4 Signs You Need Overflow Call Center Services

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Overflow call center services offer up their own customer service teams to handle incoming calls on another company’s behalf whenever its agents have too much on their plates—which can be a godsend. 

During spikes in call volumes, these services not only take some of the weight off your team, but they also cut down on the wait times that your customers would otherwise have to endure. 

That said, overflow call centers can also cause you some trouble if called for at the wrong moment. 

If you use the services too soon, you’ll waste your money. In other words, there’s no point in using call overflow services if your call center does not experience unmanageable spikes in call volumes. 

Furthermore, working with both in-house and external teams when it’s not necessary can also disrupt your operations, making it tough to decide who does what and when. 

At the end of the day, these types of services are only practical when you truly need them, so it’s important to be familiar with some of the tell-tale signs that you need their help.   

Your Agents Display Signs of Burnout 

One of the hardest truths about the call center industry is that employee burnout is very common, so you need to be on the lookout for those facing work-related exhaustion.  

Common causes include understaffing and unmanageable workloads, which strongly signal the need for call center overflow services. However, you need to consider that many agents won’t reveal to you that they are burned out because they may not even realize it in some cases.

The best way to determine whether agents are having occupational problems is to observe their behavior and check your call center’s KPIs. 

Agents stop meeting call volume goals 

Agents who suddenly handle fewer calls than usual or are no longer able to hit the target probably have trouble staying productive and find it more difficult to handle customer issues. 

This causes them to spend more time solving each individual inquiry, thus preventing them from answering the expected number of calls. If you see this sign among multiple agents, your call center likely deals with a burnout issue. 

There’s a decline in customer service scores 

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys are excellent for judging the quality of your services. These are short questionnaires in which you ask customers to rate their experience after each agent interaction, for instance. 

A sudden drop in agent CSAT scores can indicate your employees either lack focus or are no longer as invested in solving customer inquiries—which ties into high levels of stress and feelings of exhaustion.

They display call-avoidance tactics 

Overworked agents tend to avoid customer interactions whenever possible in an attempt to minimize personal stress. 

This is done through various methods, some of which include the following:

  • Transferring customers to other agents shortly after they pick up a call.
  • Staying on the line even though the agent solved the customer’s inquiry.
  • Intentionally keeping customers on hold until they hang up. 
  • Handling post-call work for longer than needed.   
  • Long breaks during peak calling times. 

These signals are rather tricky to pick up on. You don’t want to micromanage your employees and make them feel like you’re constantly breathing down their necks—it will only accelerate the burnout.

It’s best to narrow down on metrics like agent transfer rates, escalation rates, average hold times, and call volumes to identify any patterns that indicate your employees are burned out. 

They’re calling out of work more

Agents experiencing burnout are often easily irritable and have a generally pessimistic outlook. They may even snap at colleagues or customers at times, which will have a negative impact on your workspace, the impressions of your customers, and your business as a whole.

These agents may also develop a tendency to ask other agents or managers for help on otherwise routine inquiries. This type of behavior strongly indicates that your agents have too much to handle and they need to be given some slack. 

In any case, if agents show signs of burnout, call overflow services are a good idea. Since overflow services will take over calls your agent can’t handle, you get to lessen the load on your employees without compromising on call volumes—so everybody wins. 

Of course, it may cost you some extra cheddar cheese to hire the outside help, but you’ll keep your customers happy and lessen the risk of taking a hit to your reputation, and ultimately, your revenue. 

Your Call Center’s Average Call Abandonment Rate is Consistently Over 10% 

Call abandonment rates reveal the percentage of callers who hang up before they get to reach a live agent within a given timeframe.

To calculate this metric, the first thing you do is subtract the number of calls handled by agents from the total number of inbound calls received. Next, divide that result by the total number received of calls again, then multiply it by 100.  

As a general rule of thumb, your average call abandonment rate should sit at around 5% to 8%. Anything above 10%, and you’ve got a problem. 

High call abandonment rates often relate to long hold times, which can mean that your agents are overwhelmed by the number of incoming calls, leaving them unable to address all customers promptly. 

This, in turn, indicates that your call center is understaffed and that you may need to resort to call overflow services. But, it may not always be your fault. 

Customers who hang up just after they made the call probably don’t have anything to do with your call center—they might have contacted the wrong department, had something come up in real life, or simply dialed the wrong number entirely. 

That said, you can get a good sense of whether or not the problem is on your end by measuring call abandonment rates along with other metrics like hold times and handling times. 

Furthermore, it’s a good practice to track call abandonments across periods of six months or more. If you have high call abandonment rates across longer periods, it’s safer to assume that your team is understaffed and can’t cope with high call volumes.

A screenshot of Squaretalk's homepage featuring a welcome message and email sign up option.

If you noticed a rise in call abandonments only recently, consider taking a look at your current workflows first—there might be a bottleneck somewhere, which can be solved through dedicated cloud communications platforms like Squaretalk, for example. It offers several features that help agents handle calls more effectively, such as predictive dialers and skill-based routing.

If You’ve Never Been Able to Answer 80% of Calls in 20 Seconds or Less

Not to be confused with the Pareto principle (aka the idea that 80% of business outcomes are due to 20% of their causes), the 80/20 rule for call centers is a common benchmark to determine whether or not your customer service teams are efficient enough to deliver quality support. 

Although this rule may differ slightly from call center to call center, the idea remains the same—the faster your agents take calls, the more people they can help, and the happier your customers will be.  

Hitting this benchmark also affects call abandonment rates. Since agents will get in contact with the large majority of callers in under 20 seconds, you’ll have fewer people waiting on hold. 

If your call center has never hit this benchmark or has started to have trouble reaching it during the last few months, you’re probably dealing with an understaffing problem. As a result, your call volumes are simply too much to handle for your agents, which prevents them from having adequate response times. 

Planetcalc offers a handy tool that helps you figure out the exact number of agents you need to meet the 80/20 rule based on your average handling time and number of calls per hour. You can also get into the specifics and see how many agents should be available during each hour of the day. 

Either way, if the result doesn’t match your current number of agents, you should consider call center overflow services. They provide you with the backup agents necessary to hit the 80/20 benchmark each month. 

If that’s not possible, you can also appeal to other call center services to further cut back on wait times. For instance, automated call centers can handle ticket routing or routine customer inquiries by themselves.

There’s a Pattern Of Not Managing Call Volume Effectively During Busy Times

Your call center doesn’t need to be in a constant state of overdrive to justify call overflow services. They can also help you out during peak seasons, holidays, or whenever you’re running sales campaigns. 

Remember, sudden spikes in call volumes are inevitable, so your call center must be prepared to handle the influx of customer inquiries. 

Of course, hiring a bunch of extra agents just to handle peak seasons is not always cost-effective, especially if you don’t need them for the rest of the year. This is where call overflow services are a great idea, because most overflow services will only charge you when they are taking your calls. 

That said, take a look at your call center’s data during the last three years and check for spikes in call volumes. If you can identify patterns of busy times, zoom in on the details. Keep an eye out for metrics like call abandonments, hold times, and the number of unanswered calls.

If you notice these metrics rise significantly during peak times, that’s a clear indication your current workforce is not prepared to handle sudden surges in customer calls.


Call overflow services can be a lifesaver in more ways than one. They can keep your customers happy, your employees mentally sane, and your business reputation squeaky clean. They’re also more cost-effective than hiring extra full-time agents—in most cases. 

To determine whether or not call center overflow services would be practical for you, make sure to track your call volumes and confirm whether or not you’re really dealing with an understaffing issue first. 

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