictable surges, and in minimising the number of occasion when ‘call bankruptcy’ has to be declared as a last resort.


Handling call surges requires a strategic blend of technology, efficient processes, and an insightful understanding of customer behaviour. By adopting these techniques, customer service teams can transform the challenge of high call volumes into an opportunity for showcasing exceptional service and operational agility.